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Rainbow Six: Siege review: an exceptional FPS held back by its flaws

The title has risen from remnants of Rainbow Six: Patriots; a previously-canceled project in the series that explored similar themes, but never came to fruition. Rainbow Six: Siege marks Ubisoft's first attempt at a Rainbow Six title since Tom Clancy's passing, but despite this, the studio has promised to keep the legendary author's name on its properties.

Following in the footsteps of its fabled predecessor, Rainbow Six: Vegas, the game compiles staple features that have come to be expected from a Rainbow Six title. Mainly influenced by the classics, Ubisoft Montreal has tailored the series for the current generation, blending its iconic tactical gameplay with a competitive multiplayer experience.

Disclosure: This review was conducted on Xbox One using a retail copy purchased by the writer.

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Gameplay

Three main modes are currently available in Rainbow Six Siege, each offering a variation on the game's universal formula. Influences from previous titles are most evident here, taking game modes such as the iconic 'Terrorist Hunt' mode from Rainbow Six: Vegas and re-introducing them with reworked mechanics. Terrorist Hunt is Rainbow Six: Siege's solution for a cooperative mode and blends PvE combat with online team play. In this mode, players are tasked with completing various objectives, while terrorist forces attempt to repel the siege. Terrorist Hunt doesn't hugely diverge from its roots, but delivers a fun, yet challenging experience when playing alone or with friends. On the basis that I've still yet to complete a level on the game's hardest difficulty, it's safe to say that it poses a significant test.

The meat of Rainbow Six Siege can be found in the game's multiplayer mode, which aims to be the first big-budget close-quarters tactical shooter on the current generation of consoles. While Counter-Strike: Global Offensive dominates the competitive shooter space on PC, Rainbow Six: Siege aims to emulate that success on the Xbox One. With that absence, Siege is one of the few tactical shooters available on the Xbox One.

Ubisoft has attempted to build upon the eSports scene where Counter-Strike flourishes, with distinct influences from its competitive game modes and progression. Rainbow Six: Siege has been developed to maintain the sharp learning curve that made Counter-Strike so compelling, with ranked playlists and levels tailored for competitive play. While the asymmetrical loadouts and level design do have the potential to hinder the game's popularity in the competitive scene, the game offers many features that would be embraced in eSports leagues.

The game ships with eleven maps out of the box but feels limited for a multiplayer-centric title.

Tacked onto these two modes is a single-player 'Scenarios' mode, which presents solo players with pre-prepared encounters that introduce a majority the game's mechanics and multiplayer levels. The mode is strongly recommended when first picking up the title; including veterans of the Rainbow Six franchise. As Rainbow Six: Siege does a lot to part itself from the stereotypical modern shooter, these tutorials are necessary to understand how each gadget and operator is used. The mode offers little regarding replayability but serves as a way to quickly learn the core mechanics of the multiplayer experience.

Rainbow Six: Siege's level design plays a critical role in the game's atmosphere, with a majority of objectives being placed deep within buildings, surrounded by tight hallways and corners. The game ships with eleven maps out of the box, which feels limited for a multiplayer-centric title. Regardless of the number of maps, each level included on the disc is well designed and makes full use of Rainbow Six: Siege's unique mechanics. All the multiplayer maps are highly destructible, with most walls and floors being vulnerable to gunfire, explosives, and melee attacks. The game uses this to its advantage, with alternative routes and sight-lines that can be accessed by breaking down weaker geometry. Many rooms inside buildings may only have a limited number of entry points, but various vulnerabilities in walls, ceilings and floors can be exploited to get the drop on unsuspecting opponents.

Connectivity issues are one of the biggest problems I experienced, prevalent in a greater part of my personal play sessions. The game has improved since launch, but disconnecting from servers is still a frequent occurrence that plagues an otherwise great multiplayer experience. When the title first launched, making any connection to Ubisoft's servers seemed a challenge, but this issue appears to be largely resolved as of late. It wouldn't usually be such an issue, but when a large portion of the game is dependent on internet connectivity, it's hard to look past these concerns. Thankfully, Ubisoft is days away from shipping a patch to further improve upon the game's connectivity problems.

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Loadouts and Customization

Rainbow Six: Siege's loadout system is handled via twenty different 'Operators', which act as classes to determine equipment and weapons. At the start of each game, players are assigned to either the attacking or defending teams and select an Operator to use over the course of the round. A selection of ten unique Operators is available per team, each with differing weapons and gadgets to aid the playstyle that the character encourages. Each Operator can only be selected once per round, which creates balanced teams with varying skillsets.

Operators can be equipped with a limited selection of weapons, with some armaments unique to a single character. The game features in-depth customization for all weapons, allowing the player to equip various sights, grips and barrel attachments to increase the performance of weapons. Guns can also be given a unique flair with vibrant paint jobs, inspired by Counter-Strike's iconic plethora of outlandish skins.

It should be noted that despite the large disposal of weapons and gadgets, the Operators feel perfectly balanced. While some setups will always have the upper hand in certain situations, never did I feel the equipment tendered a significant advantage. Over the coming months, new Operators will be making their way to Rainbow Six: Siege, but will have to slide smoothly into the existing roster to not harm the game's balance. These characters play a significant role in keeping the teams equal, making it crucial that this isn't changed by new additions.

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Atmosphere and Presentation

Due to a lack of a substantial single-player mode, Rainbow: Six Siege's surrounding fiction is far less developed in comparison to previous Rainbow Six games. A setup of the game's premise is presented via an introductory cutscene that tells of the current terrorist threat and plans to combat it. The fiction covered here is only loosely referenced in gameplay, and far from memorable.

Rainbow Six: Siege's atmosphere is perfectly executed and potentially the strongest part of the package.

Rainbow Six: Siege's greatest strengths can be found in the title's atmosphere and design, rather than the gameplay itself. The warzone of Rainbow Six: Siege is a punishing environment, regarding gameplay and atmosphere. The game tests your abilities to operate in tense situations and uses fear as a method of slowing the pace before an encounter. Being on constant alert is pivotal here, by listening out for sound cues and visual hints that could suggest danger is close by. When loud noises or explosions are triggered, the game's pace often increases, as players quickly converge upon the objective amidst the chaos. Ubisoft has attempted to capture the tension of a real battlefield, raising the stakes above what is often seen in modern shooters. In the game's flagship modes, players are unable to respawn or regenerate health, forcing a reserved playstyle. Player lives in Rainbow: Six Siege are a valuable asset, which is increasingly rare to see in any genre of video game.

The game doesn't shy away from brutal combat either, with heavy and responsive weapons, excessive blood splatters and natural ragdoll physics. Over my time in the game, I often found remnants of gunfights, where blood-drenched hallways were littered with various traps and gadgets. Rainbow Six: Siege is one of the few games I have seen that uses atmospheric tension to change the pacing of multiplayer gameplay, and successfully convey an acrid environment. If anything, Rainbow Six: Siege's atmosphere is perfectly executed and potentially the strongest part of the package.

Gunplay in Rainbow: Six Siege is less dependent on being a sharpshooter and can be often won through the use of strategic positioning. The lean mechanic, utilized by clicking the two sticks when aiming down sights, enables the player to peak around corners and take shots at the enemy. This feature makes gunfights in Rainbow Six Siege feel unique in opposition to the recent trends of rapid movement and short time-to-kill.

The game rewards players who plan their attacks; and while patience is key, knowing when to be aggressive can make the difference in an encounter. This results in constant fluctuation in pace, where the player will be forced to consider their actions, rather than to embark on a mindless killing spree.

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Value

While the core gameplay of Rainbow Six: Siege has been successfully executed as whole, multiple instances of in-game purchases hold back the title's potential. I personally found the use of micro-transactions to be far from obtrusive, but some players may feel hindered by their implementation. Two types of currency are currently used in Rainbow Six Siege. The first, being Renown, is earned for most tasks in the game. Completing matches and performing well in-game will grant higher Renown yields and can be used to purchase operators, attachments and weapon skins. R6 Credits, which are purchased from the Xbox Store, can be redeemed to obtain Renown boosters, equipment or weapon skin packs. On top of these microtransactions, a season pass is also available for purchase, which offers Renown boosts, new skins and early access to new operators.

All items that affect gameplay can be earned without passing over any real-world cash, but the game encourages additional purchases to progress at a faster rate. It appears Ubisoft isn't ashamed of this practice either, with the 'Shop' tab being displayed upon start-up, and numerous references to the marketplace throughout the game's menus. The promotion of these purchases walks a fine line, but some will find them nothing more than a hindrance to interface navigation. Conversely, the developer does promise to support the game into the near future with free maps and other content updates, to prevent a division in the population.

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Conclusion

Rainbow Six: Siege is a great return to the franchise, and offers an experience that should satisfy the majority of fans of the series. The atmosphere and gameplay are almost perfect, but with such a limited number of experiences outside of the multiplayer, for me, certain areas of the title have started to feel hollow. Constant connectivity issues still riddle flagship game modes, resulting in numerous disconnects or extended periods of multiplayer matchmaking. In time, these problems should be resolved, but it currently feels that the extra polish the game deserves is absent.

Pros:

  • Flawless portrayal of atmosphere
  • Responsive weapon and gadget mechanics
  • Delivers an experience similar to classic Rainbow Six titles

Cons:

  • Frequent connectivity issues
  • Lack of replayability

Aside from these minor gripes, Rainbow Six: Siege is one of my favorite first-person shooters in recent years, thanks to an exceptional execution of an ambitious concept. There are areas where the game could be expanded upon, but the core mechanics are enough to reap continuously hours of entertainment. With such a high asking price on digital marketplaces, a price drop may be what this game needs to succeed. Despite these grievances, Rainbow Six: Siege is a great return for the Rainbow Six franchise, which has left me eager for a successor.

Matt Brown is a senior editor at Future for Windows Central. Following six years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Xbox and Windows PCs. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

45 Comments
  • Sounds like a great game, but always-online is a bit of a bummer.
  • Reminds me of Payday 2. I love co-op games but this is till expensive.
  • "Swipe to right to click 'Show in Browser' to view this content". What is this? Even Windows Central doesn't support their Windows Phone app anymore? I paid for this app. Can't even read articles in it now...
  • This was always happened on some articles youngster!
  • The Windows Central app has done this for years, and it wouldn't be a problem, but I can't find any rhyme or reason as to why it does that so sporadically. Some reviews will make you do that, others won't. Mobile Nation's cross-posts sometimes do it, but not always. It's so maddening!
  • The review template we implemented early last year doesn't play nicely with the app. Or it doesn't with the old app, at least. We're hoping naturally the forthcoming one will be better.
  • Not just reviews. In the past, Mobile Nation cross posts have done it too.
  • It does suck. But what's worse is that I haven't received comment replies in some months now. Yea ive emailed to them about it. But nothing gets fixed. Sometimes the app freezes out too and closes. HTC m8 for windows user here.
  • Same here
  • Yep, haven't received a single notification in almost a year.
  • Get used to getting ignored, that is the window central way
  • Yeah I cant seem to get ant notifications about comment replies in both WP app and Android (which very very unfortunately I have got as a phone since my lumia's screen broke* and my dad gave me his phone, its disgusting!)
    *Note: the lumia 625 was thrown down with the force as if someone threw it purposely at the ground, shattering the screen but still in working condition (I think it only broke because the corners were already chipped off from so much beating). #lumiafan #buyingPanosPanay'sPhone
  • THIS ^^^ times a bajillion
  • Hahaha about to say the same thing. Great app hampered by the business model of users always having to open content in the browser. Guess the app doesn't bring enough revenue to upkeep the site.
  • Amazing
  • Could not agree more myse.... Oohhh, new guy!
  • You're right! Welcome Matt!
  • Thanks! Happy to be a part of the team!
  • I would have listed lack of campaign mode as one of the cons. And certainly the pricing.
  • Lack of campaign in any game is just being lazy. To me that just makes it feel like a cash grab.
  • Some games just don't work nor need a campaign. Besides, is it even worth it if the campaign sucks?
  • I do agree that the lack of a single-player campaign does deviate away from the traditional Rainbow Six experience, but the multiplayer gameplay alone makes up for this. A lower price point may be what this game needs.
  • It's time repetitive games evolved into unique and innovative ones that offer content that makes their high prices seem compelling...
    Unravel is a great example. Posted via the Windows Central App
  • It's broken by horrible servers and awful hit detection.
  • Picked up for £30 on release day amd not looked back.. Amazing game.. So tactical and you get a real buzz when pulling off a sneaky kill.. I have massive backlig but one of few shooters I've pumped time into since titanfall
  • If its £25 or less.. Buy it
  • Oh the servers are ***** however
  • Loved the franchise and proably spent a couple hundred hours on Vegas 1 & 2 but I didn't want to touch it on what they did with it alone but the price and gouging was what really nailed that coffin. Given it's state, the game would be a must have at $30 or if it was $60 WITH all the content and up coming map packs
  • Disagree with the microtransactions comments. Ubisoft only got my money for the game. I have all operators, all weapon mods, and some of the skins without dropping an extra dime. I am hearing that new operators will be expensive, but with regular play they are not out of reach.
    Agree with connectivity. It has gotten better...
    This game is tough, but I can't put the controller down, it's so much fun
  • meanwhile piratebay users enjoy the game's without its cons
  • Hate that your own team members can kill you for no reason barely 5 seconds into the match and with no respawns. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I don't think microtransactions limit the game at all. For now, and according to Ubi, through the life cylce of the season pass (one year) all maps, operators, game modes and weapons will be available to all users. Only operators need to be bought, but it can be done with in game currency, that you earn just by playing. Rumor as it that each operator will cost 25000 renown, something that a regular player can get in 3 to 4 weeks. Season pass holders get the new operators for free. As for gun skins, it's purely cosmetic and only some can only be bought with real money. But all gameplay content is available to everyone. 
    With that being said, best FPS I've played in ages. Like the review says, it's the atmosphere. Amazing. A warning: not COD, not BF.
    It's a totally diferent ball game. Slow paced, well planed and executed rounds. Or the oposite, but always fun. 
    The only thing holding back the game is the servers **** up. It's frustrating to be on a round having a lot of fun only to lose connection to the server. It's getting a lot better, but it still happens.
    One final note: I too tried and tried to finish one Terrorist Hunt on Realistic (the hardest mode). It's a real challenge. Even with a coordinated team, coms and time. It says a lot on the focus of this game.
  • the problem is that when comparing it to an older game like BF4, that it looks like an absolute joke content and customization-wise - and this is ignoring the full campaign. EA gave you an option to pay to unlock early, but that aside it was ALL available if you wanted to work for it. Sure it took a new turn and with the new elements still looks a step back from the last 2 games, with their larger, higher capacity open maps. The entire focus, scale, and state of the multiplayer ought to be just one of several available modes. Ubisoft should work quick and do a combo of what they did with the Crew and AC Unity: Give them something free - like a full game, as an apology to the current players and as something to entice new players to purchase (perhaps even a price drop because that game is not worth $60) and then hurry to let people know they are working on a large overhaul like the Crew got so that they have some hope
  • I use a third party app I've been using since 7. Yeah you read that right! And it's still working in 10 too! Boom!!
  • the operators are kinda lame, i would of prefered if they were handled as classes and i could create a character to fit into that class with my own look like in the prevous rainbow 6 titles
  • But then that's like every other modern FPS game. I rather like the fresh approach they took.
  • I agree with the ariticle, but I can't get enough of this game. The netcode, prespective, connections issues, defenders leaving the area, and anti-cheat measures have been the typical issue with the game.  Ubi has been working on it and are up to patch 1.3.  So far it's been some good improvements.  I thought it was going to go the way of Medal Of Honor Warfighter.
  • A micro-transaction multiplayer focus shooter with limited (and no campaign) co-op capabilities? Pass,  you get no money UbiSoft.   Play other people for suckers on your vampire money sucking game. Here is to hoping you dont screw up The Division.
  • Dont let the author fool you. The microtransactions are a non-issue. You by no means have to buy anything and it's not like you're at a disadvantage if you dont. You can buy nearly anything you can by via microtranactions via in-game currency you earn by playing. The game is really really REALLY good. It's certainly refershing if you found that FPS's were all beginning to blend together  
  • Love the game, it does have its flaws but name me a game that doesn't. Loss of severs, team kill, wait time to find teammates, but the game is fast (rounds wise) very tactical, and very fun when you have a good team. The game doesn't force you to by the micros in the game. I have everything and even got a free booster from the ubisoft club that's tied into the game. Overall 8/10 no campaign, (The Division is coming) bugs/errors (being addressed) server issues (being addressed) are the only knocks I have with this game. If anything more games are following this type of trend and if its good I got no real problems with that as long as the developers are working to make the game better which ubisoft are.
  • The reviewer is just flat out wrong.  The microtransactions don't inhibit the game in any way.  Without buying any of them, I have all the operators unlocked.  The microtransactions don't feel forced either, unlike games like Destiny.   Also, the "lack of replayability" is just completely off base too.  I guess Call of Duty lacks replayability also then.   How long did you play it for this review?
  • While the gameplay itself isn't repetitive, the lack of multiplayer modes and singleplayer content does hinder a great concept in my opinion. I played the game for around 25 hours I'd guess :)
  • I'm waiting for Ghost Recon Wildlands.
     
  • I was really excited for this one, until I played the beta. No one used a mic, making any cnocept of tactics pointless. I simply don't have adedicated group of friends to always play these games with, so not being able to go in by myself and have a good time is a huge negative. The classes didn't offer much in the way of compelling gameplay to me, and the gameplay itself felt like a silent camping trip. So much of it was offense/defense that was boiled down to hiding in a corner and shooting a guy in the back (when on defense), or being shot in the back (when on offense). The variety of strategy in the objective-based mode I played just felt lacking. That, and like most console shooters, careful bursts of fire were rarely (if ever) situationally superior to spray-and-pray tactics. This, thanks to the ridiculous prevalence of Aim Assist in console shooter. Man, I wish that concept would die.
  • RIP Vegas... You were both, what had, and a should have been what is now.