Rainbow Six Siege is so consistently buggy that I can't even be mad anymore

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(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Whenever a brave Rainbow Six Siege newcomer joins a game with my usual group, we offer a gentle warning: This might take a while. If the game restarts a couple times when you launch it, don't worry: That's normal. Can't see the squad invite? Normal. Some kind of crossplay matchmaking error? Yeah, that's normal. Try restarting the game. Try restarting Ubisoft Connect. Try restarting your PC. You're in? Great. You crashed? Normal.

Ubisoft's 5v5 tactical shooter is just so consistently, comically buggy that I've ceased being frustrated when something baffling happens—what can you do? That's just Siege. Sometimes I even feel a little thrill when I encounter a new bug, like a birdwatcher spotting a rare warbler. Oh, I finally got the thing where the sky flickers!

It's an exotic new kind of lag, I guess?

Most of this stuff can be worked around. For a while, Siege kept crashing for me on a certain map, and when I verified the local files, Steam discovered something missing and repaired it. An easy fix, but others are more enigmatic. A friend used to blue screen every time he launched the game, unless he had just restarted his PC. Who knows what that was about, but we get our matches in, usually.

One exception is a brutal glitch that has come and gone for months now. Siege will freeze mid-match, and for a moment you'll think your whole PC has locked up, but then someone will say something in Discord and you'll realize that your PC is fine—you're just experiencing some heretofore unknown videogame glitch where the game freezes or stutters as if your processors are struggling, but spectating teammates can see it happen, too. It's not your framerate, it's an exotic new kind of lag, I guess? The problem seems to worsen the longer you play, and restarting the game only sometimes helps. My friends and I haven't been hit by the Siege freeze as often lately, but for a period last year it was happening to us regularly.

That's one I'd really like to see eradicated (although apparently some friends think they've overcome it by killing a certain Ubisoft launcher process), and it's not like Ubisoft doesn't patch the thing, so maybe it's on the to-do list. It can't make things easier that every new operator has a new gadget that interacts with the destructible maps and all the other gadgets in ways that inevitably introduce new bugs and exploits that require new fixes. The latest patch fixed stuff like "Brava cannot shoot with a converted Yokai if Echo is eliminated" and "large drones can't fit in vents with vent blockers in House map" and the list of those kinds of problems, addressed and still unaddressed, gets longer with each seasonal update.

At some point, I just accepted that there might be too many wires to untangle here.

Ubi's also kept busy by the endless war against cheaters. Lately, it's been going after console players who use input spoofing devices to play with a mouse and keyboard instead of a controller. A sort of accidental cheating emerged this week, too, when a new bug—there's always a new bug!—started dropping PC players into console lobbies, where they've predictably been cleaning up. That one's funny, though. No need to rush to fix it.

At some point, I just accepted that there might be too many wires to untangle here, and weird, occasionally game-breaking stuff is just going to happen in Seige. I still have fun playing it despite the jank, and I just can't be bothered getting mad about it anymore. If it were going to be fixed, wouldn't it have happened by now, over seven years after Siege launched? And if I were going to stop playing, wouldn't I have uninstalled by now?

One thought I had is that Ubisoft could follow Valve's example with Counter-Strike 2 and rebuild Siege on a new engine, giving it a better foundation for continued growth. Siege's plumbing is much more complex than CS:GO's, though, so I wonder if that's practical. Maybe they're better off continuing this endless remodeling project instead of trying to remake 67 operators and their gadgets, plus all the maps. 

What about a totally fresh start, though? Siege 2 with just a handful of operators? If that's the only way to fix the bug that makes my red dot sight flicker sometimes, I'm interested.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.