I was not going to play Rainbow Six Siege. Reviews were above average, but I was turned off by the multiplayer-only, Counter-Strike style scenarios. Call of Duty and even Halo now have similar, high-lethality, objective-optional gamemodes like this, in the form of Search and Destroy and Breakout. I’ve never enjoyed those. They stress me out.

But then I watched a video of some dudes playing Siege, and they were having fun. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t necessarily playing competitively. They were having fun just being a team, brothers in arms, holed up in a kitchen and fighting for their lives. Rainbow Six Siege was built from the ground up, specifically for it’s gametype, and that makes it feel more appropriate than in other games. It has turned camping into a valid strategy that has equally valid counters. It features the asymmetrical tools of attackers and defenders. It throws in elements like surveillance and destruction that force you to think about more than what is in front of you.

There’s a lot going on, and it all contributes to change what could be a very small, linear environment into one with a sometimes overwhelming amount of tactical possibilities. Spending time in this environment with your friends is fun, win or lose.

 

R6S Operators

 

Rainbow Six Siege has been called the “thinking man’s shooter”, and while a more appropriate title may be the “cognitive child’s shooter”, the game has something that sets it apart from the contentious mindset of most competitive first person games these days; a sense of comradery with your teammates. Death, communication, and teamwork are important to success in almost any game, but in Rainbow Six Siege they are the game.

I’ve spent the majority of my time playing Siege’s cooperative mode, where a team of five players attack or defend against the AI. This gametype gives you the “bad-ass, trained professionals, getting the job done” feeling more so than multiplayer. And for me, the most fun to be had in Siege involves that sense of gettin’ tactical. Someone taking point while another backs them up, checking corners, moving slow, covering your six. As it just so happens, this is also the way to succeed in co-op (though not necessarily the way to get the most kills).

While defending, you have to rely on teammates to cover the zones that you can’t. Being forced to look the other way leaves an opening that can easily be taken advantage of by the enemy. There exists a kind of trust in these moments that is not found in most multiplayer games, and certainly is not forced upon you like it is in Siege. When someone gets revived, they’ll often say “thank you”, not necessarily out of obligation, but because they recognize the other player is putting themselves at risk in doing so, and they would be out for the rest of the round if allowed to bleed out. The close proximity, overwhelming odds, and the fragility of the player in Siege contribute to a unique sense of brotherhood, however digital and ephemeral it may be, that I haven’t found in any other game.

 

Rainbow Six Siege

 

Given the nature of Rainbow Six, one would think it’s players would have the resolve and maturity level not to simulate dipping their balls into other’s mouths. Play any competitive match and you’ll see that this isn’t the case. I play Halo (the birthplace of this silly action, and the only game I occasionally find it acceptable) and don’t see as much teabagging as there is in Rainbow Six Siege. I’m the kind of person who refrains from this kind of behavior on principle – but I’ll admit that it has a place as a sort of psychological warfare; an element of competition that is often overlooked and underestimated. However, I think the reasons most players teabag are almost always more base than that.

People will often rationalize this behavior by saying they do it out of a sense of outsmarting their opponent – really genuinely besting someone. That’s bullshit. That’s just how you get kills in Rainbow Six Siege. Games like Halo feature more direct engagements that take a longer time to resolve. The fights are open to twists and turns, mistakes, comebacks and even the formation of miniature rivalries that can beckon a teabag or two. But Siege doesn’t have those moments. In fact, the end-of-match killcam will usually feature the lobby’s best and most patient battling it out (read: hardly moving at all) down to the wire. These are the times when player’s should shake hands and say, “damn, good game!”, not start unzipping their pants.

But they do it anyway. People teabag in Rainbow Six Siege because there is an end of round killcam that will be broadcast to the entire lobby, because they are coming off of an adrenaline high, and because they lack restraint, respect, and a sense of sportsmanship. Perhaps ironically, the sense of comradery that players have with their team also plays into this – encouraging the spotlight victor to physically express their elation at having not failed – like a little kid at a soccer game looking back to their parents on the sideline and jumping up and down. “Did ya see that mommy!? Didja!?”

But don’t let that stop you from enjoying what Siege has to offer. If you’re down to get tactical, it offers the opportunity in spades (alongside some network connectivity issues and micro-transactions…) A single-player campaign would have been fun, but it may have caused me to miss out on the uniquely intense interactions with actual human teammates and opponents that really make this game remarkable.