PS4 version tested.
I find myself being hailed by a fellow human’s voice, addressing me by my gamertag:
“Hey, I hope you have a mic mate!”
It just so happens that I do, and I tell him so and this brings in cheers from two other players.
We are just about to embark on a hostage mission as the aggressors – charged with discovering the location of a captive, and facing two options for success. Rescue of the hostage from the armed-to-the-teeth opposition, or wiping out the kidnappers entirely, either of these will result in a successful round. What I don’t know at this precise moment is that our party will grow by several more in a few more plays and that in turn, we will become brothers in arms for a long time to come.
This is the true draw and power of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 Siege. A fantastic looking game with incredible directional sound effects and a tense sense of urgency. It offers a potent rejection of the solo, glory-hunter fixated shooters such as the Call of Duty franchise and in its place, the amalgamation of the ‘we’; serving the interests of the team. And yes, you really should use a mic in this game, silence is often the prelude to lack of immersion – and inevitably – death.
Some will be disappointed that this is an online only affair and doesn’t contain a solo or campaign mode which goes beyond tutorial tasks. That said, if it is something which COD and Battlefield have taught us, is that a solo game will always be quite a shallow affair when the main game has been designed from the ground-up for online play.
One of the first ways in which you can start making a valued contribution to your team are the combat boots of the operator you decide to step into – which will bring a unique skill set to your five-man-strong mini army. The refreshing aspect comes in the significance of this choice. Unlike other team based titles, whoever you choose here will either greatly help or hinder your team depending on who your team mates select to pay as, all of these choices will in their own turn be affected by the shared objective at hand, whether this is diffusing bombs, rescuing a hostage as above or dominating a certain location on one of the 10 maps currently available at time of writing this review.
At a time in gaming when too often the options presented to players are largely cosmetic and character customisation toolkits allow for gamers to effectively beige the stats of a combatant’s role to be the same as say a heavy weapons expert or medic or both – having varied specific character choices which affect the balance and either compliment or negate the potency of your teams ability to win is awesome. In other words having your choices from selecting your operator to how you co-ordinate with your team members matter and mean something, further immerses you in the mechanics of Siege. It is not a perceived difference but rather an real one.
Asides from killing the opposition there are other tasks which will keep your team busy regardless of which side they are playing. Attackers command small wireless controlled drones complete with cameras and enemy markers to find their objective, defenders reinforce walls, lay traps and set up barricades – all of this within the first 30 seconds or so of the match starting.
Certain walls, ceiling hatches and even reinforced structures can be destroyed by shooting or using specialised explosives which adds a much needed tactical-wildcard to how any match may evolve. Try as you might to follow a set plan – the beauty is the game and results of players actions always preserves an element of the unknown.
There is little doubt that through the course of play you will end up having your preferred Operators (playable characters) as I did, but the needs of your team will often dictate that you adopt a player with a unique skill-set whom will, besides taking you out of your comfort zone, brings something useful to the table, improving the odds that your team succeeds as a unit.
A drawback to this early on, is that you have to work to unlock characters, earning in game currency from playing the solo practice missions and from entering online matched game events. There are a limited number of operators, 20 in total. These are divided equally into attackers and defenders. You’ll need a healthy choice of both, especially if your teammates select all of the operators whom you have unlocked so far. If this happens, it will mean you’ll have to play the match as a recruit – limited in weapon types/upgrades and waiving any noteworthy special abilities – putting you at a disadvantage as a whole – as well as robbing you of completing character specific goals which can provide a welcome boost to the in-game currency (used to unlock characters and personalise weapon load-outs) and denying you the opportunity to accrue experience points to increase your rank/stats.
At present, my only gripe with the game are the issues with connecting to the server, particularly when trying to join a game with friends to form a squad. Too often (and this comes after the release of the latest patch following the game’s launch) the game will disconnect for no reason – ejecting you out of the game – you cannot rejoin once a match has started, thereby testing the loyalty (and patience) of your online amigos – do they all leave the game they have waited so long to play to reunite with you and try again (with no guarantees that the same thing will not happen to you or them in the next match) or do you take a hit for the team by waiting for them to finish as a four man squad instead of a five?
The issues with connectivity would be an absolute game breaker if this game were not so enthralling to play. Even when you die, you may still be able to assist your team-mates after death by taking control of cctv cameras or partially deactivated drones to mark or warn your teammates of the enemy’s location.
It really does seem like Ubisoft are serving-up digital crack when the game, even in it’s frequent broken form – makes you ache for another go. It is just such a complete shame that at its worst, the title can offer the disturbing waiting to play vs. playing the game ratio of 30 minutes – 5 respectively.
So right now I am forced to award this entry a 7. Many would argue given the flaws that such an award should be significantly lower and ordinarily I would agree with them specially given the online only nature of the game, however especially for console gamers – TCR6 Siege offers something unique enough to be excited about both in terms of genre and execution (when it works).
I choose to believe that Ubisoft will not leave this game in the broken fragments that it exists at present and with a stable connection and matchmaking feature I would whole heartily award it a 9. Expect an amended review once this transpires.
UPDATE: Patch 1.2 is due to address the issues above on XBone and PS4 this coming Thursday 14th January. PC version has already received the update – so fingers crossed it works and I will return with the outcome for issues it sets out to correct following, stay tuned.
*UPDATE* patch 1.2 & 1.3 The latest update patches were released for EU territories 13th & 21st January. They have greatly improved matchmaking and have helped to reduce the drop-out connections mentioned above. They still require some further work especially in ranked gameplay (one of two variants of online gameplay difficulty) as the ranked play punishes players who leave a match, forfeiting the right to play again straight away. While it is there to prevent people sabotaging their teams chances of play by leaving mid-game – the greatest cause of player departure mid-game derives from the drop in connection to the title’s servers. Put simply, it’s generally not the fault of the player. This is extremely frustrating when an organised game of players in a squad suffer losing a teammate to technical errors – if they back out in ranked play to rejoin their amigo who disconnected, the whole team is punished and not ‘allowed’ to play a ranked match for sometime.
*UPDATE* The latest update appears to further improve matchmaking and online activity – It finally feels like the game it should have been – although sometimes there is more lag – sudden disconnection seems to have been quite dramatically reduced.
As a result of the update and the fact that the main areas of concern have been patched I can happily award TCR6 Siege a score of 8.5/10. To push this to a 9 or higher will depend on the updates, extra maps and DLC and how Ubisoft provide this to players, as the game is steeply priced for a largely online only affair – certain forthcoming extras made gratis would certainly demonstrate a serious investment and reassuring level of commitment to ensure the title remains in the upper echelon of the strategy team shooter.