First published in 1998, Tom Clancy’s counter-terrorism thriller, Rainbow Six, provided the grist for what would become the author’s best-known action video game series. The first game, also released in 1998, was unlike most other military-themed simulations of the time. Seven years on from the last Rainbow Six game, Ubisoft Montreal is hoping to revitalise the series, which has outlived not only the novel but also its author. Siege has been in development since January 2013 (nine months prior to Clancy’s death) developed exclusively at Ubisoft Montreal with a team of around 350. It’s a sizeable project, then, and one that aims to maintain the close quarters combat that defines classic Rainbow Six albeit within a new context: a multiplayer-focused, five-versus-five, asymmetrical team game.


Two teams compete for the best of four matches. The Defenders hole up in a room to protect a hostage. The Attackers, meanwhile, must either free the hostage or eliminate every member of the defending team for the win. Operatives have just one life apiece, and will die with a single well-placed bullet (it’s possible to stem the bleeding from a wound and drag your body across the floor to somewhere a willing teammate can revive you, but it’s rare to survive even the most glancing hit). Before each skirmish there’s a brief set-up and planning phase. During this time, which lasts for around 30 seconds, each member of the attacking team (who start the game in one of a number of different spots outside the terrorist’s indoor location) is able to drive a remote controlled car with a mounted camera on its bonnet around the stage. They must frantically search for the location of the hostage, knowledge that, if gained, will provide a significant advantage in the ensuing live match.

The hostage-takers (whose position on the map changes with each new round) use the time instead to fortify their position, setting up barriers, barricading doors and even buttressing walls to prevent the opposing team from blasting peepholes through them. They might choose to barricade a different doorway to the one that leads to the hostage as a red herring for the searching cars (it’s even possible for a hapless player to cordon himself inside the wrong room entirely, forcing a break-out).

If at any time the defenders spot one of the opposing team’s RC cars pootling about during this set-up phase, it can be shot and destroyed. Hunting out the cars is a worthwhile task as, if the attackers can position their car under a bed or table, they can use it as a live camera feed once the match proper begins. The fewer the number of RC cars in the field, the less information the attackers can access. This planning phase is a smart addition that adds a different rhythm and texture to the action, one that illustrates the team’s concerted e”  ort to extract the essence of Rainbow Six.

The game’s engine has been adapted with destructible environments in mind; it employs Ubisoft Montreal’s so-called ‘Realblast destruction’ technology. This allows walls, ceilings, and barricades to crumple and crumble with unprecedented authenticity. Fire a few rounds into a dividing wall, for example, and you’ll rip a hole through the other side, exposing the studs and sheathing. Thwack a wooden barricade with a sledgehammer and the planks will splinter and crack in natural ways. Different weapons apply different effects on the environment, depending on their proximity to the material they’re aimed towards.

Likewise, a shot fired from a distance will produce a smaller hole than one fired at close-range. Aim your gun at the floor and, rather than blasting a generic hole in a graphical texture, you’ll be targeting an individual floorboard, allowing you to create precise lines of sight between spaces. Likewise, the player’s relationship to the architecture has also changed thanks to the technology on which it stands. No longer are you confined to breaching doors and windows in search of a route to your target. Now every surface has the potential to offer a tactical opening, providing, of course, that you have the correct tool for the job.