Rainbow Six Siege Shifting Tides re-review – how to update a video game
With the release of new expansion Shifting Tides, GameCentral explores how four years of updates has changed Rainbow Six Siege for the better.
How many games do you know that have been supported for four straight years? If any, it’s probably only MMOs and mobile titles like Hearthstone. Even Destiny, a game that was originally intended as a 10-year journey, was succeeded by a sequel in 2017. But Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege has been chugging along since launching in early December of 2015.
If you’ve been unaware of the game’s redemption story, it may surprise you to hear just how well Siege is doing now. The first entry in the franchise since Rainbow Six Vegas 2 in 2008, Siege emerged from the ashes of the cancelled Rainbow Six Patriots.
Unlike that title, Siege skips out on a single-player campaign, but even the multiplayer felt anaemic (and buggy) at launch – leading to a Metacritic rating in the seventies, and our own review awarding it a respectable, if unspectacular 7/10.
Despite that, Siege has received incredible support from the developers and, by extension, the community, helping it to become one of gaming’s most popular eSports. It offers an experience unlike any other, melding Battlefield’s destructible arenas with Counter-Strike’s tactics and lethality in tight corridors – where an operator with a huge hammer can break down a floor, drop down behind an enemy squad, and take them all out in one fell swoop.
With the release of the latest add-on, Shifting Tides, it seemed like the right time to check back in on Siege and see how the game has evolved.
When Siege launched in December 2015 the games as a service style of ongoing development seemingly began with it. Within just two months, the first of an incredible 15 expansions launched, and each has added meat to the game’s multiplayer skeleton.
New maps, operators, weapons, and customisation options have been introduced at a steady pace – and considering the ever-shifting nature of the arenas each match takes place in, and the now dozens of operators available, balancing tweaks are just as important as the added content.
In fact, one expansion (Operation Health), added no content but instead focused on bug fixes, balancing, and even implementing anti-cheating safeguards. For a game that lives or dies on its multiplayer aspect, that was arguably the most important expansion.
2019’s final add-on, Shifting Tides, only deployed earlier this week, and it reworks the Theme Park map for balancing, changes the way damage is dealt to ensure balance among operators, and adds two fresh new characters. Kali uses a bolt-action sniper rifle which can instantly down an enemy, while Wamai can essentially reflect projectiles back at opponents.
That takes the current total to 52 operators, 25 maps (that have received multiple tweaks), and seemingly endless changes to the game’s meta, to make as many tactical options viable as possible.
These operators are vital to Siege’s DNA and are grouped into both Attacker and Defender types – each with their own weapons, abilities, strengths and weaknesses. The hammer-wielding character mentioned earlier, Sledge, is powerful but his signature move is slow and leaves him vulnerable to a flanking counterattack. While Thermite, for example, offers similar utility but is able to blow apart reinforced walls – something rare in Siege’s roster but extremely useful.
Operator introductions have not always been positive though. Lion, who is able to scan the entire map for moving enemies, became a point of contention in the game’s competitive scene when Pro League player Fabian began a petition to ban the character. Lion’s ability was essentially replaced by a much less-powerful version that requires more skill to use, but the incident certainly underlined the need for balance amongst the game’s complex moving parts.
While much has changed, there’s plenty that remains the same in Siege. For one, the single-player component is limited to what are essentially training scenarios, as well as terrorist hunts against computer opponents on multiplayer maps. These are a fun way to learn the ropes, or the intricacies of new characters, but offer very little beyond that.
Thankfully, destroying areas of the map to be able to flank or surprise enemies still feels fun – even if the game shows its age a little in the visuals department. Siege was never the prettiest game, but four years on from launch it feels functional at best in terms of graphics.
And yet Rainbow Six Siege is now the best it has ever been, and Ubisoft has confirmed that it intends to support the game for as long as it possibly can, with no plans for a sequel in the immediate future. Siege is the closest thing to Counter-Strike on consoles and offers satisfying gunplay and an insane level of tactical depth – as long as you’re not looking to go it alone.
Rainbow Six Siege re-review summary
In Short: One of the best online shooters of the generation, that’s set the standard for post-game support by turning a content poor launch game into one with almost infinite longevity.
Pros: Tense, unique gameplay with sensationally destructible environments. Excellent support over the years, with mountains of content and the promise of more to come.
Cons: Still no meaningful single-player content. Not the best-looking game around.
Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, and PC
Price: £24.99 (Deluxe Edition)
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: 1st December 2015
Age Rating: 18
By Lloyd Coombes
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