Terrorists are the new go-to enemy of the modern FPS. Not only is it relevant to the times we live in, it also gives us a break from all of those WWII games that keep beating a dead horse – Wolfenstein, I’m looking at you!- or zombies – this time I’m looking at everyone else- or even both – CoD, this is all on you-.

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms: Windows (tested), PS4, Xbox One

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege

Since comparisons to it will be inevitable, I’m gonna start with it: this is no Counter Strike. Usually CS games pit two teams of people and let them shoot each other to complete the objectives, where rounds are mostly decided by aim and reflexes and using knowledge of the map. Just look at all the videos teaching how to bounce smoke and flashbang grenades! The team that usually wins is the one with the best aim and the best use of those exploits.

Rainbow Six Siege puts you in different position. This is the series that pioneered the strategic shooter, after all. No matter how good a shot you are, you can’t expect to win by just camping a position; and acing the entire enemy is entirely out of the question.

Training

This game’s single player is an extended tutorial session designed to hone your skills before dropping you to the multiplayer. Each mission or “situation” shows you one aspect of the game and the Operators. The Operators are the key element to the strategy here, as they can use special items to complete the objectives.

These solo missions are surprisingly hard. There is no easy difficulty here, only normal. You will be using your head more than your reflexes, because taking on a fortified position guns blazing, Leeroy Jenkins style, is suicide. The hardest difficulty, realistic, will usually kill you with one shot.

You will learn to rappel, to blow up barricades, to use drones to identify enemy positions and more. Each situation will also teach you the basics of bomb defusal, hostage rescue and more.

This isn’t a story mode though, not even a campaign, which is a wasted opportunity because the intro videos are very cool and they missed the chance to create a more interesting plot than “terrorists threaten the world, Avengers Operators assemble”.

The best of the best

The premise of the game is that Team Rainbow is an elite group formed by the greatest operatives in special ops in the world. Spetsnaz, SWAT, SAS, FBI, and more. You can be a generic recruit and select a customized loadout though you will be missing on the more specialized equipment.

Wanna surprise the enemy? Destroy the floor with a giant sledgehammer and drop on them from above. Or blow up walls all around them. What about leaving razor wire all over the floor? No, that’s not enough. Electrified razor wire on the other hand…

Each Operator is a specialist on attack or defense and you need to coordinate with your team to pull off a successful attack or defense. The heavily armored Operators should draw attention (read: enemy fire) to themselves, while Operators carrying shield can provide cover for their teammates. An attacker can blow up some exterior barricades to allow a sniper buddy to clear the room from a safe distance. A defender can use a heartbeat monitor to detect an approaching enemy, calling out their locations so their teammates can ambush them and lay traps in their paths.

Every Operator has something unique to add to the game. Except for the Doc, since most attacks leave teammates dead rather than wounded he is a bit useless.

The multiplayer

Once you’re done with single player you can use the renown, the in-game currency, to acquire operators and extra equipment. The system is set in such a way that once you unlock an operator from a group, say GIGN, the next operator from that same group will cost more to unlock, so you’ll have to diversify your rooster of classes as you learn the game. Also you must level up to unlock new features, such as the ranked multiplayer.

For new players, the recommended mode is Terrorist Hunt, a PvE co-op where you have to complete missions against waves of AI enemies. It’s the best way to familiarize yourself with both cooperation with other players and how the Operators can complement their skills to finish an objective.

Next comes the actual multiplayer. There is a preparation phase, when the attackers use remote drones to locate the enemies and their objective. The defenders have to lay traps, defensive positions and barricades while also being alert to the drones and destroy them to prevent their enemy gaining vital intelligence. Then the proper round begins and after a tense battle, defenders and attackers switch sides for the next round.

Bring your friends

Like I said, strategy and coordination are paramount to victory in this game. And so far, my experience was very positive, the community is surprisingly nice. Most players have microphones and discuss what to do in the preparation stages.

But the best results are found when you play with people you know, so bring your friends! The fact that you can go solo on Terrorist Hunt doesn’t mean that you should.

Graphics, sound and more

Graphically this game is not too impressive with on exception: the destruction. Almost every single thing can be blown to bits, and some Operators can break most of the rest. There is a great deal of satisfaction in detecting an enemy on the other side of a wall and then killing them through it. Not many games have that level of realism. The blood spatters are also quite good, the rest of the graphics are on par with modern shooters.

Sound wise, the game has no music during a round. You can only hear footsteps, firearms and gadgets. A good headset can be a gamechanger, because some operatives make very distinct sounds due to their equipment and being able to detect incoming enemies through sound will make a defender’s live much more easier.

The level design is excellent on multiplayer maps, but somewhat lacking in Terrorist Hunt. Ubisoft somewhat mitigates it by spawning more enemies as you complete your objectives, although that can be seen as a lazy fix. There’s also a rushing kamikaze enemy type that feels out of place in this game.

Bugs and microtransactions

The only bug I consistently ran into this game is a constant connectivity problem. I got dropped out of many matches and in almost every match I had at least 200 ping, with spikes in the thousands. I hadn’t experienced such inconsistent connection since the disastrous launch of Red Orchestra 2.

There is currently no way to choose to which regions you want to connect to or to limit the max ping in the matchmaking settings, only adding to the problem. Also the VoIP is based on peer-to-peer, which can drag some players down. They are working on this though, so probably today or very soon they will fix most of the net issues.

I mentioned before that you have to play the game to earn the points necessary to get new Operators. Well, you can simply buy an XP boost to level up faster and unlock them in no time. While I don’t see a problem with microtransactions for cosmetic items, I disagree completely with this.

While it doesn’t mean that new players can simply buy an advantage- I unlocked a lot of operators in a few days just by playing the game- it does mean that because there is a limit of one Operator per teammate, an experienced player may be locked out of a good role because a newbie occupied the slot. It doesn’t have an impact in the game besides of that, so it’s a minor complaint.

Verdict

So, should you buy this game? Yes. Absolutely. If you love multiplayer FPS games and are tired of the run and shoot formula, this is the game for you. Every match is unique, due to the combination of Operators and the tons of tactical choices you can make. Even better, Ubisoft announced that over the next year the game will be supported, FREE, with new modes, maps, Operators and weapon skins.

What are you waiting for? The world needs you.

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