Team sports are huge. We all know this as a fact. Despite the money they generate, they are also supposed to be a breeding grounds for ideals like camaraderie, sacrifice, communication and teamwork. With the evolution of gaming and e-sports it is obvious why companies are trying to perfect the multi-player experience to capture that team feeling.
Games like Halo and Call of Duty have millions of players online forming teams and playing together. The problem is that while these are fun games, there aren’t really any incentives that necessitate team work. Amidst the infinite respawns, souped up weapons and large explosions, team matches quickly can become a question of who has the best soldier rather than who has the best team.
A bunch of people heading in the same direction does not make a real team. Ask Lebron James if he prefers sharing the spotlight in Miami or being the man losing in Cleveland? The guys over at Ubisoft might have finally got the team-based multi-player experience right with Rainbow Six: Siege to where you actually realize that there is no “I” in team.
Rainbow Six: Siege, the 10th title under the Tom Clancy moniker, is a pleasant return to the tactical shooter games that made the series so popular and while the tone harkens back to the glory days of the series where tactics actually counted the game — also is targeting the burgeoning e-sports and online market. Fans of the previous games will be in for a bit of a change as the single player campaign has been ditched for an adversarial multiplayer experience that puts you as a member of a typically 5-man team working in concert to achieve a certain task based on your squad’s designation attacker or defender. Players have a choice of a number of characters called operators who are specialized military units from various parts of the world. Each operator has varying skills and equipment that is unique to them and how your team is comprised weighs heavily on how you will handle the objective. Thermite, for example, is an attacker who comes equipped with thermite breach charges that can burn through the strongest walls. Conversely, the defender Mute, uses a special jamming device that can protect certain areas from signals to detonate charges or utilize drones. Everything in Siege starts and ends with tactics and this is one of the areas that it stands apart from other games like it.
After choosing your team, the game proceeds based on what side you are on. If you’re an attacker there is a pre-match period where you take control of these pretty cool drones scurrying around to survey the layout and ideally find out defenses, entry points and other intel to further plan out your attack. Defenders on the other hand spend that time reinforcing their position, setting down traps and other ways to prevent the other team from achieving their goal based on the scenarios which can range from disabling a bomb to my personal favorite and most frustrating scenario — rescuing a hostage. In which you not only have to free the hostage but also extract them to safety, unless you have wiped out the other team. I learned this is the way to go in hostage scenarios after twice freeing the hostage and managing to get them killed by stray bullets during extraction T – n – T (Tension & Tactics).
While you might think this sounds like the run of the mill FPS it definitely is not. And the difference can be summed up in two words tension and tactics. When playing Siege there is this very ominous weight created during game play and it is woven into everything about the game and it feels amazing. Game play decisions like choosing your character to deciding which route to take have far reaching consequences.
The buildings where each level takes place are beautifully designed and can quickly become an asset or liability. There are numerous points of entry depending on how crafty an attacker is which means defenders must be vigilant in monitoring their surroundings or turn to get a final glimpse of a rappelling attacker just before he ends your game. Walls can be destroyed by breach weapons and sometimes even gunfire can pass through walls, and hit people hiding on the other side. Giving players a nervous feeling that nowhere is completely safe.
Sound also plays a huge role in this tension building as there is no real soundtrack. No fight anthems being pumped through speakers so it is you and your adversaries, and a thud off in the distance quickly registers as someone is coming and you get to decide do you wait for it or face it head on. That is, if you can figure out where it came from. And why is this so tension filled, well because there is no respawning. Once your player goes down, they’re down for the match. No respawn and depending on which stage you are in the battle, that can be a huge loss.
The other main difference in Siege is tactics. Where games like Call of Duty, or Battlefield look to make the experience beneficial for everyone via constant respawning, overpowered weapons and other things that can overshadow lack of skills for an army of one Rambo-esque type feel, enjoying and actually succeeding in Rainbow Six: Siege demands strategy and teamwork. From the beginning of the game who you and your team chooses will weigh heavily on how you approach the mission. If you chose an attacker who uses electronic breach weapons and the defenders have someone to counter — what’s your plan B? Also, every stage of the game needs to be taken cautiously.
This isn’t a spray n pray type of game and your team mates are essential to your overall success. The real fun in this game is playing with people who get that team aspect. Having played with a few people who didn’t get that led to some pretty frustrating moments. To go back to the earlier basketball analogy, to win at Siege you want your team built more Spurs than Cavs. Clicking on all cylinders, sharing information, coming up with a clear plan of attack and executing it is what makes the game so much fun. So if you’re thinking of Lebron James’ing it up and taking control you will learn quickly that the game has no place for hot dogs. There are no super soldiers in Siege. No, you have to use skills, tactics, your environment and most importantly your team
While there are some great points about the game, there are some drawbacks. While the multiplayer is exciting there is no real single player campaign. Instead that has been replaced with 10 missions that you can choose the difficulty and wipe out terrorists. While, enjoyable at first they are clearly just tutorials to get your skills sharpened for the multiplayer experience but playing with the AI does little to really get you prepared in the way of tactics. The other is the way you progress in the game.
When you first play the game you might feel like laying siege to the developers as everything seems to be locked. Now I understand wanting to reward people for continuous play, but to earn Renown — the in game currency you have to win matches and achieve secondary objectives. The problem, this takes a heck of a lot longer if things like suppressors and scopes are locked away. Also, behind those gilded walls are the rest of the operators and other goodies that make the game more enjoyable. Oh, and earning enough Renown through PVP matches is going to take a while. Ranked matches, which give you a chance to earn more PVP aren’t available until you reach a higher level. The only other option to generate Renown quicker is borrowed straight from free-to-play games and that’s to purchase renown with real world money and then use them to buy a “booster” that increases your renown intake. Which I can understand in games like League of Legends and the like, because they are free to play and even if you choose not to buy you can grind points to get what you want. Now that’s fine for a free game. But if I just dropped $60 on a game I’m going to be less inclined to put more money into it.
At the end of the day Rainbow Six: Siege is a good game full of dynamic enviornments, rich characters and engrossing game play that if word gets around could be the gateway game to a lot of new people getting involved in esports and competitive gaming.