It seems as if every first-person shooter on the market today is more about twitch reflexes than actual strategy. Not that fast-paced shooters are bad, it's just that there's nothing else out there — it's almost like developers are scared that gamers aren't going to want a game that actually requires them to plan out their attacks.
Then, there's Rainbow Six Siege. Ubisoft's tactical first-person shooter deviates from just about every modern-day shooter trope imaginable: the pace is slow, it only takes a single shot to take someone down and players are actually forced to work together. For gamers weaned on Call of Duty and Halo, it may sound like a serious downgrade — but, once you pick up the controller and start playing, it's easy to see what Ubisoft is going for.
With the Rainbow Six Siege Closed Beta finally launching, fans are finally getting a chance to see what the game is all about. True, Rainbow Six Siege is still a work-in-progress, and Ubisoft definitely has some wrinkles to iron out — but, for the most part, Rainbow Six Siege will be perfect for anyone who's tired of the same old shooter fare.
First things first: before you hop into a match, you'll need to choose your Operator. These characters can't really be called classes — most of their equipment and weaponry can be swapped out with a few alternatives — but you'll want to choose your Operator based on playstyle. If you like heading the charge, you'll probably want someone with a shield; if you want to try and take out the other team's tech from a distance, you'll want someone with a electronics jammer.
At first, it may seem like weapons fall into one of three categories: assault rifle, shotgun or pistol. In reality, the system is much deeper than that: accuracy and range are extremely important, even at Rainbow Six Siege's comparatively short range. Ideally, you'll want to play around and experiment with different Operators and loadouts — with so many different options on-hand, you'd be hard-pressed to find a particular playstyle that isn't represented.
When playing one of Rainbow Six Siege's core multiplayer modes, gameplay is split into two basic phases: the Preparation Phase and the Action Phase. They're about as self-explanatory as you can get: the first minute or so of the game is spent laying down traps and looking for enemy players, while the rest of the match is spent trying to wipe out the other team or complete a mode-specific objective.
It's a far cry from the relatively one-note pacing of other online shooters: the Preparation Phase is all about trying to coordinate with teammates and creating the best possible defense or offense. It's a different kind of cooperation, as players try their best to complement others, no matter the situation. It's most apparent while playing on the defensive side: everyone is trying to cover the objective as best they can, and impromptu teams pop up organically. Spending a minute fortifying an objective may sound boring, but Ubisoft made sure that players would want to use every second in the Preparation Phase to their advantage.
Of course, things really kick off during the Action Phase: if you've ever seen gameplay of Rainbow Six Siege, this is like what you've seen. Attackers will try to infiltrate the enemy base, secure the objectives and neutralize their opponents. Defenders will try and do everything they can to prevent their team and the objectives from getting wiped off the map — and though it may sound like the game would just devolve into a standard shootout, that's rarely what actually happens.
For the attacking team, infiltrating is about as tense as it gets: unless you or a teammate are carrying the proper gear into battle, there's no way of knowing exactly where enemy players are. If you located the objective during the Preparation Phase, you may have an idea of where to look — but, for the most part, it's all about finding the other team before they find you.
For the defending team, the first minute of the Action Phase is basically the calm before the storm: most players will typically settle in around the objective and wait. It's far safer than going out and looking for the attacking team, but it creates a sense of dread unlike anything else in shooters. You can hear the attacking team punching through your defenses, and it's only a matter of time before they get to you — again, it's about finding them before they find you.
Inevitably, that sense of dread explodes into chaos once the two teams converge: walls explode into a million little pieces, teammates start shouting out positions and suddenly, every single move you make could mean the difference between life and death. Rainbow Six Siege is an extremely lethal game — players can be taken out with a single well-placed shot — and trying to figure out what's going on through all the smoke and debris, with that knowledge, is an experience unique to Rainbow Six Siege.
Then again, that may never happen — a well-coordinated team can wipe out the opposing force in seconds. What's amazing is that Rainbow Six Siege is almost always fun no matter how it plays out — save for the matches hindered by network issues, Rainbow Six Siege is one of those few games where losing a match can actually be fun.
There are some kinks in the design, however: both of the multiplayer modes available in the beta (Secure the Area and Bomb Disposal) are largely the same. Teams are either supposed to attack or defend the objectives — however, with only one life per player, 90 percent of matches will end with one team wiping out the other. That's not to say that a good team won't win by completing or defending the objectives, it's just not how most matches play out.
In addition, while it's to be expected from an early beta test like this, Rainbow Six Siege's connection troubles must be addressed. While playing on the PlayStation 4, players have about a 30 percent chance of making it into a full game, even with optimal Internet settings ... and that doesn't even take crashing or lagging out into the equation. Again, this is the sort of thing beta tests are for — but if Rainbow Six Siege has these sort of problems at launch, it would cripple the game.
Despite its few shortcomings, Rainbow Six Siege is an immensely fun game to play. Its slower pace and heavy reliance on teamwork may turn the twitch-happy lone wolves off, but for anyone who wants to play a shooter that feels genuinely different, Rainbow Six Siege should do nicely. Sure, it has its frustrating moments — getting shot by a near-invisible enemy or randomly disconnecting from a match is never fun — but everything else about the game does more than enough to make up for a few annoying moments.
The game's closed beta will last from Sept. 24 through Sept. 28. For anyone who didn't make the cut, the full version of Rainbow Six Siege is set to launch on Dec. 1.