We've taken an exclusive first look at the new R6, an ambitious adaptation of Siege, which aims to be a turning point in mobile FPS.
Mobile gaming is growing at an incredible pace. That's why it's no longer the exception, but the rule, to see big publishers adapting some of their most beloved franchises to this format. If we add to this the enormous success of Rainbow Six: Siege, which still puts up a fight after seven years on the battlefield, the result is Rainbow Six Mobile, Ubisoft's new smartphone shooter.
The experiment may seem a bit too risky at first sight. R6 isn't a flick shooter mostly focusing on player skill, so it doesn't look like your typical mobile adaptation. It requires coordination, teamwork and strategy. It's a tactical shooter which is meant to become the... ehm, rainbow under which players looking for something a bit more serious on these devices will get shelter.
Adapting something as complex as Siege to such a different platform compared to PC and consoles is no easy task, and that's why during the presentation to which we were invited by Ubisoft we weren't shocked to learn from creative director Justin Swan that the project has been in development for several years already, employing a dev team from different countries. Ubisoft Montreal is the core, but Quebec, Paris, Kiev, Shanghai and five more locations add their part to the job. Their mission, to de-construct and then re-construct the foundations of R6: Siege to then adapt them to touch controls, to mobile playstyle, without losing the essence.
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They want to deliver "the ultimate Siege experience that you can play with anyone, at any time, anywhere", and we don't know yet if they will, but at least we can feel those foundations from the game this is based on. The matches are team-based, with an attacking and a defending squad, and the playable Operators also come from the Rainbow universe, each with their own weapons and their familiar unique abilities, even though they've been tweaked to fit the new format.
The goal is clear: the defending team must protect a bomb at all costs. To that end, it can fortify the area by reinforcing walls or windows, and protect it by laying traps to catch the unsuspecting rivals. On the other hand, the attacking players may start exploring the map by using remotely-controlled drones in order to assess the best approach to dismantle the enemy's bomb and, of course, deactivate it before the time is up.
For now, we don't know about other details such as round duration or the available weapon types, but telling by the brief gameplay presentations there are shotguns, assault rifles and submachine guns, together with rappelling to break through windows and even gadgets such as the deployable shield (Rhino Armour Pack) for defensive Operator Rook. The fact that this Siege character is present, together with Hibana, an attacking character using her X-Kairos weapon to demolish reinforced walls by using explosives, leads us to think that there may be a selection of predetermined Operators, though it's still early to say.
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What we do know is that it's not only characters Rainbow Six Mobile takes from its older brother, as it also faithfully recreates some of its maps, which will be available at launch so that veterans feel at home. And yes, the environments will be destructible, inheriting one of Siege's staples. Therefore, ruined and bullet-pierced walls are going to be one of the variables players will have to keep in mind during matches, even though the limits to that destruction are currently unknown.
It's difficult to think about a tactical shooter you can enjoy on smartphones. The design of the touch-screen device makes controls less physical and accurate, though devs are confident in the work done so that its PC and console roots aren't that obvious. For instance, touch controls now allow for Tactical Focus, which activates upon aiming with ironsights, effectively muting the environment, slowing time down, and auto-aiming at any enemy in sight. These mobile features add to the expected tweaks to movement, map size, etc.
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All this attests to the ambition Ubisoft is using for this game. We've seen very little of Rainbow Six Mobile, but it looks surprisingly good and its offer seems bold. It only needs to prove that ambition won't be a shot in the foot and that there actually is room for tactical shooters on mobile. Soon enough, players will be able to check it out first-hand globally when pre-register opens.