William Wendell Evans, or Willi for fun, enjoys two things in life: Video Games, Metal Music, and Writing. He's an English major, so math isn't his strong suit.
First off, I need to give a disclaimer that everything I say in this article comes from my time playing around in the Rainbow Six: Siege beta. Lots of things are bound to change in the two months before release, including the addition of more Operators and maps, so take this with a grain of salt. That said, I’m in love.
From what I’ve experienced, this is the most fun I’ve had with a shooter since the original Gears of War. Rainbow Six: Siege is a multiplayer-only terrorists-versus-counter-terrorists game that pits two teams of five against each other in heated matches of Attack and Defend style game modes. The two available in the beta are “TDM – Bomb” and “TDM – Secure Area.”
“TDM – Bomb” is a classic bomb defusal game mode: there are two bombs placed (in player-chosen areas) that the attacking team must assault and either defuse one of the bombs, or eliminate the defending team to win. Vice-versa, the defenders can either eliminate the attackers or defend the bombs until time runs out after four minutes from the round’s start.
“TDM – Secure Area” plays out in a similar vein, albeit with only one objective that, instead of needing defusing, acts more like a capture point (similar to control points in Battlefield’s Conquest mode).
The pace of these games is fast and pulse-pounding. Rounds are separated into three phases: Strategizing, Recon/Base Defense, and Assault (as I’ve dubbed them).
Phase I: Strategizing
During the Strategizing Phase, each team gets 45 seconds to chose their Operator, a specific soldier with his own unique aesthetic, weapon selections, and unique gadgets (more on that later), and a spawn point. The defenders get to choose where they want the objectives to be placed by choosing from a list of 3-5 different locations while the attackers choose an infiltration point outside of the main building.
Each choice is confirmed with a team-wide vote, requiring input from each team member and (majority) agreement throughout the whole team. This feature should incentivize teams to strategize together before each match, choosing what their plan of attack or defense is, but most of it time it just turns into everyone falling into the “easiest” place to defend and closest spawn point to the building.
Phase II: Recon/Base Defense
After the teams have picked their Operators and respective spawn points, the match begins. The attackers initially spawn as small drones for the Recon/Base Defense Phase. They have 45 seconds to send these drones into the building and see what the defenders are up to.
This recon can be insanely valuable to how the match plays out, revealing objectives to plan their full infiltration accordingly, as well as seeing where the defenders are setting up choke points, what entrances are barricaded (yep, you can do that), and what they’re up against. If the drones don’t get shot by attentive defenders, they can be placed in strategic locations as a stationary viewpoint that can be switched to and provide remote surveillance during the match.
While the attackers are scoping out the defenses, the defenders use these 45 seconds to barricade themselves around the objectives. Each defender has an unlimited amount of wooden door and window barricades they can place on any respective threshold in the map to hinder the advance of the attackers. Each defender also comes with two reinforced metal barricades that can be placed on walls or various murder-holes (i.e. breach points in the ceilings and floors). The reinforced barricades prevent the attackers from blowing holes in them with standard breaching charges, effectively cutting off their entry point there.
Standard defender loadouts also come with a choice of either a deployable metal shield or barbed wire. The barbed wire slows enemy movement through certain areas, and the shields are indestructible portable cover that can be used to create extra, safe-ish, firing points for them, and depending on the location, attackers can make use of them if the Operator is killed or moves out of position.
Phase III: Assault
After the defenders have holed themselves up and the attackers have finished their recon, the game begins in full. The attackers sprint toward the building and the defenders grip their weapons a little tighter.
The attackers choose their breach points and the beginning of combat is usually signaled by the large–and usually multiple–explosions of breaching charges splintering the wooden barricades, and storming through the rubble and smoke. The weapons feel responsive and refined, and the combat is frantic and chaotic. Controlled explosions consume the battlefield from more breaches/grenades from the attackers, or c4/nitro cells, smothering it in smoke and splintered wood from the destructible environment.
Coming under fire from the enemy is an intense experience, because unlike other games, it can take as little as one well placed shot to take you down. If you can survive a burst from a weapon, getting into cover takes priority, either diving into a side room or behind some form of desk or counter. Since an active cover system (a la Gears of War, or Rainbow Six: Vegas and its sequel) isn’t present, the classic “lean” feature makes a glorious return.
Being able to pop out of cover from a point you choose, with a lessened target on your body, can turn the tide of a fight. It can either allow you to get the jump on an unsuspecting enemy by slowly creeping around the corner, or to at least let you make a distraction while a teammate flanks a fortified enemy. Be careful of where you choose to take cover though as bullet penetration is alive and well in this game–at least in destructible surfaces such as plywood or drywall (basically anything that a breaching charge can break through).
The action should never slow down once it starts, being as the round timer is four minutes, and that dwindles down faster than one would think. The close-quarters of the buildings and the briefness of rounds topped with only one life per round can lead to some truly intense situations that will leave your heart pounding accompanied by either an overwhelming sense of elation at victory, or a soul crushing sense of defeat…
While the combat is fun and engaging, my personal favorite part is the amount of strategic potential the game has. Each map has an insane amount of entry points, in some cases it seems like too many, and the Operators each have their own unique abilities that counter the opposing team’s abilities, and can provide new ways for battles to play out.