LOS ANGELES — Ubisoft has unveiled that one of its next major games will be Rainbow Six: Siege, a video game that pits special forces soldiers against terrorists in close-combat, breach-and-clear operations such as hostage rescues. Here’s some details that the company didn’t talk about at its press conference today.
The game will surprise close followers of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six counter-terrorism shooter franchise. That’s because Ubisoft has acknowledged that it has formally canceled Rainbow Six: Patriots and rebooted its efforts to make a next-generation console game. The company made the announcement at its press conference for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the big trade show in Los Angeles. But we got details from the development leaders at press event. The game will come out in 2015.
Rainbow Six: Patriots got caught in the middle as an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game that was well under way when the next-generation console development cycle was ramping up. Ubisoft announced Patriots in 2011, but then never talked much about it. Patriots was being made for the older machines, and Ubisoft decided to reboot the whole effort. It started a new team 18 months ago to make Siege.
“We rebooted the game, and we are explaining why we did that,” said Alexandre Remy, brand director at Ubisoft. “This is 100 percent new and different. Patriots is not in development anymore. But hopefully this will get you more excited. We believe it was a good decision.”
“For Rainbow Six, we wanted to make something on next-generation consoles,” Remy said. “We decided to reboot the whole franchise.”
Xavier Marquis, creative director for the game, said at a press dinner that the idea for Siege came from a creative focus on the core of what makes Rainbow Six games fun. Rainbow Six refers to Tom Clancy’s name for an international special forces team that six different countries created to fight terrorists. Marquis said the core is counter-terrorism and close combat where you breach a wall or door and charge into a room where terrorists are holding hostages. Marquis said such combat goes back in time to when armies besieged castle. That’s where the name came from, but the idea has been applied to modern times.
The whole game is about “siege combat.” It has a single-player story where the breach operations get progressively more difficult. And it has multiplayer combat where one side plays the terrorists, who build up their defenses, and the other side plays the counter-terrorist team. During a preparation phase, each side tries to predict what the other will do and bolster their defenses or attack plan.
The preparation seamlessly melts into the beginning of combat as the combatants discover each other, said Alexandre Remy, brand director at Ubisoft. The multiplayer combat consists of five terrorists versus five counter-terrorist soldiers.
Marquis said the company is using a new game engine that shows off a lot of destruction of the environment. When soldiers set off a bomb to blast a whole in a wall, it explodes and rips apart the playable scene. Then soldiers can run inside and engage in first-person shooter combat.
“It’s a lot like breaching a castle,” Marquis said. “What we’re revealing is a crash course. You can use tactics like doing a breach, throwing a grenade, and then shooting.”
Breach-and-clear operations often take place in seconds. That’s also the case with multiplayer matches in the game. Once the shooting starts, a match is over in about three minutes. Once one of the characters is killed, there is no respawning. You’re dead for the whole round. A multiplayer round lasts a total of 18 minutes, with each side fighting three rounds of defense and three rounds of attack.
Defenders can set up barricades, reinforce the walls, place traps, and set up bombs. The attackers can analyze the defenses and figure out ways to get around them.
Once you die, you don’t have to sit out the match entirely. For instance, if you launch drones into the sky, you can essentially become a drone once you’ve been shot. You can see what’s happening in the battle and report back to the rest of the team what is happening.
Ubisoft has been making Rainbow Six games since 1998. Rival Electronic Arts will move into the same space with its Battlefield Hardline game, which pits SWAT teams and police against criminals.
“The fact that Battlefield is moving into the space tells us something,” Remy said. “That reinforces the fact that we are doing something that resonates.”