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Breach, Flash Bang and Assault

We have a history with the Rainbow Six series of games, born of out of my brothers and nephew playing the franchise on the Xbox. I’ve also enjoyed at least one of the single-player campaigns in the series in the form of Rainbow Six: Vegas on the Xbox 360. I can’t remember if we did much multi-player on the Xbox 360, but we certainly enjoyed the more tactical approach to the first person shooter that the games delivered.

It’s A Focused Experience

To say Siege is a focused experience is an understatement. There is no single-player campaign and the multi-player is primarily focused on a team of five breaching and assaulting a close-quarters location to secure an objective and another team of five defending it. The game is played in rounds, the first to three (though I have some sense ranked games have more rounds), and the games themselves last 5 minutes.

Okay, you can say every Rainbow Six game has been about this, but Siege takes it to a whole other level. In attack it’s about intelligence gained during the reconnaissance phase and then an organised and coordinated assault. In defence it’s about fortifying the position and responding dynamically to the assault. It’s about diligent, but hasty, preparation followed up with tight execution.

It’s also true that every option in attack has a counter in defence. Attack may have surveillance options, defence has an operative that jams. Grenades can be countered by one operatives point defence lasers installations. The fortified defences that can be put on walls and doors by defence can be breached by thermite and so on. An amazing amount of the internal environment is destructible, possibly all of it unless materials dictate otherwise. In the old games you might have been given 100% cover due to a chain link fence, in Siege you don’t even get full cover from most walls as guns shoot through and destroy what they should.

One thing is for sure, it works best with a trusted team of five, all working on comms and executing a strategy. Lone wolf, run and gun, jump around (there isn’t even a button for that) game play this ain’t.

I’m All MLG With This Shit

I’m enjoying Rainbow Six: Siege while also admitting I’m pretty bad at it. There is a phrase bandied about these days that people are MLG. I had to look it up, it stands for major league gamer. I’m a bit MLG as well, but I put it down to being a major lame gamer.

It’s the usual problem. I don’t bring my gun on target quick enough. Half the time I just don’t ‘see’ the enemy as quick as they see me. Everyone else seems to know the perfect places to crouch in order to see you before you even know they are there. The good thing about the game is it’s frustrating, but not to the degree it turns me off. The feel of authenticity, especially during assault, still trumps the frustration of everyone else being better than me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments, but they are just that, moments. I don’t perform well consistently.

What’s important is I want to play it more. You see there is scope to play the game better. The team play could be tighter and more consistent. Possibly it is and I don’t even realise it. There is opportunity for timed assaults, breaching in via multiple locations and so on. I’m sure there is also better team coordination to be mined from individual operators, while at the moment I’m not sure the interaction of operator abilities is maximised. It’s also possible this isn’t as big a thing as I think, but I’m sure there is something it. The operator Glaz, for instance, is a sniper, and his abilities seem to be reliant on the activities of others.

I suspect the game isn’t as varied as I think and it falls into patters. As an example, how many different locations does the objective (the bombs, hostage, etc) get placed in? If it tends to be a handful then there will be set tactics and approaches associated with that and so on. It may even be the extensive locations don’t actually ever get fully used as you always find yourself assaulting a small section of it.

The Focused Multi-player Trend

Siege is the latest game in a trend, at least for consoles. The idea that games can be sold with a multi-player component only. This is relatively new. Even games known significantly for their multi-player component have had significant campaigns attached, with a trend to allow people to hop in and hop out cooperatively. The games before Siege have been Titanfall and Evolve, and they have both been of mixed success.

I’m all for games being focused. I don’t hold the ‘tack on a multi-player component’ to largely single-player experiences, as a result it’s only logical the same should be true in reverse. The trouble is I’m not sure it fully works that way, as I think the result is a way to deliver less but charge the same. The big, single-player franchises like Mass Effect, Uncharted, Tomb Raider, Dragon Age and so on cost quite a lot to make. I’m not 100% sure that a game gets the same value in return for there 40 – 50 GBP when you buy a multi-player only game. Not only that the base game is largely a launch vehicle for extra downloadable content.

I can’t help but think games like Rainbow Six: Siege and Star Wars: Battlefront should be charged at a reduced rate, recognising their lesser content value and the fact you’re buying into an effective subscription model. The games share some similarities with free to play but with a high entry fee.

The Inevitable Season Pass

In recognition that Siege is largely the opening gambit in an endeavour to get you to spend more, born by the fact the gaming industry wants to charge you something close to 80-100 GBP for their game rather than 40-50 GBP, and they’re playing with strategies to pull this off. The season pass is now an established method and the plans are already in place, no doubt containing content already developed and separated out (that’s fine, it’s a business decision and I don’t have to buy it).

Siege has taken an ‘interesting’ approach to its season pass in an attempt to balance getting an additional 20-25 GBP while not fragmenting the player base. Usually, the items gamers are willing to pay for are new maps and environments, but if you do that not everyone can play with everyone else.

The approach Siege has taken is, in my opinion, a good and odd thing:-

  • 7 days early access to 8 new operators
  • A 5% renown (experience) boost
  • 5 daily challenges instead of 3
  • 600 credits
  • Two exclusive skins

The only real new content are the 8 operators and everyone gets them 7 days later. The second two are experience boosts, which sounds great, advantageous and potentially game breaking until you realise that renown in Siege doesn’t give you anything. Characters don’t increase in power with renown, they don’t get more powerful gear with renown they just get to say they are a higher level but it makes absolutely no difference to the game other than it being a number…that goes up. The things you unlock in renown don’t make you more powerful as such. Then you get some credits (which normally you buy with real money), which you can use to buy cosmetic items, and then some cosmetic items directly.

I’m not complaining. It’s great that Ubisoft has taken the approach to not risk breaking up the base of players across a fragmented map landscape.

The result is the purchase of the season pass comes down to the 8 operators and how patient you are. To get them without the season pass you’re looking at circa 25 hours of time to unlock each one (allegedly) or 600 credits (4 GPB). It’s interesting that paying for the Operators through credits is 32 GBP, this makes the season pass a bargain on that measure.

It’s a measure that doesn’t overly work on me, but gamers can be a strange crowd. I’m in no rush to buy the season pass, as far as I’m concerned it delivers…nothing. It may even mean you face less competition for your favourite original operator in the future games once the new 8 are released.

A Casual Future

I’ll be playing quite a bit of Siege moving forward, but probably on a casual basis. It’s good fun when I play it. It’s also partly a social event as I play with brothers, nephews and nieces. I also have other things to fit in like Until Dawn and the beast that will be Elite: Dangerous once Horizons hits on 15th December. That is going to take some times with some exploration trips.

I also have some doubts about ranked play. I’ve never tried it, but my concern is it will break the fun element of the game. You see, I’m not stupid, I tend to be the weaker person on the team. In ranked play I’m more likely to offer an indifferent advantage or be the reason for the loss, in only a very small number of situations will I be the one who clinches victory. As a result I’d probably contribute to rank loss which would probably just get frustrating.

We shall see though, enjoying it so far, and it is pretty sweet when you execute a strategy that takes the enemy down with deadly efficiency.

About Ian O'Rourke

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