Rainbow Six Seige
PC, PS4, Xbox One
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