Developed by Ubisoft Montreal, Rainbow Six: Siege is an asymmetrical tactical shooter that launched in early December 2015, breaking a long silence from the series, whose previous entry, Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, dates back to 2008. An interim game, Rainbow Six: Patriots, had been in development, but the narrative-driven title was canceled in 2014 to make way for the more competitive, multiplayer-focused Siege.
What we said at the time
I reviewed the game, firstly playing the PC version at Ubisoft's offices for about eight hours, and then continuing on with the PS4 iteration at home.
While my review was generally very positive, I wasn't particularly impressed with Situations, the game's single-player mode, stating that it, "feels like a series of training missions that exist only to prepare you for the multiplayer main events: Terrorist Hunt and PvP." My issue was that, "There's little in the way of randomization, and as long as you follow roughly the same path each time you tackle them – assuming that path is a good one – you'll largely have the same kind of experience in terms of where enemies are camped, and where there might be booby-traps and the like. That means completing each mission basically involves you finding and memorizing the optimal path through the level." However, I did note that, "Situations does a good job in helping you learn how to play the game, even if it's not its most enjoyable aspect."
Another aspect of the game that was cause for concern was its content, which I felt was, "a little on the slim side." However, I also pointed out that, "with four sets of free maps promised over the next year, Rainbow Six: Siege will build out to feel a lot more substantial than it does today."
Finally, I also leveled criticism at the PS4 version's controls. While I had no problems with the PC iteration, which I played using an Xbox One joypad, I mentioned that on PS4, "Aiming feels very different to the PC version, and it took a lot of fiddling with the dead zone and X and Y speed settings to get the gun into a place that felt comfortable for me. It's just very light and wafty, and I initially found I constantly over-aimed and couldn't center the gun reticle on the targets I was trying to hit, which was frustrating."
Once I'd adjusted the settings sufficiently enough to tighten up the gun movement, I started to properly enjoy myself. I had plenty of praise for the two main multiplayer modes, Terrorist Hunt and PvP stating that they, "are excellent, and offer a great deal of tactical depth." I went on to say that, "playing as a team is a lot of fun, and while the experience can vary greatly depending on who you're grouped up with, what's clear is that when everything comes together, Rainbow Six: Siege is a really tense, thrilling and exciting first-person shooter that has a very different approach and style to most other FPS titles. It's a truly strategic game whose very well designed environments facilitate some terrific encounters, from intense firefights in close quarters to protracted games of cat-and-mouse as individuals sweep rooms looking for one another."
Rainbow Six: Siege received a generally positive reaction from critics. The PC version was the most favored, garnering a metascore of 79, while the PS4 and Xbox One versions didn't fare quite as well, scoring 73 and 74 respectively.
The lack of launch content was a common theme amongst many reviews. Game Rant said, "Rainbow Six: Siege has the polish of a big budget release, but the amount of content that one expects to see from a low budget free-to-play game," while Play UK noted, "What it lacks in single-player content, Rainbow Six: Siege makes up in sheer quality." Dutch site, PSX-Sense.nl offered similar sentiments, noting that, "There's a lot of depth and strategy to be found in Rainbow Six: Siege, especially when you're playing with a headset. However, the lack of content is something to be considered when pondering the game's retail price." IGN was far more blunt: "My time with Siege leaves me feeling like this Rainbow Six revival is a skeleton with not a lot of meat on its bones."
Rainbow Six Siege's gameplay was almost universally acclaimed, however. German site 4Players.de's reviewer admitted, "This is my dream come true: Rainbow Six: Siege rewards careful progress instead of a quick rush. Positioning is more important than reaction time and teamwork is a must. This is tactically challenging and straightforward action at its best." PC Gamer were equally positive, saying that "Rainbow Six: Siege is an accessible and deeply satisfying shooter that rewards planning and teamwork over a quick trigger finger."
Few reviews mentioned the server issues that plagued Rainbow Six: Siege's launch. Over the days following the game's release, players had to deal with continual connection errors and a great deal of lag, which rendered the game virtually unplayable. Ubisoft was quick to respond, though, and by the end of the launch week had the situation under control – but not before the official forums were awash with complaints from frustrated players.
Content since release
Ubisoft's support for Rainbow Six: Siege was excellent throughout 2016, with four free DLC packs released that each brought a new map and pair of operators to the game. Operation Black Ice was the first to appear in February and was set in Canada, while Operation Dust Line took the action to the Middle East when it was released in May. The Brazilian-set Operation Skull Rain was launched in August, and was followed in November by the Japanese-based Operation Red Crow.
Additionally, Ubisoft has announced that support for the game will continue in 2017, with another four DLC packs to be released throughout the year, set in Spain, Hong Kong, Poland, and South Korea respectively.
Rainbow Six: Siege does feature microtransactions, but they don't affect the core gameplay. The game currency is Renown, which is earned through normal play and can be used to unlock custom characters and weapon attachments. Alternately, R6 Credits can be bought with cash to unlock characters and weapon skins instantly, and to also speed up the leveling process for a limited period of time.
So does it hold up?
Playing Rainbow Six: Siege again has been an interesting experience. What I love about it is that it's very different from most run-and-gun FPS games. It features objective-based missions where each team of five takes turns respectively attacking and defending. Since everyone only has one life, you have to play really conservatively. There's no rushing in and gunning down all and sundry – try doing that, and you'll get eliminated in very short order. Instead, you have to advance slowly and carefully, checking all corners and angles for the enemy, and making sure that you cover your teammates. It's a tactical and cerebral experience that's a far cry from the likes of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and Titanfall 2.
The destructible environments are really impressive, and make the game a lot of fun – and stressful too. Since I'm not particularly familiar with the maps, I found it a little tricky knowing which walls, windows, and doors I should bash through to get the best line of sight, and which to avoid so I wouldn't find myself immediately staring down the barrel of an enemy's gun. That ultimately highlights something very important about Rainbow Six: Siege, and that is it's a game that really needs to be learned if you're serious about playing it well. While that's true for most games, I think you really need to become very intimate with its maps, and the functionality of the different operators to get the most out of it. In other words, it's a game that you need to invest time into – it's not very well suited for casual play.
I've been playing the PS4 version, and I have to say that I still have problems with its gunplay. I find myself constantly fiddling with the settings to try to give my weapon a bit more weight and momentum, but I just can't see to get it right. I can get the controls into a place where I'm okay with it, but that’s my problem – I'm just okay with it. I don't feel I can aim as precisely as I can with the likes of Call of Duty, which is annoying in a game where one's ability to react quickly and very accurately to a situation is absolutely critical to success. I think much of this is simply down to my personal control preference, and your mileage might vary, of course, but while playing, I get the feeling I'm just not realizing my full potential. Perhaps if I played the game all the time, I'd get used to it, but as someone who rarely plays, I find the controls frustrating.
Apart from that bugbear, though, I think Rainbow Six: Siege is a great game that's held up very well indeed. It's an altogether more tense and thoughtful tactical shooter that really plays up teamwork well, and has a gameplay style that's unlike anything else I've played.
Verdict: Bottom line, Rainbow Six: Siege is in a better state now than it was at launch. Thanks to its free DLC, it now features fifteen maps, and delivers an impressive roster of player characters to choose from – and there's more to come throughout 2017. If you're after an FPS that has a unique pace and style, and if you're willing to put in the time to really learn the game's many subtleties, I think Rainbow Six: Siege is well worth playing.