Multiplayer shooters are a tough nut to crack. For every Call of Duty or Battlefield that sells millions of copies and numerous map packs, there’s a criminally overlooked Titanfall 2, or worse, the “dead on arrival” Lawbreakers. After cancelling the promising Rainbow Six: Patriots in 2014, Ubisoft’s tactical shooter franchise was reborn from the ashes in the series’ first multiplayer-focused iteration, Siege.
Released in December 2015 following a delay from October of that year, missing Black Friday, losing ground to Black Ops 3 and Star Wars: Battlefront and a fairly meagre content offering (11 maps, 5 modes and 20 operators meant it landed with a thud. Competent shooting and destructible environments aside, with middling reviews all round Siege seemed destined to be lost amidst a sea of shooters that never found their audience. Add to that an unlock system where the game dragged out the unlocking of each operator to the point where it felt tuned to promote micro-transactions and there was a chance it could kill the series as a whole.
Credit to Ubisoft Montreal then, that not only has Siege rebounded from this but has grown to take on 25 million players two years after it’s launch. In fact, every year of content thus far has dropped 4 pieces of free DLC to put meat on the skeleton of an excellent tactical shooter. With Year 3 just kicking off that means 9 FREE expansions thus far.
Year One added new maps which were instantly available alongside unlockable operators which were less of a grind to unlock (although an annual pass unlocks them instantly), and while Year Two did the same, it also included Operation Health – Ubisoft’s fine-tuning patch which fixed several issues that had plagued the game since launch, even cancelling a map considered to be unbalanced. Year Three kicked off earlier this month and amongst new operators, it includes the “Outbreak Event”, focused on a town in New Mexico fighting off zombie-like invaders and other such monsters.
In wanting to jump back into Siege, I was pleased to find that all 20 of the initial operators are now unlocked completely. This allows hours of experimentation to find the best team dynamic for both offensive and defensive operators. I also found every weapon attachment unlocked from the word “go” – no more saving previous points for a new scope. Cosmetics are still unlockable via the in-game store, and you can “grease the wheels” with some real money, but nothing pushes you to it.
It isn’t hard to see what all the fuss is about, either. The first time you use Sledge’s breaching hammer to drop through the ceiling and land behind an enemy team’s defensive perimeter. Taking them all out in a firework display of arterial spray. Or listening for footsteps as opponents abseil down and prepare to breach into your room only to be caught by your fire as soon as they reach the window – there isn’t anything quite like it on the market. Its the intensity of PUBG with none of the walking, the quick rounds that make a match of Call of Duty so accessible and the depth of team dynamics featured in something like Overwatch.
Rainbow Six: Siege isn’t just a game anymore either, its now an eSport. In February of this year, the Six Invitational 2018 Tournament saw 16 teams compete for half a million dollars in a stadium full of rabid fans wanting to see the best of the best duke it out. Its a great game to watch, and it has found an audience on streaming platforms too.
Ubisoft’s shrewd pricing structure also helps to get players onboard – the base game retails at £30 and features everything you’ll need, if you have the time. The Gold Edition features extra bonus content and the Year 3 Pass to ensure you unlock upcoming operators as they come. This retails for around £60 – not far off a lot of games with a lot less content and a less active community. That said, as a game you can keep returning to for more free content, there are few better. Jumping in now (even for £30) unlocks all maps, 20 operators and all weapon attachments.
So, three years into new content and now is likely the best chance to play Siege. Just remember – nowhere is safe.