As it stands right now, Rainbow Six: Siege has a score of 78 on Metacritic. I’m going to make a case for that being a miscarriage of justice; R6 Siege is one of the best games to come out this year.
Insert the obligatory line about how everything is subjective here. But that said, I don’t think Siege has been given a fair go. I think a larger portion of the gaming population would enjoy Siege than a 78 suggests. There’s only so much time to spend on a review in this busy period, and only so much headspace as you’re trying to keep all of your GOTY lists and “trends of 2015” articles in your short-term memory, and I think Siege got lost in all of that excitement. People didn’t give enough effort to a quiet achiever that would become one of the best games of the year.
I’ll mainly talk about the PC version, but even moreso than other FPS games, it is the “real” version. That’s partly PC elitism (you console FPSers confuse and anger me), but also partly how the game is made. It’s very vertical, aiming is very quick, and distractions that involve 180 degree turns are par for the course. Aiming feels wonkier on console, and not just because it’s a controller. I’ve played it on PS4 as well, and I challenge anyone to play both versions and say different. All that said, the console versions of the game come in a bit lower on Metacritic, at 74.
Sometimes when critics pan something, I gain hope from the user reviews which rate it higher. It feels like a win for the people. Like when Roger Ebert would stick his nose up at something which would later become a classic, and people would later remind him that he just didn’t “get it” at the time. But this time, the user reviews are even lower, at 7.1. Guys, you’re killing me.
But there’s another type of vote which arguably matters more, and that’s the vote with your wallet. With the current Steam sale going on, right now R6 Siege is its third-best seller, behind GTAV and Fallout 4. Yesterday, it was in the #2 spot. Siege has had nowhere near Fallout 4 levels of advertising, so a lot of these sales are coming from word of mouth.
I think they’re responding to the fact that this is a new kind of shooter. Call of Duty and CS:GO had good years but they’re largely the same as they were years ago. Siege takes the best parts of high-level Counter-Strike play – the information wars and mind games – and fleshes it out, while keeping some potential for twitch shooters to make the difference with their aim.
Cameras, drones, gadgets and counter-gadgets will all let players know where the other team is before the shoosting begins. The mind games are intense. Information and misinformation. Distraction. Trying to create one entry point (never really possible). And the game isn’t without its amazing, shareable moments, such as being blown through the floor you were standing on and then continuing the fight.
But as with anything new, it can take some people a while to understand it. One element in particular which people might have a hard time with is the pacing. Just like a high-level CS match, sometimes it can take a while for the enemy to actually move in on you. In CS, this is a deliberate tactic to make you lose focus, though a player new to the game would think it was boring. In Siege, it can be much the same — though the round can last several minutes longer, and there’s a lot of keeping tabs on your enemy to do in that time.
One criticism I’ve heard is that the game is pay-to-win, which is absolutely not true. It’s very easy to unlock a handful of operatives right off the bat, which is all you need for a good time. You’ll have them all before long without paying a cent.
If you were thinking of giving this one a go but got turned off by its score, give it another look. I won’t say “this is the game for you”, because who can say that but you? Think hard if what you want is another CoD or CS, because this game isn’t that — it’s a step towards the slower, more cerebral side of those games. It’s that moment in a clan match when you’re trying to find the enemy and plan your attack, spread over a few minutes before the all-out craziness. It’s slower, yes — but man, it’s great when a plan comes together.