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Rainbow Six: Siege: Hands-on with the most exciting game of E3 2014

Hayden Dingman | June 19, 2014
"Okay, so uh, let go of the button and you'll place a breaching charge." I dutifully do what I'm told by the watching-over-my-shoulder developer, lurking during my E3 hands-on with Rainbox Six: Siege. The breaching charge takes about five seconds to affix--an eternity as I hang from a grappling hook on the side of the house, completely exposed.

Lights, camera...

Action Phase is basically a fancy term for "Now you get to shoot people." I'm going to go ahead and say that Rainbow Six features an unprecedented amount of environment destruction. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 came close, since you could destroy entire houses with ease, but it was always a robotic sort of destruction — the chunks were so large, you could always tell which pieces you'd blown up.

Siege's focus on small, contained environments is a two-fold boon: It allows for near-constant action, even with a relatively small 5 versus 5 team structure, and it lets levels get beat to hell in progressively smaller chunks.

When you're no longer limited to doors and windows for entry, your options go up ten-fold. In one match, for instance, the terrorists hid the hostage in the basement. We sent two players down the stairs into the basement and had them draw fire. The rest of us waited on the floor above the terrorists until they were engaged, then blew a hole in the basement ceiling and jumped down behind. Chaos. Wonderful chaos.

You end up in an explosive game of chess, where terrorists are trying to anticipate how the attackers will breach the house and set up defenses accordingly. Are they going to come through the bedroom wall? Reinforce the wall so the attempt is met with cold metal. Will they try to shoot through the bedroom windows instead? Put up shields facing that direction so you'll have some cover.

And though our team was made up of a bunch of newcomers, there's plenty of space for high-level play. We watched the developers play for a few rounds, and the tactics they used were even more intimidating — shooting holes in the wall, for instance, so they could watch the other team walk up the stairs. We're so trained by decades of games without these features, it's easy to forget. We lost one round because an enemy took cover behind a wall, and rather than just shooting through it our teammate ran past the wall to try and shoot.

Rainbow Six: Siege is the first game I've seen make use of next-gen tech to enhance game mechanics, not just graphics, and for that it immediately became my favorite game at this year's E3. There's plenty that could go wrong — generic-feeling levels, exploitive tactics, toxic community, or an enormous skill barrier preventing new players from getting accustomed to the game are but a few examples of potential road bumps for the game.

As a demo, though? Rainbow Six: Siege is already a stunning testament to what can be done now that developers are unshackled from the restraints of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

 

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