Even though Destiny: The Taken King fever has run amok throughout the Short Pause offices, I still managed to hop into the Rainbow Six: Siege beta for a few hours this past week. I was a huge fan of the Rainbow Six: Vegas series, as everything from their exciting campaigns, to their intense terrorist hunt modes and sweaty-palm-inducing multiplayer suites, always left me coming back for more. Rainbow Six has always done a great job providing a much more tactical, team-work focused experience for fans of shooters than Call of Duty or Battlefield generally do. It’s no secret that I’m an overly obsessive SOCOM fan, and Rainbow Six: Vegas 1 & 2 captured that style of play last gen better than SOCOM Confrontation or SOCOM 4 ever did. I jumped into the Rainbow Six: Siege beta with high expectations and, while the potential for a stellar title is here, I wouldn’t mind if Ubisoft bit the bullet and delayed this title again, taking their time to iron out all of the game’s issues and deliver a finely polished product on day one. Here are some of the things I liked and disliked about the beta.
THINGS I LIKED:
I can appreciate what Ubisoft is going for here with Rainbow Six Siege; they’re trying to make a tactical shooter that focuses on close-quarters combat, teamwork, and objective-based game modes. Because this style of game isn’t as accessible as Call of Duty, or other titles of its ilk, it’s best to play Siege with friends who prefer this style of game and who use microphones to communicate and coordinate their actions. Though there will be a variety of game types with various objectives when the finished product launches, they’re all tailored around the “Attackers” and “Defenders” set up. These remind me of the Breach and Extraction modes from SOCOM 2, and that’s a good thing because I LOVED playing as the Seals (attackers). You were always at a disadvantage as a Seal, and it made victory that much sweeter because the deck was stacked against you. In Rainbow Six: Siege, the attackers have the luxury of multiple access points that can be breached silently or with explosives. There’s also the fact that each side has 10 different class types, all of which feature special perks that help level the playing field. While some were complaining that only one class type can be chosen per squad, I feel this a smart move because it prevents every attacker from choosing the Fuze and their overpowered shield (more on that later).
If you’re not in the mood for PVP multiplayer, you can always jump into a game of Terrorist Hunt with a group of friends, via matchmaking, or as a Lone Wolf for the ultimate test. Terrorist Hunt was an exciting mode in Vegas, but it had its faults. My biggest beef with that mode last gen was the spawn system of the terrorists themselves. It was really annoying when you and your friends would make your way through an area, clearing it out efficiently, only to have a few guys spawn in the very same room behind you. It took away from the rewarding feeling of properly clearing out a room, and it amounted to many cheap deaths. Thankfully, I didn’t experience any such issues during the Siege beta. One strange performance issue I noticed about Terrorist Hunt was that it didn’t appear to be running at the same silky frame rate as the PVP portion. I don’t know if this mode isn’t fully optimized yet, or if concessions need to be made since there are a total of 30 terrorists hiding throughout each map, but the difference in performance between this and the standard PVP modes was noticeable. Whether or not this will be addressed before the game’s launch remains to be seen.
REAL WORLD TACTICS AND CONSEQUENCES
I absolutely love it when a developer does away with health regeneration and respawn. Those are “popular” features that have found their way into most first-person shooters these days, but I personally feel it eliminates the necessity to play smart, in addition to lowering the overall tension of each match. If I’m killed being careless, it hurts my team even more, and no one wants to feel bad for being stupid! It forces you to play smarter, check your corners, and always make sure you’re on your teammate’s six. That’s the type of gameplay I dig; working as a team to complete an objective. Weapons in the beta seemed decently balanced, though I didn’t get to try them all out. I never felt like people using any specific type of weapon had any sort of an advantage (I promise, I’m going to get to the shields!). It didn’t really matter which weapons people were using; if 2 or 3 rounds hit you, you were in grave danger of being incapacitated (unless it was headshot, which then it was “Game Over”). You can be revived, but you’ll return with very little health, and the next time you’re downed, you’re done until the next round. All of this leads to some very intense moments that will have you on the edge of your seat as time counts down.
THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE:
I won’t spend too much time with this one because it’s no secret that the visuals in the Rainbow Six: Siege beta have been a major talking point among everyone involved. In short, it’s just not a very pretty game, not by next gen standards anyways. Tom Clancy games pride themselves on gritty realism, and that depiction is missing here. The map designs are excellent, but the overall looks of the interior areas are rather bland. Don’t get me started on the surrounding exterior environments; they’re straight out of the PS3/Xbox 360 era. Character animations here are janky and inconsistent. In fact, they’re almost cartoony at times. If concessions had to be made to the visuals in order to achieve a higher frame rate, that’s one thing, but in its current state, Rainbow Six: Siege doesn’t appear to be a very demanding game in terms of its visual fidelity.
Holy smokes, this game has a TON of bugs and network issues that need to be ironed out before its launch in less than two months. Everything from freezing and crashing to the XMB, to a plethora of in-game glitches hampered my experience. I had instances where my character would spawn at the beginning of the match, only to find out I couldn’t move for the rest of the entire round. I had another instance where my gun would reload, but it wouldn’t fire, leaving me high and dry in the middle of a firefight. I’m not saying everyone experienced these issues during the beta, but since I’m not writing about everyone else’s experience, I have no choice but to report this game as a buggy mess. The plus side? It didn’t stop me from constantly rebooting the game so I could play because, when it was working, everything I listed in the “Things I Liked” section above kept me dialed into the game. The potential for a great experience is here. There are just too many bugs right now and I’m skeptical that these will be all addressed by the time the full retail version launches with all of the added maps, modes, and classes unlocked.
CONTROLS AND HIT DETECTION
If there’s one area that any shooter needs to nail in order to be a hit among fans, it’s the controls. It’s strange to call out controls and hit detection in a Rainbow Six game, as all of the previous franchise entries were spot on in these areas. The controls here felt a little too loose, even after tweaking the sensitivity levels the best I could. I felt like I was playing Payday 2 as opposed to the likes of Destiny, Call of Duty, or previous Rainbow Six games. In a tactical shooter where every shot counts in heated firefight, not having tight, accurate controls can be a little frustrating. I’m not saying this game needs auto-aiming, because I’m not a fan of that either, but it all just felt a little too loose in my opinion. Hit detection also seemed spotty at best. There were instances where I could see my sights weren’t even on the enemy I was firing at and I was still registering hits. Of course, there were other times where my red dot was on a guy, and even though I fired in bursts to compensate for recoil, it still didn’t count as a hit. Overall, the weapons and such look and sound good, but the handling and hit detection still need some work.
First off, I’m a believer that the shield class is essential to the game’s overall premise, and it’s a necessity to help give the attackers a chance in each match. That being said, the Shield class either needs to be adjusted somewhat, or hopefully there is a defender class that wasn’t a part of the beta that will offer more of a counterbalance to it. With the exception of a perfectly timed IED blast or flanking your way around the shield, there is literally no way you’ll survive if you come across this character with little to no cover around. That is unless you have time to line up a precision shot on their feet through the narrowest of seams between the bottom of the shield and the floor, which isn't easy considering they can fire rapidly in your direction. I wouldn’t mind if they removed the ability to fire your sidearm while having the shield equipped, because the point of the shield is to protect your team upon entry and act as mobile cover while making your way through each setting. In a game like Rainbow Six: Siege, which requires tactical play and teamwork, the shield carrier should have teammates on his six to eliminate surrounding threats anyways. The shield carrier is able to fire without the shield equipped, and that should be the only time they can fire. It’s a trade-off that would make them vulnerable, much like all of the other classes.
Rainbow Six: Siege has a ton of potential to be an excellent entry in the series, and even though it may not be as accessible (ie: popluar) as other shooters on the market, that doesn’t mean it should be treated as a second-tier shooter. There are plenty of tactical enthusiasts out there that love the Tom Clancy line of games, and they expect a quality experience. If the only way to achieve that is by delaying the game another 6 – 12 months, then please, by all means, do so. There are so many games coming out this fall, it’s possible Rainbow Six: Siege won’t sell particular well anyways. I know it’s not as easy as saying, “Hey, let’s delay this game another six months,” but out of respect for the Rainbow Six franchise, it would behoove Ubisoft to consider holding the game back a little longer. This would allow the developer the time needed to fine tune Siege and make sure it meets the series’ high standards.