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The crushing tension of Rainbow Six: Siege at E3 2015

Aggressive AI makes Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege's Terrorist Hunt mode consistently dramatic.

Rainbow Six: Siege is a game that represents some trouble for a writer, for no matter what colorful words I may put to the page, I can never quite depict the tension of an actual match. If you've been paying attention, you know this isn't exactly the Rainbow Six you've played before -- the vibrant single-player settings of Vegas, the clan-based competition of Rogue Spear, and the political plotting of Raven Shield have been set aside in favor of tight tactical combat in which success feels like it hinges on every step, every action, and every shot. But Terrorist Hunt? That's a memory Ubisoft is keen to spark once again in the newest Rainbow Six.

I've been subjected to Siege's tension before -- at E3 2014, to be exact -- and if you've participated in the game's closed alpha test, it's possible you have experienced the crazed escalation of such a match firsthand. E3 2015 marks the first time I've seen the Terrorist Hunt mode in action, however, which pits one combatant (or a group of them) against a team of AI terrorists intent on setting off bombs in a tactically vital location such as a consulate. I played three matches in all, and if there is one thing I was consistently impressed with, it was the flexibility with which we the attacking team had in breaching the structure. Skylights, windows, and regular old doors provided entry points, but also provided the defending AI terrorists plenty of sightlines and choke points. And, as we've mentioned in our previous coverage of Rainbow Six: Siege, defending teams can erect defensive barricades and place other obstacles, such as clumps of barbed-wire, that further hinder the attackers' progress.

In one case, this meant putting our rappel lines to good use and scaling to advantageous positions. Depending on the loadout you choose at the outset of the match, you may possess some helpful hardware for penetrating boarded windows. One of our teammates placed a breaching charge against a blocked window and blew an opening for us. The remaining four of us then rappelled up the wall and entered the room through the window. From here, we maintained a careful pace, even as gunfire began to emanate from the doorway directly ahead. It was Fuze, our leader, who was keeping the heat off of us, thanks to the ballistic shield he wielded. It might have been early in the match, but the AI was already proving a formidable adversary; the smoke grenade one terrorist threw had clouded the entire area around the doorway, making it difficult to identify both friend and foe. I was fortunate to get a bead on a baddie as he stepped away from the dissipating smoke, and ended him with a single shot to the head.

From here, we cautiously slipped up the stairs and encountered a more difficult obstacle: a reinforced door surrounded by barbed wire. Our enemies had flanked us, and one of them tossed a flashbang, temporarily blinding me. I knew better than to fire blindly; friendly fire is no joke in Rainbow Six: Siege. But once I gathered my wits, I was able to down another terrorist and defend the bomb defuser, which a teammate had just activated.


And thus began the true test of resolve. The roles had reversed, and we were no longer hunting our foes, but striving to keep that defuser untouched. My comrades and I shuffled about and checked our sixes, familiarizing yourselves with every possible entry point. But this is Rainbow Six: Siege, so you cannot worry just about doorways and windows, but about boards that might be breached and torn away by the newly aggressive AI. Alas, we were not clever enough to save the consulate; the defuser was successful, but all five of us were slaughtered before we could make a move on the second bomb.

For our next match, we selected a more direct point of entry, breaching a door and infiltrating a hallway where boarded windows quickly became gaping portals into the next room, and shots rang out so loudly that I could barely hear the calls of my teammates. We survived this first challenge, thanks to a few frag grenades and communicative allies, and stepped over the remaining bodies to place the bomb defuser. And once again, the most decisive minute in a Terrorist Hunt match began, and my teammates and I covered every possible angle as terrorists poured in from every nook and cranny.


Miraculously, we survived, even though the overwhelming amount of debris flying throughout the room had convinced me that we were sure to fail. That left one more bomb to defuse, and so we initiated the measured crawl toward our second goal. The five of us chose to split up, two of us monitoring the direct entrance, which was protected by a clump of barbed wire, while the other three made their way upstairs, then back down to a secondary entrance. It was a successful strategy: my closest teammate and I fended off the few terrorists that tried to make a move, and our comrades moved into the room through the second entrance, slashing away the barbed wire that filled the area.

I decided to amp up the aggression, and slinked quickly from door to door, downing every baddie that dared to enter my line of sight, all while the incessant beeping reminded me that the bomb has yet to be neutered. The excellent AI put up a struggle, of course, but team Raven Shield defused the bomb and won the match, leaving me to gloat for leading the team in kills, though not in total points earned. It may not have been my greatest shooter moment ever, but in a game as consistently nail-biting as Rainbow Six: Siege, every one of those killed felt earned. And when the game is released to the public on October 13, I look forward to earning even more.