The last few years have not been kind to fans of the Rainbow Six series, despite the many years the franchise spent at the top of the heap of modern military shooters. Ubisoft sent the message that they had big plans for a new title when they unveiled target gameplay footage of Rainbow Six: Patriots — a game that was later suspended when the direction of the game ran into issues. But at E3 2014, the developers at Ubisoft Montreal showed a brand new direction for the series, with the small-scale Rainbow Six Siege.
It will likely never be made clear why Patriots was deemed an unwise direction, but a look at the other major shooters on display at E3 show that the world certainly doesn’t need another military shooter intent on saving the world from the brink of collapse. What Rainbow Six Siege offers instead is a classic structure for team-based tactics with clear influence and features seen in several modern online shooters.
The gameplay video (visible above) featured two teams of five players — one a group of hostage-takers, the other SWAT officers — holding a single hostage, and reinforcing a home against the lawmen preparing to infiltrate it. The developers offer no further explanation of specific weapons, booby traps or secondary abilities, but the footage speaks for itself. The criminals may work to reinforce, barricade, or defend whatever aspects of the home they wish, doing whatever it takes to keep the opposing side from freeing the hostage (in this case, an emotionally distraught woman).
Those playing as the police have some tricks of their own, with the ability to rappel down from the roof, plant explosive breach charges, deploy drones to scope out enemy defenses unseen, and much, much more. What makes these both offensive and defensive tools so groundbreaking isn’t their ability to kill, but their ability to destroy and reshape the environment itself.
According to creative director Xavier Marquis, the smaller scale, and stripped-down tactical shooter allowed the developers to identify exactly what elements they felt helped create a worthy entry in the Rainbow Six franchise:
“As fans of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six and tactical shooters in general, we set out to create the game we always wanted to play within the counter-terrorism universe. We asked ourselves ‘how could we capture the incredible tension and unique tactics of these confrontations?’ We found the answer in the Siege gameplay and procedural destruction… “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is the game that Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six fans have been waiting for, and first-person shooter players will be drawn to its unique gameplay.”
Although a battle arena the size of a single house may seem like too small an area in which to truly exercise complex strategies, but the destructibility made possible by Ubisoft Montreal’s Realblast engine turns even the simplest layouts into virtual beehives of bullets and backstabbing. Whether it’s shooting out covered windows to allow a sniper a clear shot, or blowing through a wall or floor to ambush your opponents, the entire match ends up far more varied than expected.
With a strong Counter-Strike vibe to go along with the return to Rainbow Six’s roots, it’s obvious Ubisoft felt that gamers would be more interested in a simple yet deep shooter, relying heavily (if not completely) on teamwork. Large scale battles aren’t going anywhere (just watch the E3 trailer for proof) so perhaps the rest of what Ubisoft has to show will be just as tantalizing.
What did you make of the gameplay video? Does this seem like an approachable enough shooter for you to tackle with friends, or would you have preferred to see the initial pitch for the next Rainbow Six completed? Share your thoughts in the comments, and be sure to check out the rest of our E3 2014 coverage.
Rainbow Six Siege will release in 2015 for the PC, PS4, Xbox One.
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