Rainbow Six: Siege Beta Impressions
Going in to the Rainbow Six: Siege beta, I was pretty mixed on how I’d feel about the game. Through trailers and other promotional media I got a strong Counter-Strike vibe from the game which concerned me as I’ve never been a big fan of those games. So after a week of playing the recently finished multiplayer beta I can say I’m very pretty interested to see the full title when it releases in December.
Rainbow Six: Siege is a multiplayer only first-person shooter featuring 5 v 5 multiplayer modes. The beta featured two modes, “Secure Area” and “Bomb.” The modes are fairly simple, Secure Area features an item in a certain room which the attacking team need to secure and Bomb features two bombs in the map with the attacking team attempting to defuse one of the bombs. Attacking teams can win the round by either completing their objective while both teams can win the round by eliminating all players on the opposing team.
The beta featured three different maps which all featured similar designs. Maps are centre around a single building with multiple floors. The maps in the beta featured an Embassy, a training building for soldiers in England and a suburban house. The rounds open up with a “preparation phase.” In this phase, the defending team preparing for the assault by barricading doors and walls, placing items such as shields and barbed wire on the ground as well as using their special equipment to prepare for the upcoming assault. Meanwhile, the attacking team control small drones to scout out the building, with these drones the attacking team attempt to locate the objectives and well as any traps or players. The defending teams can shoot and destroy the drones to stop the attacking team locating anything which can potentially leave the defending team unaware of the location of the objective or even where the defending team may be hiding.
Once the “preparation phase” is over, the attacking team prepare their assault. The game is round based, meaning when players are killed. They don’t respawn until the next round with games playing until one team wins three rounds. Players alternate between attacking and defending teams, with different “Operators” to play as for both attackers and defenders. Operators are made up from different special forces from across the world, SAS, FBI/SWAT, GIGN, GSG9 and Spetznaz.
The Operators system seems partially by MOBAs such as League of Legends or DOTA 2, instead of having the open more customisable load-out systems seen in games like Call of Duty. Players choose “Operators” who have a much more limited range of weapons, in most cases it’s usually a choice between an assault rifle, SMGs or a shotgun with some of the heavier classes also having access to LMGs and Riot Shields. Each Operator has a specific ability too. For example, “Sledge” is an attacking team Operator whose special ability is a sledgehammer which can destroy barricaded doors and windows with one hit. Only one player can play as a specific operator in a mission, with players also having the choice to play as a standard recruit essentially trading in a special ability for a wider range of weapons and equipment.
In standard gameplay, I didn’t find myself becoming particularly angry with any specific operators, other then frustrations with the riot shield operator classes. While it’s fair to say that dealing with them in a one-on-one encounter is likely to end badly, I still think the shields need some sort of durability meter instead or some system that sees them become weaker the more they’ve been shot. While the shield still has some draw backs, such as forced hip-fire with the shield up, it still seems like the hip-fire is a little to accurate. I can’t really count the amount of times while using the shield that I would move in to a room and immediately head-shot an enemy with my first shot or have the same thing happen to me. Otherwise classes seem fairly balanced, which is a very tricky thing to pull off in general let alone for a Beta. That being said, not all of the Operators are available in the beta so that balance will be much harder to maintain upon the release of the full game.
Game-play wise, the gun-play is solid and responsive. There’s a variety of ways to begin your attack, you can rappel up any wall on the building and use it to either breach through a window or climb to the roof. Breaching is suitably risky, while it can set up ambush attacks it can also leave you heavily exposed to enemy fire if they catch you first. One of the things I really like the most about this game is how it really feels like attack and defend style. While most games with similar modes often feature open areas or allow a ton of freedom for both sides. Siege’s maps are small and while the buildings are filled with tight corridors, it truly adds to the tension when the defending team are waiting carefully for the assault to begin. What makes this experience even more tense is the use of sound. There’s no music, or excessive announcer chatter. All you can hear is faint ambience, and the sounds of other players moving through the building. I spent my time playing with a Giotech HC4 headset and the sound design is superb, it really adds another level of tension for both sides. You can hear player character dialogue or even footsteps and it makes it more tense as they slowly get louder and closer.
One of Rainbow Six: Siege’s biggest features is the destruction features, while it’s nothing on the level of Red Faction. Siege’s destruction is sharp and well thought out, aside from destroying barricades on doors and windows, players can make holes in drywall, wooden walls and floors. Most of this destruction can allow players to create small holes to shoot other players through. On the other hand, with the help of breaching charges, players can blow huge holes in walls creating new doorways or access points bringing a whole new level of tactics and ways to surprise and attack other players. It’s worth noting, not all walls are destructible but it’s usually pretty easy to figure out which floors and walls you can punch a hole in.
If competitive multiplayer isn’t your thing, the game also features a mode called “Terrorist Hunt.” The nature of it is simple, up to 5 players team up and eliminate all AI targets in a map. All the normal mechanics and operators are usable in this mode with players coordinating to carefully move through each floor and successfully eliminate terrorists. The enemies are scattered across every floor and can easily kill an unaware player if they aren’t paying attention. The mode is simple and enjoyable wherever you play with friends or by yourself. The only thing that lets it down is suicide bombers, when they activate they suddenly start sprinting at you without warning, being able to match your movement speed even when you sprint and taking a ridiculous amount of damage to kill. It completely breaks the nature of this mode. Like multiplayer, it’s about slow, careful play, using tactics and communication to take down targets. So when there’s this guy that can suddenly sprint at the player, take a stupid amount of damage and blow himself up at short notice with a large blast radius it’s extremely out of place and frustrating. The other problem with this mode is the AI, who have a tendency to suddenly just run outside of the building at the first sign of trouble.
For a beta, there were a fair few problems, the most common ones I found were connection issues, with the time between rounds being incredibly long because we were stuck waiting for one player to connect properly. I experience frame rate drops during some games, not enough to completely disrupt the game-play but enough of a drop to bug the living hell out of me. Sometimes my drone would randomly just fall through the ground during preparation phases. The biggest problem I encountered was not that frequent, but happened a couple of times and is a serious problem. Sometimes upon starting a round as an attacker I’d be stuck on the spot, unable to move at all. That’s the worst thing I encountered so that better be fixed when the game is released.
In closing, Rainbow Six: Siege’s beta has me very impressed. I enjoyed the slower, methodical nature of the combat. The tighter more limited map design helps create a sense of claustrophobia heightened by the fact that there’s people inside the building that’ll kill you on instantly if they get the chance. The operators seem fairly balanced so far, but I think the number of operators that will be in the main game will be substantially more so seeing if the developers can maintain that level of balance between operators is going to be a tough one. The only thing holding me back from wanting to buy this game is that despite having no single-player campaign it’s still a fully priced game.
Check out this accolades trailer below –
Rainbow Six: Siege has tons of potential, the beta was technically sound with a few bugs and the multiplayer experience proved to be enjoyable with or without friends. I’m interested, not 100% sold on it yet, but very interested indeed.