Note: This review will be focused on the core gameplay experience as the game is updated regularly every couple of months with a large batch of content.
Rainbow Six Siege is one of the most unique shooters in the market right now and has been one of my favorites ever since I got into it. It’s a 5v5 tactical hero shooter where teamwork and tactics take center stage and are needed over gun skills to be able to win. Siege takes a more realistic approach to it’s gameplay with mechanics such as the one-shot headshot and destructible environments that let you bust through walls like the Kool-Aid man. This all mixes to make one of the most fun shooters on the market right now and is the type of game you’re looking for if you want tactical yet fast paced action.
The main gameplay consists of multiplayer matches where players are split into two teams, Attack and Defense, with teams being switched between the two roles every round, so get comfortable playing both roles if you wish to see success. Each team consists of five players who stick together trying to win by either completing the main objective of their role or by eliminating the enemy team before the timer finishes. Teams ultimately aim to win a certain number of rounds, which varies between game modes, before the enemy team does.
Attacking involves entering the enemy base with your team and either completing the objective (which varies between game modes) or eliminating the enemy team. You begin in the prep phrase where each attacker is given a small drone and can go get info on what the defenders are setting up and where. After this, you are on the offensive and have to work against a timer before you automatically lose. Hopefully, you have already scouted out the enemy and have some sort of a plan as you are going to be walking into fortified areas where the entrenched defenders have prepared for your assault (or should have at least). How you go about attacking is your team’s choice: you can choose to split into groups attacking from different areas, pressure the enemy by charging in all at once, or use some crazy and unconventional strategy you’ve made on the spot. To accomplish your strategy you’re given a batch of tools (such as the drones mentioned earlier) along with explosive charges, grappling hooks, and of course your guns. Go get em tiger, you got this!
Defense is about fortifying your chosen base and either winning by eliminating the enemy team or stalling them long enough for the timer to run out. With this in mind, defenders are in a favorable position as they only have to wait for the attackers to make their moves with your main goal being to make it as hard as you can for the attackers to get to your objective. Defenders accomplish this by working together and taking advantage of the many gadgets at their disposal. Three gadgets specifically play a large role in the gameplay loop of playing defense and they are reinforcements, barricades, and cameras. Reinforcements are metal walls (stored in your pocket by the way), that let you make walls indestructible by most means. Barricades are destroyable wooden panels that can be placed on doorways and windows to slow down attackers by forcing them to make a lot of noise and waste precious time breaking through. Lastly, defenders have access to a camera system to spy on attackers and get a sense of their location and strategy. Again, how all this is pulled off is left to your team’s choice: maybe you decide to have an offensive defense or will hunker down and brace for the storm.
There are three main modes which include bomb, secure area, and training grounds.
Bomb, considered the game’s main PVP mode, involves attackers taking a diffuser to one of two bomb sites and trying to either disable the bomb or eliminate the enemy team. Defenders have to stop the attackers by eliminating them or stalling them out long enough. If the attackers place the diffuser down and it reaches its activation period, the attackers win, but if the defenders are able to disable the diffuser before then, the defenders win. This is the only game mode available in competitive matches. In other words, it’s similar in basic format to games like CSGO.
Secure Area is an extra PVP mode where attackers have to capture an objective from the defenders by standing within it for at least ten consecutive seconds for a meter to fill up. If any defenders are on the objective, the attackers make no progress on their capture and are forced to either eliminate the defenders or force them off site. This game mode is only available in casual matches.
Training grounds is a PVE mode with up to 4 players where you can go to sharpen up your skills against AI opponents. You can change the objective to be things such as defending an objective against waves of enemies, rescuing a hostage from terrorists, or a simple elimination match. This is the only gamemode that you can play offline.
Siege features unique characters named “operators” with access to unique gadgets and weapon loadouts, who vary between attack and defense. Operators are chosen by the player before the start of each round and change how the action will take place drastically by the use of their unique gadgets. These unique gadgets range from things as simple as a blowtorch and bear traps to things as complicated as holograms and nano drones. Each gadget completes a specific job and some gadgets even complete the same job but do it in different ways which adds a strategy dynamic before the round even starts as you have to carefully gauge which gadgets will work best for the situation. There are also the weapon loadouts which are mostly unique to every operator and loosely based on what the character’s military unit would use in real life. Then there are even secondary gadgets like grenades and flashbangs which are universal, but choice varies between operators. The strength of a loadout is usually based on the operator’s role in the game and how strong their unique gadget is.
To give you a better idea of what I described above, let’s look at two operators named Thermite and Hibana who can both destroy reinforcements, the steel walls mentioned earlier, but do it in different ways. The main differences between the two operators are how exposed you are using their gadget and how big of an opening you’re going to be making. Thermite is the most exposed when using his gadget as he actually has to go up to the wall and place his charge, meanwhile Hibana can open walls from far away using her disc launcher. Thermite makes a giant opening with his charge and gets rid of almost an entire wall meanwhile Hibana only makes very small openings and has to use multiple charges to make one big enough to where a player can walk through (see comparison image below). A smaller difference between the two are their weapons, as Thermite uses his 556XI which has a large clip and low recoil, while Hibana uses her Type-89 which has a high fire-rate and small magazine. Both ultimately complete the same task, opening walls that are undestructable by most other operators and making it inconvenient for defenders by adding another line of sight/entrance. There are even two other operators named Ace and Maverick that can also open up reinforcements but for the sake of a simpler example I only covered Thermite and Hibana.
There are currently 59 operators as of the date that this review was published and more are planned to be added in the future. How many operators you start with depends on the version of the game that you buy with more expensive versions having more operators. I recommend that you buy the Deluxe version as this gives you a good batch of operators for a fair price (wait for the game to go on sale, which it is often, and then that version will be usually about $10). You can unlock further operators with either in-game currency which is earned from playing or real world money. If you want to unlock them purely through playing, the grind isn’t too bad and operators go down in price over time. An area of moral concern in regards to operators are the various microtransactions that are offered by the game such as outfits and weapon skins. Thankfully they do not affect gameplay as they are purely cosmetic and none of them provide the characters with heavily immodest designs. That being said, some of the more expensive skins can cost upwards to $20 and there are many limited time items available, so be sure to practice temperance as it may be tempting to fall into consumerism.
As a final note on the topic of operators, I believe that this mechanic can teach it’s players the important spiritual lessons of humility and community. Similar to the concept of the “mystical body” of the Church that St. Paul presents in many of his writings, each limb (teammate) has to perform its job for the body (team) to work effectively. No part of this body can say to another “I have no use for you” and must aim towards synergy for the greater good. Straight off the bat you’re going to realize it’s going to be difficult to win if you aren’t working with your team. Sure, you may have some flashy gun skills from playing something like CS:GO, but they aren’t going to matter if you can’t even get into the objective because you refuse to work with your team. Many unique gadgets are no good if used alone and have to be used in synergy if you wish to see any success. The enemies’ gadgets are also harder (and sometimes even impossible) to counter if you don’t work together to do something about them. Ultimately the Operator mechanic forces you to humbly accept to work with your team, much like in the Church where we are called to use our gifts in unison to advance the will of God, we must also strive to work with our teammates, even if they are difficult and toxic, if we wish to see victory and promote charity.
However this may be a double edged sword for some, as this game is almost exclusively an online experience where you may be interacting with new players every match and Siege is unfortunately known for having a very toxic environment in its voice and text chats. This may tempt you to fall into wrath and hatred against your teammates and opponents if you fail to practice self control. So if anger is something that you struggle with, it is best that you stick to playing with a group of friends and lay low from the more competitive side of the game. This leads into another point which is that the game is admittedly a lot less fun when you playing with a team of random players. That’s because of the awkwardness of not knowing your teammates playstyles and personalities which makes it difficult to create polished strategies. It can honestly be a giant source of frustration when your team doesn’t seem to know how to work together and you feel like chickens running around without heads. If you still decide to play with randoms, the words of St. Paul to always be humble, patient, and bearing should guide your online conduct.
Siege has realistic graphics that create a world similar to our own and work well for the tense 5v5 settings that the game thrust players into. This also means that guns, which are modeled directly from their real life counterparts, and the blood, which comes out as a cloud of red gas and can splatter on the environment, are also realistic and may be of moral concern to some. The most gruesome aspect of the game is that characters scream in anguish as they are getting shot and are ultimately killed. However I believe that these design choices are used in good will to add realism to Siege and are tame compared to other games.
The artstyle lacks the punch and color of other games in the shooter category such as Overwatch and Valorant as there aren’t too many colors and the game does have a slightly washed feeling to it, but to be fair, it is aiming for a realistic feel so this is understandable. Thankfully the surprising variety of environments that the game takes you to help make up for the lack of pop. For example there is a map that takes you to a Austrian inn in the middle of nowhere, another takes you to a Japanese mansion on top of a skyscraper, and there is even one that takes you to a yacht that has crashed into an iceberg. Another redeeming factor is the UI, it has a nice and slick look to it’s visuals even if it is a bit clunky to navigate.
While the game is focused on multiplayer there is a story that takes place mostly outside of the game that gives some juicy lore behind everything that is going on. Stories mostly take the form of animated shorts found on the Ubisoft YouTube channel and the descriptions found in the background tabs of each operator where everyone is given their own backstory, psychological report, and other tidbits. The operators live in a shared world so their stories may intersect with those of others, with some getting along well and others at odds with one another for various reasons. One of my favorite stories from the game is that of operators Goyo and Amaru. Goyo was a young kid in Mexico when a bomb killed his father and sister and left his mom seriously injured. Without a father figure and a now broken family, Goyo was susceptible to the temptations of drugs and gangs but Amaru stepped into his life as a big sister figure helping him stay on the right path. With her help he entered into military school, and after graduating, he earned his way into the Fuerzas Especiales, the Mexican equivalent of the Navy Seals. Stories like these make the characters feel more human and let you feel more connected to the operators you play.
Siege has a batch of unique mechanics that separate it from other shooters and that add to the game’s emphasis on realism and tactics.
One of the mechanics that makes Siege special is it’s brutally punishing one-shot headshot mechanic which can be one of the most satisfying or devastating things you ever experience playing a video game depending on if you are on the delivering or receiving side of that bullet. It’s not just with certain guns either, any weapon from any distance can eliminate another player if they hit them in the head. This is a drastic change to the usual shooter formula and means you should always try and aim towards the neck to be able to one-shot kill your opponents. It also forces you to really think about your moves as you can easily be eliminated if you leave yourself exposed in an open area or try to charge in like Leroy Jenkins.
Another unique aspect of Siege is that you are only allowed to spawn once every round. This combined with the lethality of headshots mentioned earlier really make you use your head as one foolish mistake can drastically change the outcome of the round. Thankfully, if you do end up dying, you can still be very useful to your team as you can still control the camera system mentioned earlier even after death. This means you are still able to collect intel for your teammates and possibly change their fate. It may not be the most fun thing in the world, but it beats just sitting around spectating your teammates.
The third mechanic that makes Siege unique is the environmental destruction that is possible with your weapons and explosives. Your bullets have the potential to penetrate “softer” surfaces such as drywall and wood and snag your eliminations on the other side. If you shoot long enough or have a high caliber weapon you can even destroy the surface and make a small opening. Gadgets make destruction even easier as they can destroy the reinforced walls mentioned earlier and usually get rid of a huge area in a short amount of time. It’s honestly one of the best features available in the game and has been used very cleverly.
To give you an example of the usefulness of the environmental destruction: Imagine that the objective you are trying to capture is a floor below you and the attackers there are well entrenched and are preventing you from easily getting in through normal means. You could choose to go to the floor above the objective and shoot them from above by breaking the wooden floor and shooting between the metal support beams. This suppressive fire from above might create enough chaos to allow your teammates to squeeze through the front door while the enemies have their attention divided.
With all these awesome features in mind, one of the biggest challenges to playing Siege is surviving the rough learning curve. It can be super discouraging to new players as randomly being one-shotted from across the map and not being able to respawn can be super frustrating. Thankfully developer Ubisoft has added a lot of features for new players to adjust to Siege such as extra tutorials and a refined practice area. The YouTube side of the fandom is also really helpful for teaching you anything you need to know about the game. There is even a newcomer playlist where only “new” players are allowed to join which sounds good on paper, but is sometimes filled with smurfs (experienced players who purposely make new accounts to bully new players), so I would recommend staying away from it once you get the hang of things.
Rainbow Six Siege is a first person shooter that places an emphasis on team-based combat and realism to deliver a unique experience. Mechanics such as environmental destruction and the operator system give you a variety of ways to ensure that each match is a fresh and rewarding experience. If you are willing to stick with the growth pains, I believe that you will have an amazing time, especially if you play with friends.
Replayability: 4/5 (-1 for being heavily dependent on whether your friends want to play)
Story: 4/5 (-1 for mostly being outside of the game)
Art and Graphics: 5/5
-Violence/blood: This game includes blood as this is a military shooter where humans are shooting at one another with realistic weapons. Thankfully the violence is not over the top and aspects such as the blood become almost unnoticeable when you are laser focused.
-Language: There are rare instances of Operators cursing when they use their abilities and the enemy terrorists in the PVE mode frequently curse at the player. You can turn off voice lines in the settings for the operators but i’m not sure about the terrorists. This game heavily relies on communicating with teammates, so be aware that you may hear teammates speak or type about inappropriate subjects.
-Illicit drugs/locations: There are some maps that have illicit drugs lying around but are purely there for thematic purposes and can not be used by the player. One map specifically named Clubhouse contains a small abandoned strip club for thematic purposes and has a pole and a neon silhouette of a naked woman (There is almost never any action in this area of the map though, so you’ll likely not go there often).
-Wrath: The game has a toxic reputation so if you struggle with anger, stay away from the more competitive modes and only play with friends. For others, it may be an opportunity to introduce Catholic charity into an environment that has a reputation for hostility.
-Consumerism: Lots of skins are available for purchase but none are necessary to enjoy the game.