There’s no emotion better for a developer than paranoia. When a gamer’s paranoid, they’re never bored, never looking away from the screen, and certainly never shift-tabbing to respond to Steam messages. Yet, in all the games I’ve played in my life, none have succeeded at making me feel so constantly paranoid as Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six: Siege. And it’s all thanks to those damn walls.
For those out of the loop, Rainbow Six: Siege is a multiplayer tactical shooter where a team of five attacking operators siege (hence the title) a building held by another team of five defensive operators in hopes of rescuing a hostage, defusing a bomb, or capturing a control point. Well, at least in theory. In practice, it’s much more likely that players will take the more interesting route, and opt to end a match the old fashioned way by blasting away at each other and destroying nearly anything that gets in their way.
And when I say nearly everything can be destroyed, I mean it. With enough firepower, ceilings crumble, barricades go up in flames, and particularly crafty players can even smash holes in walls, turning them into nothing more than leaden slices of swiss cheese. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a suburban home or on Air Force One, if a surface isn’t explicitly made of metal, it can most certainly be destroyed at your leisure.
Of course, destroying the environment does more than add texture to a level or just provide a bit of fun; it also happens to be one of the most important factors that goes into the outcome of a match. Thanks to instakill headshots and an incredibly low time to kill with just about every weapon, whoever has control of key points of the map has the upper hand. This is what makes the destructible environments of Rainbow Six: Siege so genius; while knowing a map’s layout is still as important as it is in a title like Counter-Strike, the fact that the map can change drastically at literally any second means a good defense requires more than just setting up ambushes near all the doorways.
Instead, defenders need to stay on their toes, keeping a close eye on just about every inch of the map, because the attackers really can come from anywhere. One match, they might be haphazardly lobbing grenades through shotgun-made holes in walls, and the next you’ll find the walls, and ceiling, of your heavily fortified room all detonate at once thanks to some well-placed breach charges. As such, there is no way to ever assure that you will be safe while camping—no way to assure that someone won’t blast right through the wall behind you and fire off a burst into the back of your skull.
Of course, there are ways to counter an attacker. Everyone has two giant metal sheets they can use to reinforce walls from being destroyed, and a mixture of mines, class-specific traps, and bunches of razor wire is more than enough to deter most operators into taking a different route. But that’s no guarantee, and it’s never a good idea to let your guard down, even near supposedly-safe areas.
Because even if you’re hiding behind your own fortifications, specialist operators can still find a way to bring the house down on you in ways you don’t expect. Ash can fire long-ranged breaching charges to leave you open without risking her own skin, Thermite can use his specialized thermite packs to blow the aforementioned fortified walls away like nothing more than tissue paper, and your heavy fortifications that block off your doorways can turn your room into your own tomb if Fuze gets a chance to fire his bouncing bombs through a wall.
All of these elements combine to make every match of Rainbow Six: Siege a standout match, where even a team composed of nothing but heavy-hitters can be decimated by one sub-machine gun wielder if he plays his cards right. And it’s little wrinkles in the multiplayer formula like that that make Rainbow Six: Siege not just a good multiplayer shooter, but a truly great one.
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