The Rainbow Six Siege closed alpha is something that only a handful of gamers will be able to participate in, but the excitement surrounding the team-based shooter still has many longtime fans of the franchise excited. I was fortunate enough to go hands-on with the alpha build of the next entry in the beloved FPS series during a recent visit to Ubisoft, and I can safely say that it's on track to appease both longtime fans and newcomers alike.
Kicking things off, gamers will be brought into a menu where they select a character that bestows upon them a handful of unique traits. Longstanding followers of the series will know these gun-toting attackers and defenders as Operators, and they each have a core function that makes them feel very different from one another. In total there are ten characters that can be accessed during the alpha (with a total of 20 set to be appearing in the full game), but each variant is exclusive to one respective side – meaning that each side in the final title will feature a total of 10 gunmen/women apiece.
Each of these aforementioned specialists have unique backgrounds that stem from one of five unique real-world counter-terrorist groups. Originating from GIGN, GSG 9, SAS, Spetznaz or SWAT organizations, each Operator has a very unique look and feel that caters to each individual player's experience. Depending on play styles, gamers will find the character that best suites the way they play and interact with others on their team – making for very engaging and strategic shootouts.
Before getting into these shootouts, however, gamers are going to have to establish a point of entry. That's where drones come in. By sending in these speedy little ground-based cameras, users can establish where the hostage is and score a peek at how the defenders are preparing for the attackers' inevitable breach. Herein lies the starting point of the attacking side's strategy and it requires teammates to work with one another to find out how to best go about saving the hostage or eliminate all five members of the opposing team.
After establishing a point of entry – which will vary greatly depending on whether users are playing on House or the newly announced map Plane – it immediately comes down to the time remaining, how effective either side is at reading the situation and taking one another out. What's more often the case than not is that one side will be completely wiped out, although it's possible for teams to win if the opposing side accidentally murders the hostage or, by some miracle, manages to grab the hostage and get out of the contested environment.
While the entire premise of Rainbow Six Siege is to protect the individual being held by the defending side, it very rarely comes down to that. Instead, effective and timely teamwork is absolutely necessary in order to secure victory. Whether calling out self-made descriptions of in-game locations or utilizing your unique tools to pinpoint enemy players (the Operator known as Pulse is able to detect heartbeats through walls), fans are going to have to work with one another if they want to survive.
Then there's the environments that these players will have to survive in. As has been previously touched upon, each level is built with the sole intention being for it to be destroyed. Thanks to the level of destructibility of a map like House, players are able to freely traverse through the cozy battleground however they see fit. Shooting holes in the wall to establish a sniper's nest, placing C4 on the ground to descend down to another floor, these are just a few of the examples of what players can do when they suit up and jump into multiplayer.
Overall, Rainbow Six Siege's closed alpha will impress the few that are able to get into it. There's a lot of fun to be had in what can only be described as a beautiful and strategic sandbox of destruction. Gamers have been waiting a long time for a new entry in the Rainbow Six series and it appears that the wait has paid off.
Rainbow Six Siege is scheduled to arrive on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2015.