Written by: Jake Beatrice (1,000+ Hour Siege Vet)
Rainbow Six: Siege didn’t exactly explode onto the multiplayer scene. After an insidiously misleading E3 trailer in 2014 and a heartbreakingly underwhelming closed alpha, Siege’s December 2015 launch was mostly met with unenthused “it’s okay”s, with only a few review outlets praising the game’s thoughtful design. Here we have a competitive, multiplayer-only military shooter with serious infrastructure and networking issues, a multitude of severe bugs, a sixty-dollar sticker price, micro-transactions, and the red-flag warning label “Ubisoft” on the cover. We are now approaching the end of 2017, and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege has over 25 million players, an e-sports league, and a third year of content on the horizon. How did this happen?
Ever heard of Counter-Strike? The most popular competitive shooter in the world doesn’t sit on a throne of arcade-style action fueled by an addictive “just one more round” mentality. Rather, the fun of Valve Software’s Counter-Strike comes from a clash of raw, unvarnished skill vs. skill. Five-on-five matches with permanent deaths combined with instant kill weapons has players strategizing rather than improvising. While it could be argued that no game is perfectly balanced, CS comes dangerously close. The best players almost always win. 2012’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the most recent entry, bringing the biggest shooter of the early 2000’s to 1080p 144hz monitors across the world. Other than those graphical and performance improvements, however, the core game is identical. As it turns out, it’s exceedingly difficult to expand upon the first person shooter equivalent of chess. This is where Siege comes in.
Siege doesn’t necessarily improve on Counter-Strike. It would be more accurate to say Siege acts as an updated alternative to Counter-Strike. With the incorporation of wall and floor destruction, more drastic level verticality, and character-centric gadgets and abilities, Siege offers the same heart-pounding, mind-melting, team-based tactical gameplay as CS, but with its own unique flavor. On top of that flavor lies layers upon layers of perfectly-blended topping. More than a dozen new operators (each with their own weapons) have been successfully woven into Siege’s meta-game, along with several new maps, bug fixes, gameplay and quality-of-life improvements, new features, gadgets, cosmetics, and so much more. While Counter-Strike is still fun, and will probably stand its ground as the more popular game, it seems to have reached an endpoint in terms of earth-shattering content.
Two years after launch, it is still an exciting time to be a Rainbow Six player. New strategies are constantly evolving, more free content is in the works, and the game itself is improving, thanks to the dedicated, hard-working, communicative team at Ubisoft-Montreal. It should come as no surprise that the game recently hit the 25 million player milestone, despite its technical shortcomings. Simply put, from a game design perspective, Siege is brilliant. Even years deep into Ubisoft’s signature shooter, it feels as though players have only scratched the surface of what’s possible in Siege. As the game continues to receive long-term support, Rainbow Six: Siege will stand as a bright example of players giving second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth chances when a game truly deserves them. Sure, you may clip through the map and receive an undeserved death on match point in the most important ranked game of your career, but Siege has more than proven itself to be worth the trouble.