Three of the big five press conferences are down, with Sony and Nintendo still to come. Ubisoft just wrapped up their event, and closed with what is shaping up to be one of the coolest looking games of the show, a genuine surprise, Rainbow Six: Siege, replacing the cancelled Rainbow Six: Patriots.
Why all the attention for it? A few reasons.
First of all, it debuted not with a fancy, pre-rendered cinematic trailer (like most other new games, Ubisoft’s especially), but actual gameplay footage. There could have been some elaborately animated sequence drawn up showing a 5v5 siege of a SWAT team on a house full of criminals with a hostage, but instead Ubisoft demoed the game as its actually played. And outside of that, the visuals weren’t the focus.
Unlike its cops and robbers cousin showcased hours ago, Battlefield: Hardline, while the gameplay may have felt somewhat scripted, it didn’t seem overly choreographed. While it was obviously a bit dramatized, it wasn’t a Michael Bay action scene, and distinguished itself in other ways as well.
We hear a lot about teamwork and coordination in modern day shooters, but this is the first time in a while where you can actually see that in action. It’s an unusually intimate setting for a shooter, a single house, with the focus not on run and gun gameplay, but true coordination including breach planning, shielding, and cover fire that actually does something. Yes, Ubisoft’s staged teamchat may not be terribly realistic, but the core concept of a search and destroy shooter that feel genuinely tense and strategic is something that genre has rarely seen.
An added bonus is the obvious creativity that goes into gameplay due to a focus on destructible environments. Yes, many games have token destructible walls or set pieces now, but we saw specific chunks taken out of nearly every surface of the house in the demo, including the finale which breached the floor to take out an enemy encampment. Yes, we’ve all done something like that in a staged Call of Duty campaign mission (complete with subsequent dubstep and slow-motion), but to have that be a real-time part of gameplay? Now that’s something to be excited about.
The fact is that no amount of scripted skyscraper collapses or helicopter crashes can equal the kind of tension that comes with a game like Rainbow Six: Siege. Even just watching the action unfold as a demo was tense, something that doesn’t happen often anymore in the over-saturated shooter market. Rainbow Six: Siege impresses by making five kills feel more harrowing than a hundred in other games.
Obviously we only saw a little from the game, and everyone is rather skeptical of Ubisoft showing things that seem too good to be true in the post-Watch Dogs era, but Rainbow Six: Siege is undeniably impressive. See for yourself below: