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Rainbow Six: Siege

Frontline - Rainbow Six: Siege

A thriving esports scene, a steady stream of content, and a commitment to longevity - could this be a winning formula for Ubisoft?

  • Text: Sam Bishop
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In 1996 author Tom Clancy, famous for his military novels such as The Hunt for Red October, set up Red Storm Entertainment to move into the world of video games, with the original plan being to develop a game revolving around special operations on an international scale, such as rescuing hostages and defusing bombs. It just so happened that at the time Clancy was writing a book called Rainbow Six, and from there the series of the same name was born, following an elite group of operatives working to take down international terrorist groups, often discovering dark secrets along the way.

When Rainbow Six was released for the PC in 1998, it was advertised as "a combination of explosive action and real life strategy," and part of its appeal was that it wasn't like other shooters. Instead of blasting through hordes of enemies, this was far more tactical, with bullets killing enemies in a few hits, an emphasis on planning, and the use of a team rather than simply being a lone wolf. This started a successful series of Rainbow Six titles that would prove to be popular in future generations too, spawning a number of games and expansion packs for a variety of consoles.

Throughout the series there have been many changes in terms of gameplay. Rainbow Six: Lockdown, for instance, had you participate in sniping missions, a bit like a shooting gallery, and also included rather linear levels. Later we saw a major change with Rainbow Six: Vegas. Vegas 1 and 2 used third-person perspectives in times such as rappelling and in cover, as well as regenerating health and tougher AI, all of these new features signalling a change of pace for the series.

In 2011, Ubisoft announced Rainbow Six: Patriots, which would involve Team Rainbow going into New York City to deal with a terrorist group called the True Patriots, the first new entry into the series since Rainbow Six made their way to Las Vegas. In 2014, however, the project was cancelled, along with the concept, and in its place came a new game - Siege.

This latest release in the series arrived in late 2015, which was the first since Tom Clancy's passing in 2013, and this also saw a couple of big changes to the series, the biggest of which was the absence of a single-player campaign. Like Star Wars Battlefront in the same year, Ubisoft had decided to take out the campaign to focus the game more around multiplayer, a bold move considering the heritage of the series. What this meant, though, is that the whole game was crafted with this aspect in mind, and it was deeper than any multiplayer Rainbow Six experience before it as a result.

Rainbow Six: Siege
Siege was launched at the end of 2015, and received more content through 2016.

Ubisoft were clearly keen on getting it right on release, even delaying it from October to December of 2015 to try and adjust, improve, and utilise feedback from testing. When the game did eventually come out on December 1, there were 11 maps, but from the start Ubisoft made it clear that they were committed to the longevity of the game, as additional maps and weapons were always planned as free DLC for players. Microtransactions were also included to speed the accumulation of points for items, but Ubisoft insists this doesn't give an advantage in gameplay.

A season pass was also announced for the game, including exclusive skins, cosmetic bonuses, and early access to DLC packages, however, the important thing to note is that the paid-for content is purely cosmetic, and doesn't affect gameplay, so there's no in-game advantage to those who shell out more cash.

The first year's free maps have already been released in their entirety, the first, Operation Black Ice, being released in February last year, followed by Operation Dust Line, Operation Skull Rain, and Operation Red Crow, released in November. That's not all, though, as Ubisoft has confirmed that a second season's worth of content is coming, with four new maps planned, set in Spain, South Korea, Poland, and Hong Kong respectively, with the second season also bringing additional content aside from maps as well, the same early access being given to season pass holders.

Highlights of the first year's maps include Black Ice's Yacht, which sees you take on a yacht embedded in ice, with a labyrinth of tight corridors and hallways to explore and fortify inside. Another highlight is Favela, included in Operation Skull Rain, which includes back streets of vivid favelas in Brazil, with bright colours and plenty of hiding spaces available.

Rainbow Six: Siege
Rainbow Six: Siege
Photo: Ubisoft
Rainbow Six: Siege
Photo: Ubisoft