Rainbow Six Siege Review: Breach City


Rainbow Six Siege is a focused competitive online shooter that separates itself by the way it’s played.

Developer: Ubisoft

Publisher: Ubisoft Montreal

Platforms: Xbox One (Version Reviewed), PS4, Windows PC

Release Date: December 1, 2015

When you only have one life to live and the walls start coming down around you, things get a little tense. That’s the best way to describe Rainbow Six Siege; tense.

The game centers around 5 versus 5 online multiplayer and the resulting experience is a relentless tactical exercise in teamwork. Rainbow Six Siege puts an emphasis on map experience and communication rather than finding the right weapons or having the best aim.

The Siege

Rainbow Six Siege is aptly named because every round of play is a literal siege. There’s a building full of terrorists protecting an objective and outside is a team of special forces trying to take that objective. Each game rotates through four minute rounds without respawns. First to three rounds wins the match, and you can choose to live your single life hunkered down staring through a hole you made in the wall, or risk roaming the halls in search of the opposing force. Some rounds are intense and invigorating, and other times you can play for an entire round and never see an enemy.

If you do see an enemy on your screen, one of you will probably be dead in a matter of seconds, it’s just how a high-damage CQB shooter plays. There is no form of health regeneration and high weapon damage favors the cautious over the bold. This high lethality means the bulk of your strategy won’t lie in that second of gunfire, but rather in the minutes of preparation and decision-making that leads up to it.

Prep or Die

On defense, you are given a limited amount of resources to reinforce your objective, and 30 seconds to do it. Meanwhile, the team on offense pilots 2-wheeled recon drones that descend on the target building in search of their objective.

Attackers can breach through doors, windows, walls, floors, or ceilings so it’s a fair assumption to say nowhere is safe as the defender. Even if you fortify walls with steel and hang bulletproof barriers there are certain operatives that can bypass your best efforts and catch you off-guard.

Early gameplay footage may have led you to believe that entire structures may be gutted during each game, but the level of destruction in each level allows for the feeling of tactical freedom, while keeping the chaos within a balanced nature. You can’t just blast your way through every wall, but there’s enough destruction allowed to feel organic and open up unique tactical opportunities.

All the game types usually break down to just a team deathmatch

Multiplayer lobbies cycle between hostage rescue, bomb defusal, and area securement, and they all use one or two random locations for said objective. Sure, each of these game types have this main objective, but since there are no respawns, killing the other team is always a way to win. In my entire time with online multiplayer I only witnessed one round won by rescuing the hostage, and it was by me. All game types usually break down to being just an alternate team deathmatch. Although hostage rescue is unique in the fact that the death of the hostage also brings the round to an end—accidentally frag the hostage you’re supposed to rescue and you’ll lose the round for your team.

No Rest For The Dead

Kill the hostage, stand in the wrong corner, move up too quickly, trigger a tripwire; there are a lot of ways to mess up in Rainbow Six Siege, and it only takes a single mistake to get yourself killed each round. When you do die, it’s not time to grab a snack or check your phone, because even as a spectator you can help your team.

Dead teammates can still chat with the living, and watch surveillance cameras or idle recon drones to tag enemies or relay critical movement information to living teammates.

Operatives Replace Customization

Instead of allowing full-blown character customization, Rainbow Six Siege has you choose specific characters called operatives. Operatives are either attackers or defenders, and each has a brief introduction video that tries to inject some personality into them.

Each operative has a set few weapons available for use, and weapon attachments are fairly limited in scope. You have your choice of sights, but will likely settle on the same one for every gun you use. Then there’s also the option for a laser sight, 1-3 muzzle choices and maybe a grip. These simple attachment decisions coupled with the minimal weapon selection means you’ll probably have a single play style for each operative you own. This may change with the future content patches, but currently there isn’t much thought for you to put into each of your loadouts.

Your biggest decision with operatives is which to purchase first using your limited amount of “Renown”, the in-game currency awarded for performance. If you focus on the online competitive multiplayer then the rate at which you accrue Renown feels natural and lets you slowly learn each of your operatives without it feeling like a slog or progressing too quickly. If you’re prone to playing the singleplayer content or terrorist hunts you’ll be earning less Renown and that grinding feeling will probably start to kick in.

Though let’s be clear, Rainbow Six Siege is not F2P, it’s a full-price release for what may as well be a multiplayer-only online experience. There’s only a few options for you if you’re not inclined to go head-to-head with others online.

The Lone Wolf

The game starts with 10 solo missions against AI called “Situations”, which do a great job of teaching you the game, its mechanics, and its operatives. Each mission took me between 5-45 minutes to complete, depending on how cautious I was. You’re all alone and don’t get a checkpoint, so sometimes it pays to be extra careful. After completing all 10 Situations there’s an extra mission that requires online cooperative play with others, taking you on a difficult mission to end a terrorist attack on a college campus. For a moment it feels like you’re entering a campaign, but it’s simply a way to transition you into playing with others online.

Terrorist Hunt returns in Rainbow Six Siege and allows for cooperative or solo play, but it’s not quite what you may remember. These missions are really just the online multiplayer modes played against AI enemies with a slightly different context, and I didn’t find them very fun. If you’re playing them to earn Renown, you’ll notice a lower return on investment when compared to the regular online multiplayer.

The Long Game

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The current content offering in Rainbow Six Siege feels a bit underwhelming. Because of the no-respawn system, every mode has the feeling of a team deathmatch which grows tiresome when played over and over again. If you hop offline in search of variety you’ll find the same maps and the same modes with enemy players swapped out for AI, and no teammates by your side.

There’s a season pass available for purchase that focuses on cosmetic content and early access. Ubisoft has promised to keep maps and operators free for players to prevent from splitting the community, something other online-focused shooters aren’t doing. It’s a beneficial strategy for players who may casually enjoy the game, that more developers ought to embrace. You can view Ubisoft’s year one content roadmap for Rainbow Six Siege here.


Your success in Rainbow Six Siege hinges on the route you take, the corners you check, and the teammates you choose to communicate with. Gun skill and twitch reactions take a back seat to decision-making and old-fashioned teamwork. It’s a different kind of Rainbow Six game that focuses on 5v5 online multiplayer online competitive multiplayer and succeeds at satisfying that destructive and/or tactical itch.

A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.

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