Rainbow Six started its roots as a tactical PC shooter, evolving through the years but still keeping to its roots to deliver a true Rainbow Six experience. We take a look back through the all Xbox releases and reminise on great memories right through to the most current release of Rainbow Six Siege.
The day arrived when my dad came home from work with the first original Xbox combined with a selection of 6 games, one of which was Rainbow Six 3, a game which for me defined Rainbow Six as a franchise. Hostage rescue with high stakes and team based co-ordination, an element you can even still see in today’s release of Rainbow Six Siege.
Releasing back in 2003, there were noticeable changes between the PC Raven Shield release and the console Rainbow Six 3 release, one being multiplayer maps available, as there were exclusive maps for both PC and Xbox. Secondly was the limited ability to control AI team mates in the single player. Xbox Live was a growing online subscription and the ability to use a headset was adopted to issue voice commands to your AI team mates such as flash and clear often misheard as frag and clear. Not ideal with a hostage in the room!
“If you look at the gameplay of Siege, you can see glimpses of its roots to this slow and planned gameplay.”
Multiplayer was fairly basic and took a tactical shooter approach similar to Counter Strike: Source. It was slow and planned with limited modes available until its sequel Black Arrow. If you look at the gameplay of Siege, you can see glimpses of its roots to this slow and planned gameplay with the recon round prior to the attack, which gives you time to find the bomb or hostage and scout out enemy traps and locations.
Black Arrow really saw the eSports scene kick off. It was quicker in pace and built upon the foundations laid out by Rainbow Six 3. In terms of multiplayer, this was the pinacle tactical shooter on the Original Xbox. I loved the community and made some valuable friendships off the back of Black Arrow, which were unforgettable.
In 2005, attempting to build upon that multiplayer experience came Rainbow Six 3: Lockdown. The game is probably one of the more averagely scored on Xbox, but across all platforms scored the best on Metacritic for its Persistent Elite Creation (PEC), which is an online character creator you can use across all online matches. As you progress you earn more levels.
There were four paths to choose from: the commando, combat medic, engineer, and spec-op, with varying abilities to each. Levelling up further also unlocked new weapons and items by completing goals. It was the start of something, but the weapons tied to goals was judged as unbalanced by players, who couldn’t commit the time to doing challenges.
Despite a poor reception it was the launch of Rainbow Six Vegas that put the franchise back on track. Providing character creator, a wide selection of maps, clever cover system and tactical gadgets. One of the most memorable levels was Calypso Casino, rappelling down the building entering the side window to engage in an all out firefight in the slot machine room. Change was flying everywhere! Overall, the game just felt like it was at its most tactical in a long time. Timed entries were key to getting the flank, whilst defending entry points was key to winning rounds.
The title’s Terrorist Hunt mode was also met with popularity, as it pitches you on the game’s maps fighting off terrorists who are randomly stationed around the map waiting for you to attack. When it got down to the last enemy it was always so nervewracking and often led to some silly decision making.
How could Ubisoft possibly top that off? Rainbow Six Vegas 2 was the glimmer of hope they had and it offered very similar gameplay to its sequel, including the addition of sprint. Competitively the game lacked those iconic maps for tactical gameplay and it felt like the game had gone for a more general FPS feel than being a tactical shooter. Sadly I never rated Vegas 2 quite as highly as the first Vegas title. Map design was stronger on the original title and competitive play felt more enjoyable and rewarding if you played your tactics better than the opposing team. Vegas 2 was more of an “out shoot your opponent” style of game.
From Vegas to Patriots, the canned project by Ubisoft. Initially announced in 2011, the title was set in New York city, with the Rainbow team tasked with dealing with a terrorist group called True Patriots. There was very little shown of the actual game apart from a concept style gameplay trailer. Many were worried it was in danger of being canned and after creative director David Sears, narrative director Richard Rouse III, lead designer Philippe Therien and animation director Brent George were all removed from the development team, it seemed inevitable.
June 2014 confirmed this news, Patriots was a closed project, opening up the new project of Rainbow Six Siege, which puts emphasis on tactical gameplay and working as a team.
The game’s eSports scene has never been as big as Siege, with a seasonal tournament played around the world involving some of the biggest and best teams on the game. The growth of livestreaming has also helped to see the franchise grow even further, with many tuning in to watch competitive matches as well as future DLC often revealed during these events. This is clearly a game aimed at competitive multiplayer, although I still have an empty spot inside for another Vegas-like title. Featuring a gripping story, character creator and the option to play however you want without Operators. Will we ever see it?
Probably not, sadly in a while anyway. It seems Siege is the franchise’s winning formula with thousands tuning in to watch competitive matches and the game regularly updated with new maps and Operators to try out. The attack and defend style of gameplay is as addictive as ever, but calls out for more story driven content for any future titles in the Siege branch.
Share your Rainbow Six franchise memories with us in the comments down below. What was your favourite R6 title?