Join us as we discuss the trials of novel multiplayer concepts and Rainbow Six: Siege.
Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six: Siege has recently begun closed alpha testing, which means plenty of multiplayer footage has emerged from the game. If you were intrigued by the trailer showcased at E3 2014, then you’ll be happy to hear that Rainbow Six: Siege is very much traversing in that direction. While one side will be in charge of rescuing a hostage in certain situations, the other side must assault their location and capture the hostage. It’s interesting in most parts because not only does it offer the defending side a chance to make use of multiple fortifications and the like but the attacking side is capable of numerous strategies to steal the hostage.
Then there’s the large number of variables on hand, including gadgets like drones with cameras, destructible environments and much more. The focus on short and intense sessions over long protracted “matches” is also a unique hook. And there’s also the fact that you’re out of the so-called Siege session when you die once.
However, on looking at Rainbow Six: Siege, even at this early stage, we can’t resist saying this but, that’s it?
"However, on looking at Rainbow Six: Siege, even at this early stage, our somewhat tempered response of "that's it?" doesn't feel uncalled for."
Not to throw mud at all the work that Ubisoft has put into the game of course and keep in mind that this isn’t the first multiplayer-focused tactical shooter ever made. Counter Strike is still going strong and unlike that game, Siege will feature a single-player campaign to keep offline fans interested.
But on closer observation, the direction of Siege reminds us of two other multiplayer-focused titles in recent memory: Titanfall and Evolve.
Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall was always-online and always focused on matching you up against other players, even in the story mode. It wasn’t the mechanics or the gameplay that players found fault with – though there quite the number of complaints regarding repetition. It was the fact that Titanfall’s amazing world, its fresh settings, the sheer change of pace with the Titans and galactic scale of conflict were let down by what was a barebones single-player campaign.
Forget cut-scenes and narrative story-telling, the campaign mode could be completed in an hour or two and didn’t really offer by way of character introduction/development/progression when it was all said and done. The multiplayer may have been amazing but even that was bogged down by a somewhat middling number of modes, map packs that served to fracture the community and minimalistic weapon/Titan selection. Respawn did make a solid effort to appease fans with several new modes down the line including a Horde-esque Frontier Defense mode but active player counts are still woefully low.
Turtle Rock Studios’ Evolve, on the other hand, made an attempt to merge the squad-based play of Left4Dead with competitive multiplayer. The overall mechanics were also pretty intriguing, though the final result had its rough edges (especially in the balancing of certain Monsters and weapons), and it seemed to offer a stronger campaign mode compared to Titanfall.
"Looking at Rainbow Six: Siege, it's easy to become enamoured by the game's mechanics because frankly, it's usually not the mechanics of such games which are the problem (at first)."
Unfortunately, its campaign was yet another attempt to push the PvP aspects of the game on to players. Evacuation mode was little more than five rounds with AI bots rather than a proper story of sorts. It didn’t help that the competitive multiplayer was rife with matchmaking issues, balance issues, network issues, more balance issues and a limited map selection. For all the fun Evolve presented, it was ultimately bogged down by the focus on its novel concept rather than on the execution of said concept. The controversy surrounding the DLC only amplified the disdain among consumers.
For all of their faults, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Battlefield: Hardline try to offer compelling single-player modes to complement their multiplayer. Though Titanfall was, in one’s own experience, superior in gameplay to either title, it just lacked a fresh amount of “stuff” to do in it, at least from the start. The same sadly goes for Evolve whose bread and butter looked to be Evacuation mode for those tired of PvP.
Looking at Rainbow Six: Siege, it’s easy to become enamoured by the game’s mechanics because frankly, it’s usually not the mechanics of such games which are the problem (at first). The concept itself is always interesting but it seems developers of multiplayer-focused games are leaning way too much on the uniqueness of said concept versus all the different modes and scenarios it can create with it. And it’s not like Counter Strike which became the de facto multiplayer FPS by pure virtue of its tactical gameplay. Counter Strike has been around for a long time and all throughout, Valve has made significant efforts to keep it fresh and addictive for both new players and long time veterans.
Make no mistake – we’re still excited to see what Rainbow Six: Siege can deliver in terms of multiplayer fun. However, we’ll also be watching carefully to see just how much mileage it can provide compared to its compatriots in the long run. While a polished single-player campaign may not net Call of Duty-level sales, it could go a long way towards rounding out the game’s overall value, especially if the multiplayer concept caters to a more niche crowd.