Hands on with Ubisoft’s new tactical shooter leaves a mixed bag of impressions.
Since it was announced at E3 2014, Rainbow Six: Siege has looked like a love child between Valve’s CounterStrike series and classic Rainbow Six tactical gameplay. And, when you’re in a match, that combination feels mostly accurate. The only problem is actually getting there.
Yes, like many games on next-gen, Siege‘s beta had some matchmaking problems that made searching and waiting for matches infuriating. At times, the game could be booted up and would immediately put together teams and throw you right into the action – which is when the game felt perfect. Other times, you’d find yourself waiting for matches for literally dozens of minutes only to get a matchmaking error or to join a match and time out back to the menu. However rampant and frustrating these issues are in Siege‘s beta, I still hold onto a shred of confidence that Ubisoft has what it takes to iron out these issues in time for their recently delayed release date (now launching Dec. 1, 2015).
Putting matchmaking issues aside, the core gameplay that supports Siege is rock-solid and made waiting through horrible searches worthwhile. Each character class and country felts unique from one another, and every gadget at your disposal felt like it could be deadly if paired with the right ally. Mounting assaults on the defending team’s base always felt empowering and downright badass. Climbing to the roof, planting an explosive on a window and then launching through as it erupted never got old. Additionally, being on defense felt like each scenario allowed well-coordinated teams to dominate. Putting small but deliberate holes in the almost entirely destructible environments felt great, and placing a battery on barbed wire to create an electric trap made teamwork feel good even if no one was using microphones.
In matches where allies all used mics, it felt like my team was an unstoppable force. This game allows for unprecedented levels of coordination, and so long as the launch isn’t plagued by matchmaking problems, this game has a chance at becoming the next popular eSport.
Still, there are some tweaks that Ubisoft needs to make to ensure that launch gameplay is tuned just right. In the beta, there were certain instances where I’d spring from cover-to-cover and would actually die after I crossed the threshold because the netcode had some bugs. The issues are made more obvious as the kill-cam actually documents the wholly unfair deaths I, and many other players, suffered from.
At times, I felt like it was all-too-obvious that there have been some significant graphical downgrades since Siege was initially revealed. The version of the beta I played was on the Xbox One, and I felt like the graphics looked somewhat unpolished compared to the gorgeous PC version of the game. Of course, the Xbox One is the weakest next-gen console out right now (not including Wii U as next-gen), so that means the game can only look better on other platforms. That being said, I was honestly a little underwhelmed by what I saw especially because many other first-person shooters on the Xbox still look and perform better than Siege.
In short, Rainbow Six: Siege‘s beta was a good experience bogged down by all-too-common matchmaking bugs and the occasional netcode glitch. If Ubisoft can capitalize on the next two months to make launch stable, I’d have no problem recommending this game to anyone because the actual gameplay is just so satisfying.
Look forward to a review of Rainbow Six: Siege around or shortly after the release of game in early December for my final verdict on the title.
Rainbow Six: Siege launches on Xbox One, PS4 and PC on December 1st, 2015