We were lucky enough during the week-end at Comiccon 2015 to play Rainbow Six Siege, being developed right here at Ubisoft Montreal. Being an avid eSports fan, I was interested to see if the game had potential for a competitive arena. Playing the comparison game is easy when trying to decipher if the game has potential… Competitive objective based shooter? Teams of 5? Lots of communication required to succeed? Sounds a lot like one of the world’s most successful competitive shooters, and one of my favorite games of all time, Counter-Strike.
The gameplay meta
Though we played a beta during Comiccon, the build felt like a full release. The game was running smoothly and beautifully. The controls were responsive, the game looked great and the feeling of competition was already setting in. The game is objective based, be it a hostage rescue or bomb defusal, and this makes it a lot more interesting and nerve-racking than simple deathmatch mode. The player’s movements are deliberately slow, but never sluggish. I honestly really enjoyed the pacing and thought it made for interesting skill based gameplay. We relied a lot more on being smart about the placement of our barricades and traps than pure shooting skills. Drawing parallels to Counter-Strike, you can have the best aimers in the world who land the most difficult shots, but if you don’t have good strategies, you won’t make it far.
It was very easy to get into a game, understand everyone’s role and start kicking. What makes games like Counter-Strike and Call of Duty so popular is that it is very easy to pick up the game, start playing and have fun. There’s no extra long tutorial or videos that explain the mechanics. You are just thrown in and can start shooting people.
Where the competitive aspect starts, and where I think Siege has potential, is that if you want to get good at the game and improve you’ll have to start taking your training seriously. You will have to study the maps and learn them inside and out. When playing our first few rounds, we got completely destroyed, simply because we didn’t know the map. We were even feeling pretty confident in the beginning, barricading out the doors, laying out traps, barbed wire, machine guns, shields, etc… Then the round started, and they came in through the damn ceiling. It was chaos, it was crazy and it was AWESOME. Knowing the map would have helped us understand more where the threats came from and how to react to it.
Communication is also key to succeed in the game. Knowing what role everyone plays and where they are on the map is crucial when trying to defend or attack. Like any good competitive game, you will want to spread out intelligently the responsibilities of everyone on your team. One can be a tank, wearing a heavy shield and body armor, while another might be more limber and carry more grenades or a stronger weapon. From what I saw, we couldn’t actually modify our loadout but I’m sure it’s something that will be done in the full release. For your team to succeed, everyone will have to practice and master different roles and load outs, to ensure a balanced strategy. Speaking of which, the game seems to be balanced towards rewarding players who consistently play together, as opposed to pickup style play.
Like it or not, eSports lives and breathes with its community. What makes games like Dota, CSGO or CoD so fun to watch is that you can sit down and be taken away by casters who will display every aspect of a match with incredible spectator tools. Halo, for example, has a great replay tool where you can rewatch an entire match from any angle, anywhere on the map. This makes it incredibly easy to watch and broadcast games. In the end, a game is nothing without it’s community watching it and supporting it.
While everything seems in place gameplay wise for R6S to succeed, as an esport, the final push rests in the hands of Ubisoft. Be it matchmaking, a ranking system, a ladder system or tournaments, Ubisoft needs to support this game as an esport from day one. Announcing tournaments hosted by Ubisoft with interesting prize pools and production value would be a good start. Offering constant and FREE updates, gameplay tweaks and community interaction will be key to making Rainbow Six Siege a success on the scene. They need to make a big impact right from the beginning if they want to get the attention of other players and competitive organisations. Ubisoft need to make the promise that they are willing to support this title and that big things are on the horizon.
I do believe that Rainbow Six Siege has what it takes to become a serious contender in the eSports market. It’s up to Ubisoft to continue improving the game post release, and spin it properly to the competitive players. Anything can happen.