10 things we know about Rainbow 6: Siege from yesterday's showing
Rainbow 6 is back, and not in the noisy, deliberately provocative, trying-too-hard manner of Rainbow 6: Patriots. Siege made its first appearance at Ubisoft's conference yesterday, showing an encouraging return to the tactical roots of the series, with the bonus addition of total destructability and tight 5 vs. 5 multiplayer. There's plenty to glean from the video demonstration, so we've picked out ten points of interest ahead of Evan's hands-on impressions later.
1. It has a strong multiplayer focus
The occasionally-teased Rainbow 6: Patriots is gone, which is a good thing. It looked as though Ubisoft were planning to take the series away from the tense, tactical encounters of classic Rainbow 6, and toward the bombastic action-movie territory occupied by Call of Duty. That's seemingly all been swept away in favour of a new multiplayer-focused tactical close combat game fought between terrorists and counter-terrorist units. The game mode shown in the E3 trailer is called "Hostage Mode". Ubisoft hasn't given any precise details regarding other modes, but they "realize that Rainbow Six has always been known for quality solo / co-op gameplay, including Terrorist Hunt, so expect more information on these modes in the future." Excellent.
2. Both teams have time to plan
The SWAT team circle the house in what appears to be an interactive reconnaissance sequence. A time limit ticks down at the top of the screen, suggesting that both teams will have a set-up period before the round begins. The SWAT team use drone cameras to try and find the hostage, while the criminals install defences to limit their access points. Once the round starts, another timer activates, giving the authorities five minutes to extract the hostage.
3. It's first-person only
Unlike the Vegas games, which popped you out of your character's head when in cover, Rainbow 6: Siege will be first-person at all times. In addition, Ubisoft say "we are making sure that 60 FPS and low latency are mandatory so that player’s input is fast and responsive." It's built in the Anvil-Next engine, which is the technology used to build the Assassin's Creed series.
4. You can reinforce walls and windows
There's a lot of procedural destruction in this demo, enabled by the Realblast technology Ubi have implemented into Anvil-Next. Almost any wall or floor can be devastated by a tactical shotgun blast or a breaching charge. Here a terrorist is seen unfolding some armour plating to make it more difficult for the SWAT team to breach through a section of wall and a window. Later on, the SWAT team use a drone to scope out a room to find out which walls are fortified. The criminals are racing against time to throw down as much armour as they can before the assault begins in a display of what Ubisoft call "stronghold" tactics.
5. Tactical maps are back
This screen is a nice nod to the early Rainbow 6 games, when you'd plot routes for multiple squads on a map screen before starting a mission. In the old games, some of those squadmates would end up stuck halfway in a door, here we get a general overview of the property, which also shows the windows and walls that the criminals have fortified. There are multiple entry points which would spawn the SWAT team on the ground, but they choose to rappel out of a chopper instead—another Rainbow 6 staple. Also note the "change class" prompt in the bottom right corner...
6. There's a class system
Based on previous Rainbow 6 games, this likely determined your level of armour and your weapon. Of the three SWAT team members we see in the video, there is definitely a 'heavy' variant in heavy tactical armour with a shield. The others appear to be generic assault classes, and the unseen sniper player may represent a third class.
7. Rappelling is back
Rappelling was one of the best bits of Rainbow 6: Vegas, and the rappel system shown here looks even better. As ever, you can approach windows upside down, and swing around for a foot-first window breach, but rather than relying on pre-ordained rappel points, there's a rail around the edge of the entire roof which lets you can drop down from any side of the property. Housing regulations obviously mandate that such rails be installed on every rooftop, to counter the absurdly high number of hostage situations that occur in the world of Rainbow 6.
8. If you die, you stay dead (until the next round)
Players can revive one another within a short time frame if they're taken down. In the trailer there's quite a lot of pointless firing at walls to demonstrate the destructibility tech, but when bullets land, they take their targets down quickly. If a character isn't revived, they're removed from the match. This can mean sitting out for a bit if you're taken down early, but the round is only five minutes long, and that sense of vulnerability is vital in a tactical raid. According to Ubisoft, "even when killed, players still have a very important role because they can access cameras in the building and share information with their teammates who are still alive."
9. The hostage can be used as cover
The criminals regroup in a different room in the house and use the hostage as a human shield. The hostage's movements and reactions are uncomfortably believable as she's dropped, grabbed and moved around like a flag in a round of CTF. Presumably there will be different hostages and objectives in the final game, or they could implement Spelunky's system, which lets players pick between a "damsel" a "mansel" and an adorable pug. At one point the hostage reacts to the drone, giving the game away to a nearby terrorist. We'll have to wait and see if that dynamic behaviour makes it into the final game. Also, it looks as though the player looking after the hostage is restricted to a pistol, encouraging team members to provide cover fire.
10. The map is bigger than it looks
A criminal that fled the house earlier in the video finds the SWAT team's sniper, who's based in a house across the road from the property, which suggests that houses in the surrounding area are explorable. Rainbow 6: Vegas had sizeable co-op multiplayer maps like "Murdertown", which were great locations for a good round of Terrorist Hunt. Evan is playing Rainbow 6: Siege at E3, and we'll have his hands-on impressions on the site later.