Experiencing a roller coaster of fan and critic reception, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege was initially released in 2015 to somewhat positive reviews. Only a year before it had stolen the show at the Games Critics Awards, winning Best PC Game and being nominated for Best of Show, Best Action Game, and Best Multiplayer Game.
The latter would come to define Siege, as there was no singleplayer option beyond a few solo missions were available. Yet this also led to the title's downfall in popularity. Although Siege reviews were "generally favorable," according to Metacritic, the seedy microtransactions and shotty gameplay mechanics warranted a bevy of typical gamer backlash.
Grounded in an original plot that follows counter-terrorism techniques, the game emphasizes defensive and offensive combatants, utilizing destructible environments, tactical maneuverability and team-based cooperation. Whereas other games poured their resources into making large maps, Ubisoft decided to keep the locales denser and more compact, supporting the game's premise. This wasn't Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto, this was Rainbow Six Siege, a title meant to stand out from the crowd.
At first, Siege didn't garner a large enough player base. A toxic community, little to no content, and repetitive gameplay all added to the reality that Siege wasn't going to outlast its rivals.
One of the few things Ubisoft did right, however, was to ensure the game's smooth recovery by listening to the player base. Ubisoft even went so far as to open the door for Chinese audiences, bowing to the country's strict censorship policies. In turn, this move led to its own round of backlash. As Joe Parlock writes in his article on Forbes describing the nature of the changes and the issues that arose from them:
"The most obvious example of this was in the Club House map, as the removal of slot machines with nothing added in their place also removed a popular spot for hiding drones and gadgets, radically changing the meta of that map."
Despite these so-called "aesthetic changes," the community still rallied behind the game. It also showed that Ubisoft was listening, a welcome change from the actions of most publishers at the time.
As they wrote in a 2018 blog post concerning the eventual rollback of these alterations:
"We have been following the conversation with our community closely over the past couple of weeks, alongside regular discussions with our internal Ubisoft team, and we want to ensure that the experience for all our players, especially those that have been with us from the beginning, remains as true to the original artistic intent as possible."
Constant and meticulous updates also gave the game more depth post-launch. Development didn't stop when the players leaped into the game on December 1 of 2015 — in fact, it had only just begun. Ubisoft's website detailed massive new additions and DLC content that would allow for more dynamic multiplayer matches. While DLCs themselves wouldn't cost a thing, nor would various new maps, the in-game operators (or characters) could be unlocked by either grinding for long hours or simply paying for them. Ubisoft continues to update the game to this day. In fact, the game saw record traffic in June due to the addition of Operation Phantom Sight.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again...— Rainbow Six Siege (@Rainbow6Game) September 6, 2019
We are here to stay.
Thank you for 50 Million players! pic.twitter.com/9IpTFlFARL
Now with its own esports pro league and YouTube channel, it's clear that Rainbow Six Siege is here for the long haul. Ubisoft may not have delivered upon launch, but over time the team worked to rectify certain aspects of the game while also enhancing the simple things. For example, the Ubisoft made adjustments to sound design and gameplay mechanics, which all worked poorly from the beginning.
Ubisoft has even worked diligently to rid online matches of cheaters, modders and the all-around toxic gamers, who had infested the game for some time. Very few publishers these days go to such lengths to stamp out toxic behavior online. Ubisoft's activities are a refreshing change of pace.
By not giving up and allowing for the title to mature in its own right, Ubisoft eventually bred Siege into one of the best Rainbow Six games. It may not have beaten out its competitors like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto in terms of critical acclaim. But, it showed that a vocal community alongside a valiant and willing gaming publisher could lead to a steady player base in the multi-millions.
Competitive modes and subsequent additions continue to pave the way for the franchise as a whole. In the end, Ubisoft proved that success doesn't come instantaneously. It's gradual.
Since the developers have harkened on the fact that they don't want to make a sequel, fans have only one option to relinquish that thirst for more Tom Clancy action: Siege. With the frequent addition of all-new modes, diversified maps and operators, the game still breathes with a fiery intensity. For proof, just look to its most recent Ember Rise addition, which requires only 6 GB in storage.
While others may be happy playing those simpler titles, like GTA and COD, Siege gamers enjoy far more tactical and cooperative gameplay with strategic elements for every map. This is what separates the title from all the rest.
Get those armored vests on and C4 charges primed because Siege isn't going anywhere for quite some time.