One of the biggest questions surrounding the second year of Rainbow Six Siege is when new game modes will be introduced. For the last year, players have rescued the same hostages, defused the same bombs, and secured the same areas again and again. Compared to Titanfall 2, which has and more , that seems a little slight. But at a preview event in Montreal, Canada, creative director Xavier Marquis has a clear message when it comes to new game modes: "It's something that we do not want to do."
That will ruffle the feathers of more than a few players who have been hoping that new variations might be arriving sometime soon, but Ubisoft is confident that new game modes aren't what will keep Siege fun a year from now. More importantly, it even risks diluting what makes Siege fun to begin with. "The map can be different, the operators can be different, but we need something static and that is Siege mode. Siege is the center of everything," Marquis says.
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I spoke with brand director Alexandre Remy to get more insight into what that means. "We're constantly looking and prototyping," he explains. "But the thing is, when doing that we concluded that there are some foundations to Siege that we want to keep: attack versus defense, destruction, operators, and [only having] one life. That is the DNA of the game, so when you look at what game modes would sufficiently refresh the experience but remain faithful to those rules, there's not that many. Siege is its own game mode."
Those core concepts rule out a lot of the traditional multiplayer modes that players are used to like team deathmatch. But, as Remy explains, it was also a realization that came later in development. "When we launched the game a year ago," he admits, "we were like, yeah, we're going to make new content including game modes because it's a formula that makes sense. But as we moved forward we realized there's so much depth with operators and destruction. That has a lot to offer, so the focus is always going to be on refreshing the meta with operators and new maps."
Siege's Year Two will follow the same format as last year's updates, introducing eight new operators and four new maps spread across four seasonal updates. But Remy explains that the team is looking far beyond another eight operators. In fact, they plan to release a minimum of 50 with aspirations of reaching twice that amount over the coming years. "The moment that we hit 50 operators, that's the minimum that we actually want," he says.
With 28 operators already released and another eight on the way, I was curious if 50 might dilute what makes each operator unique. After all, there's only so many ways to breach a wall.
"That was one of the questions that was asked by management here, weren't we going to be doing the same operators over and over again?" Remy says. "But the idea is that you actually want enough operators so that each pick you have a choice. Thermite for a long time was not a choice, everyone had to pick him in a team because he was the only one who could breach into a reinforced wall. Introducing Hibana, all of a sudden the player could perform that task with a choice. At that moment every choice is tough choice for the player and not an obvious one. To come to that moment, you need a minimum of 50. When we have 50, that'll be when the game is at its peak in terms of strategy."
It's then that Remy draws a comparison that makes his and Marquis' vision for Siege more clearly: "Looking at MOBAs, those games have from 80 to 100 characters and that still works."
While Siege might have the look of a shooter, it's MOBA DNA is becoming more and more apparent with each update. Similar to Dota 2, Ubisoft believes that new characters are the key to refreshing the metagame, not new objectives to fight over. But I'm curious to see how well that philosophy translates to a shooter grounded in realism compared to a strategy game with boundless creative spaces to draw from.
What's just as interesting is the implication that Siege won't be going anywhere for years to come. By adding only eight operators a year, it's going to to take Ubisoft until the end of year four before they reach that goal of 50 operators. If they truly plan on trying for 100, that's going to be another six years of updates. That's a big commitment for a studio better known for the annualization of series like Assassin's Creed and Far Cry. With the recent announcement that the same kind of post-release plan, I wonder if Siege could be building the template by which all of Ubisoft's games adhere to.
Either way, while I'd love to have some new objectives to fight over, I have to agree with Remy. Given the choice between new operators or a new game mode, I'd vastly prefer the former. Already Year 2 is off to a strong start as both Jackal and Mira—the two operators arriving Tuesday as part of the Velvet Shell update—subvert the meta in exciting ways, showing that Ubisoft isn't running out of ideas yet. Hopefully the same can be said years from now.