Only a few months have passed since Ubisoft announced at E3 that Terrorist Hunts would be returning in Rainbow Six Siege. Messages immediately blew up between our small gaming group. The three of us have been gaming together for a long time; at least a decade, if not more. When Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 released in 2008, we networked together a couple of Xbox 360s and played Terrorist Hunts endlessly. Eventually we migrated to the the PC and spent countless hours progressing our characters, unlocking weapons, and hunting terrorists all over again. Ubisoft would stop officially supporting online matchmaking, but it’s still possible to play online (we had to try after hearing the announcement).
Post by: Adam "Lersar" Army
This past weekend, Ubisoft began the closed beta of Rainbow Six: Siege, and late Thursday afternoon we found ourselves with invites. After installing Ubisoft’s Uplay client and downloading around 7GB of game files, we were online. Bugs are expected in a beta, but we hit a large one pretty quick: only one of us was actually able to invite the other two to a squad to play. If Keary or I tried to invite one another, we would get a “session not found” error. After a bit of Googling, we counted our blessings that at least one of us could assemble the squad, and we jumped in.
With adult life to contend with, we weren’t actually able to play Thursday night but we launched the game to make sure everything was set. Ubisoft scared us with only Team Deathmatch mode available. While it features some aspects of Terrorists Hunts (more on that in a bit) and we were willing to compromise, it wasn’t the co-op experience we were hoping to try. By the time we were ready to play the next day, Ubisoft had added our mode in. For those who may not have played the mode before, Terrorist Hunt is a human versus AI mode in which your squad must dispatch all terrorists on the map, and in a certain time limit depending on the difficulty. Terrorists are (for the most part) strategically placed throughout the map, easily outnumbering you and aren’t going to let you proceed without a fight. A few minor changes in Siege are the squad sizes has been increased to five (Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 featured a squad of four), and you only have one life... at least in this beta window. Once eliminated, you can cycle through your remaining squad members via a camera of their perspective.
The first map we played on was Consulate, an embassy-like setting in which terrorists had barricaded themselves. We chose the only “operator” available, the recruit, which is a jack-of-no-trades unit allowing you to pick a weapon set amongst the game’s global anti-terrorists organizations. This is perhaps the biggest change from Vegas 2: instead of having a unique character that you choose weapons and perks for, Siege features fleshed out characters (referred to as operators) that each have something different to offer and a smaller selection of equipment that compliments it. Although Siege won’t have a dedicated campaign mode, these operators appear to have backstories and personalities (this content was available in the beta).
To unlock new operators, you must spend “Renown” points earned from your performance in games, so we played a few rounds to build some up. The Recruit isn’t a bad character and honestly has a nice variety of equipment options. I’d recommend finding some weapons you enjoy and then basing your operator choice from that. We later found out that the beta offered short tutorial videos (around a minute each) that would score you 200 Renown points each for a total of 600; enough to buy your first operator. Once an operator is unlocked, you can also spend Renown points on weapon customization: adding a red-dot sight, attaching a compressor, or even applying skins. If you’re the skeptical type, that all probably screams “freemium”, but to my knowledge Ubisoft hasn’t hinted at that sort of thing. Think of it more like the progression model in Call of Duty, at least for the time being.
Consulate is one of three maps available in the beta, along with House and Hereford Base. Additionally, there are day and night versions of each map. After playing each a few times, we went shopping with our Renown points. There isn’t currently a way to purchase anything while actively engaged in matchmaking, even if you are only playing with your squad and not bringing in other players. I hate to keep referring to Call of Duty, but again it functions very similar (at least for the last one I played). When you finish a map, either successfully or not, you’ll be taken to a post-game window where you’ll see Renown and EXP gained, votes for a rematch, etc. You are then taken to the next map, choose your operator, and out you go. So you’ll have to back out to the menu to buy things, which disbands your squad. A minor inconvenience for a pre-made party, but more frustrating if you have to wrestle with leaving a good group of players online.
I mentioned earlier that each operator has a unique ability to assist in the hunt. Keary’s first operator was Fuze, a heavily-armored attacker armed with Cluster Charge, a piece of equipment that mounts on a breachable wall, but instead of busting it down makes a small hole and shoots grenades into the room. Travis chose Sledge, a medium-armored attacker armed with a Breaching Hammer: a melee weapon that destroys doors and walls. I chose IQ, a light-armored attacker with an Electronics Detector that reveals “things on batteries”, such as cameras or more importantly explosives.
Notice that each of these are referred to as an attacker? In Terrorist Hunt mode you play the role of the attackers; the anti-terrorists. While in the PvE mode you’ll face generic terrorist tropes (roamer or bomber for example), in Team Deathmatch PvP, there are also defender operators that can be unlocked with the same concept of unique abilities to fight off the invaders.
My operator choice was originally based simply on the guns available to her, but I quickly found the value in the mission equipment (the Electronics Detector). Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 did a decent job of AI for that generation, but one could still stand a pretty decent chance at success by just running in. Ubisoft has introduced a number of new challenges to prevent this, and the skills that the operators offer help overcome them. I mentioned the bomber earlier, but it doesn’t do this guy justice. Many Lone Wolf attempts (playing solo) were ended because of this guy, who is basically a kamikaze that runs at you. Inside the tight corridors of makeshift safe house, it's horrifying. Even with a squad it isn’t uncommon for a teammate to play martyr and go down with him. You can usually tell when one is nearby from heaving breathing of what I’m assuming is exhaust of the explosives he’s armed with, or the flashing lights. Alternatively, certain operators have drones to deploy that can scout out enemies and tag them, at least until they catch it. There are also trip mines armed on stair cases, around corners, or anywhere inconvenient. The Electronics Detector can find these from a safe distance.
While we spent most of our time in Terrorist Hunts, we did also play a few rounds of Team Deathmatch. This mode is reminiscent Counter-Strike: teams taking turns on both sides and score points if they complete the objective, or deny the point by stopping the opposing team. The games are played on the same maps, but add in objectives such as bombs to defend/diffuse. I mentioned how defender operators exist, but in addition their equipment selection includes the previously discussed items Siege introduces such as trip mines, reinforcements, barbed wire, and so on. The AI in Terrorist Hunts place these items automatically, but on the defending side your team has the opportunity to set them up as you see fit.
As excited as we were to hear that Terrorist Hunts were returning, there was a nervousness about if they’d do it right. Anyone who has had a favorite game remade, remastered, or even sequeled can appreciate that. Despite a few beta-forgiven bugs, this weekend’s beta helped put most of that skepticism to rest. Ubisoft announced that they are extending this beta window until October 1st, so we’ll definitely be getting in as much time as possible and looking forward to the full release.