The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Rainbow Six Siege: Reflections on Steam’s Free Weekend

“What’s the plan if the opposition just starts shooting out of hand?”
“Tell Louis, two flashbangs at the front door, four more inside, and we blow in like a tornado.”
—Eddie and Ding, Rainbow Six

I had originally planned to spend most of the weekend working on various things, among them reviewing for an imminent exam and conference paper deadline, but as it would happen, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege was placed on Steam’s Free Weekend programme, which allows anyone with a Steam account to try the game out between the stipulated hours. Having seen some of my favourite YouTubers play Rainbow Six Siege, I’ve always been interested to see what the game was about; Tom Clancy’s novels are known for detailing the minute details of the more interesting gear that characters use, and during firefights, his characters move tactically and cohesively. However, I also enter knowing that, because I lacked a microphone and any familiarity, I would spend my time in Rainbow Six Siege taking on the situations (single player tutorial-like missions) and lone wolf mode on Terrorist Hunt. These rounds proved to be quite entertaining in their own right, and I accumulated enough renown to unlock three attacking and three defending operators, reaching level six after some six hours of gameplay. The most enjoyable aspect adding to Rainbow Six Siege‘s atmosphere outside of the shooting mechanics (which allow players to shoot through walls and kill anyone with a single headshot) was the set design for the levels. Each map is quite detailed and feels like a genuine location for special operations, especially Presidential Plane and Kafe Dostoyevsky. These feel like settings straight out of a Tom Clancy novel and add an extra bit of charm to Rainbow Six Siege.

Rainbow Six Siege is designed as a cooperative game and intended to be played with others: while the situations were manageable and quite fun for introducing new players to the capabilities of different classes, lone wolf terrorist hunts were brutal and unforgiving. I never did manage to beat any of the terrorist hunt games I played: over half my deaths were due to the bombers, enemies who will suicide once they close in on players. Barring a steady aim and cool head, these enemies take a ridiculous amount of damage if hit in the chest and can one-shot players: they quickly became the bane of most of my matches. Despite using my drones to check where the enemies were, after clearing a room or hallway, I would peek a corner and then explode for seemingly no reason. The bomber’s unpredictability added quite the challenge to Rainbow Six Siege, and while this aspect of the game garners mixed reactions, it’s a realistic addition to the game in reminding players that as careful as they are, all it takes is one failed check or slip of the moment to lose the objective. This aspect predominantly applies to lone wolf style games, as teams can coordinate fire and keep track of hostiles more easily. However, the game mechanics are solid: even in single player, it’s immensely satisfying to land headshots or kill an enemy through the walls, and the numerous gadgets, in conjunction with map design and destruction, encourages players to play each operator to the fullest of their capacities to help their team secure victories.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Rainbow Six Siege is perhaps yet another indicator that my hardware is aging: because of limited video memory, I was only able to run the game on medium settings (with a few tweaks here and there), but the frame rates I get are quite high. This has been the case for recent games, and from the looks of it, my machine, nearing its three-year mark, won’t even be able to run DOOM on minimum settings.


  • According to Ubisoft, the situations were designed for first-time players to become familiarised with the mechanics of Rainbow Six Siege in an environment where they could experiment with different setups and operators without worrying about being a hindrance to their teams. I’ve heard that Rainbow Six Siege players are generally friendlier than those in other communities.

  • The situations have additional objectives (such as using an operator-specific gadget a specified number of times, staying above 50 health and so on) that yield renown points when completed. Playing through just the situations, I gained enough renown to unlock several operators and weapon customisations. Here, I defend a defuser from terrorist attack in a bomb defusal situation: whereas the insertion into the building was completely tactical, after the defuser is set, waves upon waves of enemies appear.

  • The Presidential Plane is one of my favourite maps: despite the narrow, crowded spaces inside the plane, the map consists of three levels. Because Rainbow Six Siege lacks a minimap to denote where enemies are (either motion sensors as in Halo or spotting of Battlefield), players must instead rely on a combination of drones (or cameras for defenders) and communications amongst teammates to locate enemies.

  • Like Star Wars Battlefront or The Division, Rainbow Six Siege looks quite nice even on “just” medium settings. There might be nine terrorists left on the map, but here, I take a moment to look at sunbeams streaming through the aircraft windows. Besides its design, the Presidential Plane appeals to me because it reminds me of the Gulfstream G550, the Campus’ choice of aircraft for moving quickly around the world.

  • Unlike ordinary commercial aircraft, which maintain a cabin pressure of 2400 meters, the G550 maintains a cabin pressure of 1800 meters; this increases comfort and reduces jet lag. While I’m okay with long distance flights, the lower pressures do make them somewhat uncomfortable on my GI. During this situation, my G36C was equipped with the Trijicon reflex sight; I’m not a fan of the triangular dot, since it obscures the target more than any of the other optics.

  • The hostage extraction situations are somewhat tricky: while getting to the hostage usually isn’t a problem (here, I’m playing as Glaz, the resident sniper in Rainbow Six Siege), it’s the exfiltration that is difficult. Keeping one hand on the hostage means players will only have access to their sidearms, which makes getting to the extraction site challenging when there are terrorists with automatics.

  • The defense-type situations can be quite fun, requiring the player protect an asset from terrorists. While the usual reinforcement of doors with standard and steel barricades will slow down the terrorists, they’ll deploy explosives to get in. My preferred style for both defense situations was to use traps and barricades to fortify the room housing the asset, then proactively hunt down any attackers.

  • This situation was a particularly fun one: playing as IQ, I’m armed with the AUG A2 and an ACOG sight here. The ACOG is most useful for situations where players hang a ways back from the combat and can slowly pick off targets, and this map was filled with nitro cells, small explosives that are highly lethal to players. They’re most lethal when placed around corners; I died much more frequently to hidden cells, as the ones in plain sight can be destroyed harmlessly with a single shot from a primary or secondary weapon.

  • One of the things that generated quite a bit of discussion was the amount and colour of blood in Rainbow Six Siege, so I figured that no review could be complete without at least one screenshot of the ridiculous amount of blood that can result from the simple act of shooting an enemy. Besides the blood, and the hit-markers indicating a kill, the shooting in Rainbow Six Siege is highly tactile, and kills feel very rewarding.

  • Located near the banks of the Moskva River, with the Kremlin nearby, Kafe Dostoyevsky is a Russian map set during Christmas. There’s something enchanting about winter in Russia, and this map is able to capture that sense extremely well.

  • My favourite operator is probably Thermite: he’s got an armour and speed rating of two, making him very well-balanced for a wide range of missions. While Thermite comes equipped with the M1014 shotgun by default, I prefer the 556xi because of its general all-around versatility. The interior of Kafe Dostoyevsky is beautifully rendered, and definitely feels like a place where a SVR rezident could conduct espionage over ox cheek with watercress, bone marrow, and salsa as per Tom Clancy’s Threat Vector.

  • A true laser would be invisible under normal conditions, but this oversight is forgiven since this room is presumably quite dusty and because I’m running the game on medium settings, which means that any dust effects would probably not be rendered. Kapkan’s trip mines are improvised and can be easily destroyed or disabled, but are quite effective when used near an unbarricaded  entrance.

  • The 9x19SVN is a Russian submachine gun that fulfils a similar role to the MP5, dealing lower damage compared to rifles but compensating with a high mobility and rate of file. I’ve heard that the laser sight is one of the worst attachments to have in Rainbow Six Siege because it cannot be turned off, thereby giving away a player’s location in a game where stealth is paramount to victory.

  • The interior of the Chalet is ornate and would ordinarily be a fantastic winter vacation retreat after a day’s skiing. It’s set in the Courchevel ski resort in the French alps, and this last situation was quite tricky. On this mission, players take on the role of Thatcher and have access to an AR33, but the close-quarters engagements means that a holographic or red dot sight would’ve been more suitable, as opposed to the ACOG sight.

  • One of the coolest features in Rainbow Six Siege is the ability to penetrate walls and soft cover will bullets: a few rounds will punch through the wall and damage any one on the other side, and here, I nail two lucky headshot with the AR33. In online matches, players will often melee the wall to see if there’s anyone in an adjacent room, or else simply shoot through it if they know someone’s on the other side.

  • Thatcher’s EMP grenades prove to be an asset in this mission, allowing him to quickly disable nitro cells. This mission was quite tricky and it took me numerous attempts to beat it; on my first few attempts, after securing the hostage, I backtracked and walked into an endless number of terrorists.

  • The different maps in Rainbow Six Siege appear to have day and night variants, meaning that different approaches can be taken towards a match depending on whether it will be day or night. Today was the submission deadline for the latest of my conference papers, and against all odds, it seems that I managed to just make the midnight deadline. I’m quite surprised because I spent a fair portion of the weekend playing Rainbow Six Siege instead of editing the paper for errors.

  • However, the paper’s now done and sent off, and this week happens to be Poutine Week where I am, so I decided to step off campus for lunch today. This initiative is arranged as follows: participating restaurants will donate one free meal to someone in need for each poutine they sell during Poutine Week. I vaguely recall saying in an earlier post that I would visit the Vendome Café for their breakfast poutine, and that’s exactly what I did today: not only did I get a fantastic poutine out of it, but it’s also for a good cause.

  • The Vendome Café’s poutine was quite unlike any I’ve had before. In place of fries, there were breakfast hash browns topped with smoked ham, cheese, hollandaise, peppers and onions. The flavours were fantastic and very rich: I now understand why Rize and Chino starting crying  upon taking their first bite of Mocha’s bread. My eyes teared up slightly because of how good the poutine tasted, and the different elements worked well together to create a fantastic, if unconventional poutine. Back in Rainbow Six Siege, I finally beat the final situation after figuring out an alternative route that allowed me to bypass most of the terrorists appearing after securing the hostage.

  • After beating all of the situations, save the university map (which requires a team), I decided to mess around in the terrorist hunt as a lone wolf player. Of all the games I played, I failed utterly: over half my deaths were at the hands of the bombers.

  • What would happen was that I would send a drone into the building to figure out where the enemies or objectives were, then move in. However, the bombers would usually move off, and detonate their payloads right as I rounded a corner, instantly kicking my character’s ass. However, even these failed operations yield some renown, and so, I was able to unlock Fuze and Ash. Here, I’m rocking the 6P41 (i.e. the PKP Pecheneg), one of my favourite LMGs from Battlefield. While with a large ammo capacity, reload times are quite long, limiting its usefulness.

  • Thermite is an good all-around character to use for lone-wolf situations: I decided to outfit his 556xi with the holographic sight and a compensator: however, it seems that my six hours in Rainbow Six Siege was not enough to allow me to become fully familiar with the mechanics and beat a terrorist hunt match on my own.

  • Fuze also has access to the AK12, a modernised AK-47 that I’ve equipped with the Russian equivalent of the red dot sight. With a minimal housing and a clear reticule, this setup allowed me to be quite successful so as long as I did not run into any well-placed nitro cells or sneaky bombers.

  • I unlocked a handful of defenders, including Mute and Pulse, but terrorist hunt had other things in mind for me, so I never had the chance to try out Pulse’s MP7. Here, I’m running mute with the default MP5 on a defend-the-asset match and lasted for all of 30 seconds after a wall exploded beside me during the following wave.

  • The exterior of Kafe Dostoyevsky during a Russian winter’s night is a sight to behold, and here, I rappel onto the roof during an elimination mission armed with Thermite’s 556xi. I took a few moments to look around the Moscow cityscape before entering the building by means of a grapple.

  • The rappel mechanic is surprisingly fun to use, and it’s always a thrill to breach a second-floor window or get kills from above on unsuspecting enemies. The option for changing stance allows one to move differently, and the fast descent is useful for quickly dropping back to the ground from the rappel line.

  • The bank map looks similar to one of the maps from Battlefield Hardline with its cityscape: at present, while I’ve beaten the campaign to Hardline, I’ve yet to touch the multiplayer component, which I hear has a very limited number of available games (but it’s quite tempting, since the K10 Vector makes an appearance in Hardline).

  • One of the most amusing moments I’ve experienced in Rainbow Six Siege was during a bomb match, where I threw a fragmentation grenade into the room after learning from the drone that there were a handful of bad guys in there. That one grenade landed me two kills, so for me, that was my Greatest Grenade™ in Rainbow Six Siege.

  • As the hours to the free weekend wound down, I decided to take another shot at the bomb mission with Fuze and his AK-12. I managed to defuse one bomb and got 29 kills, but an untimely nitro cell killed me, ending that mission and with it, my Rainbow Six Siege experience. I subsequently returned to editing the conference paper and worked on my portfolio: that’s done, so all that’s really left this week is Wednesday’s oral exam. After that, I will look to export my simulations as a standalone project (to see if that works), finally begin working on my thesis paper again and put out the review for Aria The Avvenire.

Rainbow Six Siege‘s free weekend allowed me an opportunity to try the game out. I definitely had fun, using the drones to find objectives, then carefully entering a building to take out terrorists in very tense moments and using the operators’ different gadgets to gain the upper hand. Finishing the situations with all objectives complete was very satisfying, and similarly, as challenging as the terrorist hunt game mode was, it was similarly entertaining to make use of an operator’s loadout to see what advantages I had in a particular map. However, I’m unlikely to buy Rainbow Six Siege simply because I’m more of a solo player (more similar to TheRadBrad than LevelCap or Matimi0): I enjoy exploring game worlds and working on my own to complete objectives. I’m well aware that teamwork and cooperation is critical, but during my downtime, much as how I prefer my entertainment to not engage my thinking centres as extensively as my work would, I prefer exploring and figuring things out on my own in game worlds, given that it’s a change of pace from the real world.

2 responses to “Rainbow Six Siege: Reflections on Steam’s Free Weekend

  1. Neomo April 19, 2016 at 04:57

    It’s totally unlike me, being a fan of RPG games, but I was completely drawn to Siege. I have it for my PS4.

    I don’t play ranked as I know I’m no way as good enough, plus the game’s been around that long that hardcore players know each operator, each map and each gun inside out.

    Recently my mic broke so I’m restricted to just going on my instincts in Terrorist Hunt until I get a better one for now (will probably get an Astro, as all my past Turtle Beach mics just haven’t lasted as long as I’d hoped).


    • infinitezenith April 19, 2016 at 10:08

      After the six hours I put into Rainbow Six Siege, I found that while I could have fun, it’s similar to Counterstrike: Global Offensive in that for both games, I would probably experience it more fully if I had the means to communicate with other players and play more tactically. Barring that, I tend to count on twitch reflexes and the run-and-gun style of gameplay because my way is not tactical, foolish but also bloody hilarious whenever it works or fails big time. The death system in both games’ main game modes are meant to discourage such play, so I feel a little out of my element here. With that being said, it definitely can be a fun game; whenever I watch Matimi0 play Rainbow Six Siege, it feels like a fantastic game in which one can experience crazy things with a group of friends.


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