For every moment Siege had me anxiously gripping my controller and strategizing with those in my party, another awaited just around the corner that prompted a feeling of helplessness. Nobody can deny Siege’s laser focus on its intentions, for everything it brings to the table is in direct correlation with its target pillars. There’s a lot at play with Siege, but little goes to overshadow its realism, variety in terms of approach, and pronounced reliance on communication. The caution, forethought, and teamwork Siege confidently instills into its tense 5v5 multiplayer matches–revolving around a SWAT team confrontation with a group of terrorists–is infectious. Each round demands a team come prepared with a plan in hand, as forgoing such demands quickly sabotages the experience. Such blunt and instantaneous repercussions force all of Siege’s best aspects to the edge of a cliff, teetering as gusts of inattentive communication come along. It’s a constant tug-of-war between scenarios that entail a cooperative, conceding group of teammates, and silent, unruly lobbies. Siege gradually weathers as a result, but if landing on the side of the coin that stands for communication and teamwork, there’s a chance for Rainbow Six: Siege to be one of the most compelling team-based experiences to date.
Ubisoft Montreal’s shooter is at its strongest when presenting variety, and there’s plenty of it. Prior to the start of each match, players pick from a roster of operators, which closely resemble the likeness of “Hero” characters. Depending on which operator you choose to take into battle, a unique ability comes packaged with them, lending a useful contribution to the team. For example, the operator I found myself spending a lot of my time with during the beta was Sledge, an attacker with an emphasis on destruction. Equipped with a breaching hammer, Sledge’s intended use aligned perfectly with how I wanted to tackle situations, allowing for me to make my own path through the map via the destructible walls, floors and barricades. Rarely is there time to take a breath within a match, as there’s almost always something to strategize about. Siege is a game about thinking on your feet, and making sure those around you follow suit. It can be overwhelming at times–especially if dealing with stubborn companions–but the payoff, when everything aligns is well worth the bits of frustration. Learning from mistakes is also at the forefront of Siege, as implementing useful and innovative tactics when either attacking or defending could be the difference between winning and losing. I quickly lost count of how many times a round concluded with either a simple tactic that saw it’s intentions come to fruition, or an oversight that left a whole team deceased. Moments like that are what fuel Siege and the tension that guarantees its encounters stay invigorating. The beta comes packed with 14 operators, three maps–with both day and night variations–and three game modes, which include Disarm Bomb, Secure Area, and Terrorist Hunt Classic. Experimenting with different operators is a great way to uncover all the possibilities Siege’s environments and modes have to offer. Discovering all the moving parts behind the curtain while defending and attacking is a joy, and the build up to the short, yet intense firefights gives the game a dynamic feel, few other shooters encompass. Each mode is also impressive, bundling both the intensity of competitive and cooperative play, nicely. Disarm Bomb and Secure Area pit players against each other in frantic 5v5 matches, that test the skill and communication that drives each team. Terrorist Hunt, is an even more cooperative experience, as you and a group of four others beach a stronghold full of Terrorists armed to the teeth. The objective is to eliminate all hostiles without dying, before time runs out. It’s no walk in the park, as communication and team cooperation are just as important here, as they are in PvP. Enemy AI is sophisticated as well, for their competence and efficiency shouldn’t be underestimated when exchanging fire. There’s always an unpredictable element manifesting during each moment of play, and that constant sense of unsureness kept me coming back for more.
Though Siege does show lots of promise with its tactically catered gameplay, it’s far from being considered a trustworthy package. Much like Titanfall and Evolve, Siege forgoes the inclusion of a campaign, gearing its primary focus towards multiplayer. We’ve seen this strategy see conflicting resolution before, and in direct relation to my aforementioned examples, this approach has killed the longevity these titles desperately depend upon. During my time with the beta I couldn’t help but draw the similarities between Titanfall and Evolve, both of which had great pitches–much like Siege–and both of which died at the hands of their player base. Though beyond Siege’s biggest potential weakness, there are still adjustments and minor tweaks that need to be made before launch this December. While most operators feel balanced, there are a few that need reworking before heading back into combat. The shield classes demand the most refinement, as they’re too over-powered and burdensome to eliminate when the opportunity rises. When hiding behind the shield, players are able to fire a pistol from the hip with ridiculous accuracy, giving them the upper hand in almost every confrontation. Siege is almost too perfect for trolls as well, as rounds often began with a bevy of friendly fire that left many dead before the match was even properly underway. This is an issue that absolutely needs sorting out and assigned fitting punishment before launch. Conclusion: Somewhere tucked away in Siege is a great game, but there’s too much it’s dependent upon to stay afloat by itself. If the beta is a solid indication of what will ship this December, Siege can easily be killed by a lack of direct player communication and longterm community dedication. That said, Siege successfully offers something fundamentally different than the current competition, and that uniqueness shouldn’t go unnoticed. When everything comes together, the results are electrifying, for rarely has a shooter encouraged me to plan and execute on the fly as much as Siege did in the time I spent with the closed beta. The last few times a multiplayer-centric shooter has felt this fresh, the end product hasn’t panned out in terms of lasting longevity. Siege is going up against a lot of the same factors those games faced, and in doing so has guaranteed itself an unsure future. These types of games live and die by their player bases, and if it just so happens to drop off, you can bet the fun is going with it.
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