The Rainbow Six franchise has had a hell of a ride. It's been a slow, pseudo-strategy title where players plot every squad member's movement. It took a trip to Vegas and won big as a first-person shooter. And now, it's one of the most popular games in the world right now with Siege.
But how did a game that launched with such middling reviews capture the hearts of the shooter community? And how has Siege become the template for "games as a service" in a way that other games would only dream of? And above all, is it worth jumping into right now?
Home Alone - The Game
'You're only supposed to blow the doors off!'
At its core, Rainbow Six: Siege's basic setup hasn't changed since it first launched. Players squad up as a defender or an attacker and rounds play out like a deadlier version of Home Alone.
Instead of paint pots and action figures, our defenders place traps, cameras, and reinforcements to stop enemies from getting in and defusing a bomb or rescuing a hostage.
On the other side, our wannabe "wet bandits" can tear through walls to create new sightlines, use drones to scout rooms, and attempt to punch through enemy defences. It's a constantly shifting series of tactical considerations, with the kind of lethality that means one stray bullet can make the difference.
Adding to that are the Operators. These character classes have bespoke loadouts and gadgets. Some are simple, like Ash's breaching round that tears down a wall. Others are more complex, like Melusi's trap that disorientates enemies.
All of these aspects are constantly in flux as Ubisoft Montreal tweaks weapons, gadgets, maps, and even the game's underlying systems.
Six Years, Not Out
Siege's destructible environments are a huge part of its appeal
After a fairly meagre content offering at launch, Ubisoft Montreal has added five years worth of content. Not only that, but smart additions mix up all aspects of the game. Year 5, for example, introduced a shared pool of reinforcements for defenders to use, meaning teams that have roaming defenders were not penalised by having reinforcements constrained.
Year 6 looks to continue that trend, allowing eliminated players to continue to contribute by controlling gadgets. The upcoming Crimson Heist will introduce Flores, an Operator with an explosive drone capable of tearing down defences, but it'll also introduce a new explosive sidearm to break through walls and bulletproof gadgets, buffing Attackers.
Ubisoft's commitment to the game is incredible, and players have reciprocated that investment. Fans and pros have taken ownership of the game's Operators, with the international cast of characters capturing the hearts of millions. Siege esports has never been stronger, and the game has hit 70 million players.
Fun With Guns
Then there's the game's core gunplay. Whether you're on PC or console, leaning around corners, listening for footsteps, whispering to teammates in hushed tones builds an incredible amount of tension, and finally letting the lead fly feels like the perfect release.
While the single-player options remain limited, Siege is all about the thrill of getting the drop on an online adversary.
Seeing an enemy rappel through a window right onto a beartrap dubbed a "Welcome Mat", leaving them open to attack, makes you feel like a tactical genius. Smashing through a ceiling to drop down behind an enemy team and tear through them feels incredible. With Year 5's reworks to weapon optics, everything feels snappy and deadly. It's intoxicating, and that intangible "game feel" has had me saying "just one more match" long into the night.
Siege is the kind of game that has given so much, but it has more to offer in the months and years ahead. Its laser-focused teamplay and unforgiving nature may put some off, but persevere and there are few games more rewarding, tactical, or just downright electric when everything comes together.
Rainbow Six: Siege is a must-play. It's that simple.
Reviewed on PC with time spent on Xbox.