We recently went hands-on with Rainbow Six Siege on PC and Xbox One. And by “we” I don’t mean the royal we, I mean a few savvy cats from Team AusGamers. Joab was there to help me one minute, then smack-talk the next (in fairness, we had switched sides at that stage). Steve was on hand to try to lead our team of merry (and mostly insubordinate) miscreants, and I was there to test out the shotgun.
Seriously, give me any game with guns and I’ll always want to know how a buckshot-spewer performs compared to other games. For the record, in Siege, beyond about 10 metres it’s difficult to tell how effective the shotgun is, with multiple centre-mass shots required to fell an enemy. Like a lot of modern shooters, Siege offers visual shot feedback via a hit indicator on the crosshair except, during our play-through, it really only seemed to come up when you’d killed an enemy. At least, that’s what it looked like to me.
This is a bit confusing at first, particularly if you’re used to shooters that offer crosshair indicators for every hit, even if it’s a flashbang thrown around a corner. If my appraisal was correct, it makes a lot of sense to not have a hit indicator for absolutely everything in Siege, particularly with its emphasis on realism. For instance, when you start spamming rounds through a wall to kill an enemy who you can hear in the next room but cannot see, it’d feel a bit cheap to know exactly where to shoot after fluking a round into their leg.
Back to the shotgun, it’s incredibly deadly in Siege in a one shot kind of way within 10 metres. Just ask Joab: I accidentally shot him in the back of the head as he stormed into a room. We had a nice crossfire situation going on opposite sides of the door but, thanks to a miscommunication, I was still trying to shotgun an enemy to death outside of its effective range and he thought the room was clear. Friendly fire is most definitely switched on all the time in Siege; hell, in a later round, our opponents were one operative down after a pre-round instance of blue-on-blue shooting.
Clear communication is essential in Siege. The round before the one where I headshot Joab, we’d trounced the AI opponents in five-player Terrohunt mode on PC. The enemy AI was on a relatively low difficulty for that first round, so we cockily blasted our way from bomb defend point to bomb defend point without a casualty. With the difficulty turned up on the next round, though, our gung-ho tactics were nowhere near as effective.
Couple this with the reality that battle chatter becomes overwhelming, confusing and includes multiple speakers (read: yellers) when the shit hits the fan, and one of the most important elements is learning calmness under fire. This would be a whole lot easier if traditional shooter logic applied to attacking or defending points of interest in Rainbow Six Siege.
Y’know, the kind of thing wherein you set up defences around a couple of possible entrances, or the old chestnut where you attack a familiar area and know all the best defending spots ahead of time. Siege borrows from the Red Faction: Guerrilla book of level creation, in that relatively comprehensive destructibility is a major mechanic to traversal and felling foes.
This is far from a gimmick in Rainbow Six Siege. It’s something that promises to keep maps and offensive/defensive tactics fresh for a long time to come. Using a breaching charge to blow open a door or make a hole in the roof are two possible options, but that’s just scratching the surface of the depth of the destructibility mechanic at play in Siege.
We switched to Xbox One for 5v5 versus mode (there were some hiccups with a few PCs) and while the initial rounds involved pretty straightforward FPS offensive/defensive tactics, the latter rounds were incredibly satisfying in terms of their tactical diversity. Level Designer Benoit Deschamps was on hand to guide us through some of this depth. He pointed out that one of the simplest tricks was to punch a hole in a gyprock wall with the butt of your gun to create a handy shooty-hole.
By doing so, players open up new and, more importantly, unexpected lines of sight on attackers or defenders. When defending, players vote on one of a handful of areas in a map to defend. Once selected, the defenders have a short amount of time to establish defences, while the attackers take charge of remote-controlled drones to try sniff out where the defenders are hunkering down.
If the attackers don’t manage to locate the defenders during this initial window, they’re heading in blind. Find them, though, and there’s an opportunity to leave drones in tactical positions that can then be used for surveillance during the attack on the defended position. Defenders can spot and destroy the drones, though, so sneaky hiding spots are the best bet. Fixed cameras also come into play, and can be used by defenders to track attacker movements.
My team was annihilated one round by savvy drone use from the attacking team. Despite the fact that our defences were seemingly fantastic, the attackers used a combination of drone surveillance and remote-activated grenades to destroy walls as we ran past. I was one of those unfortunate players who died in a well-timed explosion.
They also put shields to fantastic use, as shielded players only expose their legs and their shooting arm. Given the way that weapons kick and how centre-mass shots are an incredibly effective way to kill people, a team with well-executed shield tactics is a team to be feared. That being said, Deschamps mentioned that the shield was still being balanced, and future iterations may even break the protective real-world logic and force shield-bearers to expose their heads along with their pistol hand.
During one of our more successful assaults, our team of five separated into two groups, with Deschamps leading an assault through a wall, while me and another player breached the roof and dropped in from above. We timed the assault to perfection, as Deschamps instructed me to breach the roof a couple of seconds after his incursion, so none of the enemies were facing us as we dropped in. It helped that my partner in anti-crime threw in a flashbang just before we offered a lead-fuelled hello to the defenders.
There were other rounds where we were similarly annihilated in an efficient manner, and even one where I managed to take out their entire team as the last defender, prone on my back with assault rifle blasting. When attacking from the bright light of an external environment to the low light of a building, it takes a second for your avatar’s eyes to adjust to the change, meaning that savvy defenders have more than enough time to kill you before you’ve even seen them.
Really, it’s all about the tactical possibilities afforded by the destructibility, clear communication, and the respective tools of the various operatives. Even as someone who much prefers a mouse for aiming over a controller joystick, it didn’t stop the competitive mode from being an incredibly tense and satisfying affair on console. The best news of all, though, for people eager to play Rainbow Six Siege is that the closed beta is set to go live on Friday (that’s tomorrow, y’all), and you can score guaranteed access right here on AusGamers