Rain­bow Six Seige

PC, PS4, Xbox One

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Pub­lisher Ubisoft Devel­oper In-house (Mon­treal) For­mat PC, PS4, Xbox One Ori­gin Canada Re­lease Oc­to­ber 13

Ubisoft’s now-can­celled Rain­bow Six:

Pa­tri­ots was the sort of game in which you ‘Press square to kiss wife’. Rain­bow

Six Siege di­vorces it­self from that rocky mar­riage of script­ing and agency. Where

Pa­tri­ots was a cover shooter in which you just hap­pened to look like a trained coun­tert­er­ror­ist, in Siege you have to play like one.

“We re­booted the pro­ject in Jan­uary 2013 and had a new team come to­gether around a base idea of tak­ing Rain­bow Six back, ex­plor­ing what made this fran­chise tick,” game de­signer

An­drew Witts tells us. “It was re­ally al­ways about one team breach­ing a strong­hold and mak­ing de­fend­ers in the strong­hold aware that the at­tack­ers are com­ing.”

Ter­ro­hunt di­verges from the big-bud­get shooter’s typ­i­cal set-piece-packed cam­paign trail. These self-en­closed sce­nar­ios are bound to­gether by a plot in which Six (played by An­gela Bas­sett) re­ac­ti­vates the long­dor­mant Rain­bow pro­gramme to com­bat the White Masks, a ter­ror­ist threat that strikes at the world’s ma­jor cities seem­ingly with­out mo­tive. As squad leader, you must as­sem­ble a squad of op­er­a­tives from real-world counter-ter­ror­ist units, such as the Marines, SAS, GIGN and Spet­snaz, to take them down.

The lo­ca­tion and mis­sion pa­ram­e­ters change but the phi­los­o­phy is al­ways the same: you and up to four oth­ers, whether hu­man or AI, in­fil­trate an area swarm­ing with en­e­mies to com­plete an ob­jec­tive. In Ter­ro­hunt Clas­sic the counter-in­sur­gents must elim­i­nate ev­ery threat, a task made more edgy by a lack of respawns. This is a game about cau­tiously scan­ning the scenery for signs of move­ment and ad­vanc­ing with a stealthy crouch-walk. When just a few bul­lets can in­ca­pac­i­tate you, the most ef­fec­tive tech­niques in­volve lean­ing around walls, check­ing the corners, and let­ting the guy with the riot shield go in first.

Dis­arm Bomb re­quires new strate­gies. Once you’ve lo­cated the ex­plo­sive, you’ll plant a dis­arm­ing de­vice and then have to fend off at­tacks from waves of en­e­mies who know your po­si­tion. In one round, our team trains its sights on the doors of an oval of­fice as White Masks smash through the win­dows. In the next stand­off, they co­or­di­nate a pin­cer move­ment by syn­chro­nis­ing wood-splin­ter­ing breaches through glossy pan­elled walls. The tempo slows and the ten­sion thick­ens be­fore erupt­ing into scenes of player-driven ac­tion.

En­emy archetypes call for tac­ti­cal ver­sa­til­ity, too. Engi­neers, for ex­am­ple, han­dle for­ti­fi­ca­tions, lay­ing down speed-sap­ping barbed-wire bar­ri­cades that need to be avoided or meleed out of ex­is­tence, while lightly armoured Roamers are the pit­bulls of the pack, al­ways on the move. Watch out

for the Al­pha, a shielded foe strapped into a bomb vest. He’ll charge at you and det­o­nate, so con­cen­trated fire is needed to drop him.

Higher dif­fi­cul­ties in­tro­duce harsher, but still fair, chal­lenges. On Re­al­is­tic, you might need to res­cue an NPC in Ex­tract Hostage within two min­utes rather than four, or face in­creased en­emy forces in Pro­tect As­set. While they’ll shoot more pre­cisely and evade more ca­pa­bly, en­e­mies never take more bul­lets to kill. With di­verse en­e­mies and ran­domised el­e­ments, Ter­ro­hunt is an or­ganic al­ter­na­tive to the tra­di­tional roller­coaster cam­paign ride.

Ubisoft Mon­treal is tak­ing PVP se­ri­ously, too. In com­pet­i­tive games, one team of five hun­kers down in a room as another team of five tries to get in and ei­ther defuse the bomb they’re pro­tect­ing or kill them all. The first phase lasts a minute and in­volves the at­tack­ers send­ing drones up stairs, through air vents and be­tween legs as they at­tempt to pin­point ev­ery de­fender. Maps aren’t big enough for play­ers to stay iso­lated for long, but the time also gives the de­fend­ing team a chance to bar­ri­cade doors and win­dows.

Each class has a unique role, char­ac­ter model, back­story and load­out. For the de­fend­ers, Castle erects durable Kevlar bar­ri­cades; Smoke re­motely det­o­nates chem­i­cal gas; Pulse tracks op­po­nents’ heart­beats; Rook drops Kevlar vests for team­mates; and Mute can knock out elec­tron­ics with a jam­mer de­vice. For the at­tack­ers, Ther­mite car­ries breach charges to rip through walls too sturdy for a ri­fle butt; Ash fires a long-dis­tance breach charge for when get­ting too close is a bad idea; Thatcher’s got EMP grenades to knock out nearby elec­tron­ics for a pe­riod of time; and Twitch can op­er­ate a drone via a wrist­mounted screen, shock­ing troops and dis­abling traps. In ad­di­tion to ten Op­er­a­tors, you’ve also got ac­cess to the Re­cruit, who is more of a blank-slate char­ac­ter and can be as­signed a more cus­tomised load­out.

“We de­signed the game to be a sand­box where play­ers can ex­press their cre­ativ­ity, and with the asym­met­ri­cal game­play they can do it on at­tack or they can do it on de­fence,” Witts says. “We also wanted to be all about strat­egy and com­mu­ni­ca­tion, where teams are com­mu­ni­cat­ing and be­ing cre­ative and plan­ning things out tac­ti­cally on the fly in the heat of bat­tle. The bet­ter team to com­mu­ni­cate and ex­e­cute will win.” Both fore­thought and flex­i­bil­ity are key.

In one cor­ner are the de­fend­ers, para­noid, hud­dled in a room with eyes glued to ev­ery con­ceiv­able en­trance. From the other emerge at­tack­ers on the hunt, des­per­ately work­ing out how to get in be­fore the four-minute time limit elapses. Team-spe­cific gad­gets draw play­ers into cer­tain mind­sets. De­fend­ers’ ac­cess to the heart­beat sen­sor in­vites them to ner­vously scan their sur­round­ings; at­tack­ers’ cam­era drones pro­vide the feel­ing of pok­ing into op­po­nents’ de­fences like a cat stick­ing its claws into a mouse hole. This dy­namic feels fresh, a stand­off where the build-up to the ac­tion is just as thrilling as the ac­tion it­self.

But Ubisoft is keen to re­fine game­play bal­ance and net­code ahead of an Oc­to­ber

Ter­ro­hunt is an or­ganic al­ter­na­tive to the tra­di­tional roller­coaster cam­paign ride

re­lease. Witts says his team is tweak­ing hit de­tec­tion and bal­lis­tics, and look­ing at adding a de­lay to the heart­beat sen­sor to dampen its ef­fec­tive­ness. “The whole game is go­ing through a bal­anc­ing phase based on us play­ing ev­ery day,” he says. “We’re a game that has a lot of online func­tion­al­ity. With Ter­ro­hunt be­ing match­made, and also that whole PVP of­fer­ing, the match­mak­ing needs to work off the bat. That’s why we’re open­ing it up to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble for the beta, so we can stress our servers, stress-test ev­ery­thing, our whole online piece of the game, so that when we launch there’s no sur­prise.” What is sur­pris­ing is how Rain­bow Six

Siege gets the se­ries back on track. Most mul­ti­player first­per­son shoot­ers deal in sym­met­ri­cal war­fare where two equally skilled, equally armed char­ac­ters clash on bat­tle­fields specif­i­cally de­signed to pre­vent ei­ther side hav­ing an overt ad­van­tage. Ubisoft spec­tac­u­larly re­struc­tures this dy­namic and in­vites you – in tense, tight, tac­ti­cal and very de­struc­tible stand­offs – to do the same.

Game de­signer An­drew Witts

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