Rainbow Six Siege is tactical fun, in multiplayer
2015, the year in games: Rainbow Six Siege, Fallout 4.
To say the video game industry hasn’t always been a model of inclusion and diversity is a bit like noticing that the sea’s wet or that Jeremy Hunt needs to be lowered quietly into a septic tank; it’s so blindingly obvious it’s hardly worthy of comment. Without a campaign to devote assets and time to, the development team was able to nearly perfect its classic game modes, while introducing a few new ones. The game’s main multiplayer mode is made up of five-versus-five game types, as players communicate to either break in and rescue hostages or work to keep the good guys out (i.e., you’re the bad guy, sorry). The complex is swarming with enemies — one of whom is wearing an explosive vest — but I’ve equipped a silenced pistol and sniper rifle to ensure a peachy outcome. My next move must be thoroughly thought through, and my strategy will either result in the hostage remaining in one piece, or leaving this facility in multiple.
A survey of the industry taken around the same time found that just 22% of game developers were women; that’s double the number in 2009 thanks to more open recruitment practices, but still tragically low. Players can pay a bit of real cash in exchange for progress boosters, which help in unlocking Operators, Siege’s focal point in multiplayer progression. Even in traditional boys-y bastions such as Rainbow Six Siege, there are female special forces operators every bit as effective at blowing holes in walls, floors and terrorists as their male counterparts. The Operators come from military backgrounds from around the world, including British SAS, FBI, SWAT, Spetsnaz and more, and they sport a cool cinematic each time you unlock one.
In Fallout 4, one of the year’s highest-profile titles, the sole survivor of the nuclear apocalypse can not only be a man or a woman, but also gay, straight, or robo-sexual (for those interested in stretching diversity in new and potentially painful directions). Whether you’re saving a hostage, locating and disarming a bomb or simply eliminating the enemy, each objective is situated within small areas that can be tackled from multiple angles. Greater sophistication is emerging in other areas of gaming too, as technology frees the medium from having to limit character interactions to those involving live ammunition. You can blow holes in floors or walls with charges, peek around corners and chip bits of the foundation with your shots and get into every nook and cranny of the game world.
Instead, it had time to explore protagonists’ friendships and motivations in more nuanced ways and with far more pronounced consequences to your words and actions. And all of these modes have plenty of depth to them, which is peculiar considering other multiplayer-only releases this year have been lacking in content (see: Star Wars Battlefront). Consisting of 11 self-contained levels, each one houses three secondary objectives and will allow you to refine and improve your skills before battling against online opponents. Indie studio The Chinese Room made its reputation with PC games such as Dear Esther, in which you explored a craggy Hebridean island while listening to a man read letters he’d written to his dead wife, and Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs, a dark and atmospheric survival horror. It’s nothing too deep, but these Situations (there are 11 of them) help you learn your way around the game itself, a glorified tutorial if anything.
A thoroughly English take on the end of the world – casting you as the last person left in a Shropshire village, and possibly the world – its 80s ephemera and perfectly pitched voice-acting made its mysteries a singular pleasure to unravel. Likewise, Psyonix’s Rocket League, sold on the unprepossessing-sounding premise “football with cars”, has become a runaway hit that will no doubt spawn imitators and big-budget sequels. Meanwhile the most anticipated title of 2016 is Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky, a game that lets you explore the entire universe, made by a small team in Guildford. There’s a long way to go, but the days of video games as an exclusive club for simulated gun-toting adolescent boys are finally on their way round the U-bend of history. Its game modes look lacking and there’s is no real campaign, the gunplay is fairly basic and the multiplayer seems bare-bones, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
Going in for the kill will begin via a remote controlled drone, letting you scout out the surrounding area in an attempt to locate your objective; finding a chemical bomb or the whereabouts of a hostage, for instance. By the time the round officially starts, the opposition will have either located you with their drones or, if you’re lucky, will have to go in blind. There are 4 members to each of the 5 squads available, each of which are based on actual counter terrorist organisations; the SAS, FBI, Spetsnaz, GSG 9 and GIGN.
You must unlock operators via using credits gained after completing missions (known in-game as Renown), so taking your time to learn about each units’ members will help provide an informed decision on who might suit you best. I had a great time feeling a little safer behind some cover, but relished an opportunity to get the jump on unsuspecting enemies with my explosive charges. The amount of variety given by selecting different operators was great, especially when faced with the unrestricted nature of each mission and its environment. Terrorist Hunt is a good alternative and can be played solo, but the fact you must still remain online even when doing so, didn’t rest well with me. While the lack of a single-player campaign is frustrating and some online-only aspects anger me, ultimately there’s a ton of fun to be had with friends whilst you discuss tactics and form the best counter terrorist unit known to mankind.
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