Rainbow Six Siege is one of my favourite competitive shooters.
There’s something about the deliberate, tactical pace. It’s a shooter where positioning and game sense are just as important – if not more – than precision aiming.
If you hear footsteps above as some dust poofs from the ceiling, shoot into the creaking wood and you might just score a kill. Want to breach a room? Forget the door – use that window right there, or simply make a new one. In fact, Siege even gives you ways of clearing a room without entering.
The physical destruction at the core of Siege allows you to rip its levels apart, break the rules, and come in from any angle. It makes the game feel unpredictable, and the fact you only live once makes that unpredictability tense and exciting.
From the audio cues to the way blood spatter helps you zone in on a shooter’s direction – everything feels like it has been built to help you read the battlefield, to pull you into the game. It’s just a shame there’s one thing that keeps pulling me out: the players.
Siege is hell on PS4, and it’s not even Ubisoft’s fault. The developer has been trying to counter the game’s toxicity issue since day one, most recently applying instant bans to players who use racial slurs in-game.
But even with the entire lobby on mute, you can’t escape the silent screams of the morons. If you happen to be the last player alive on your team, there’s a good chance everyone will vote to kick you just so they can more quickly get back into the game.
If you manage to not get kicked and you don’t win, expect the rest of your team to take the loss out on you. Countless times I’ve had people who died at the start of a match screaming at me because I lost a 1v3 at the end. “Noob” sounds the same in every language, it turns out.
Then, when the next round begins, they murder you. Yep, if they can’t kick you, your own teammates will shoot you dead, making it less likely that they’ll win that round. Absolute muppets.
Most of this toxicity, admittedly, is restricted to Casual matches. Ranked players are far less likely to kill you on purpose, though they’ll still shout abuse at you if you don’t singlehandedly win a match.
The thing is, Casual is a place where you should be free to experiment away from the pressures of Ranked. It should be where you can learn the intricacies of each operator, but the players treat every match like you’re in the finals of an esports tournament with a million dollar prize pool.
Ubisoft said back in April that it was taking steps to address this mess. “Intentional team killing is an issue in Rainbow Six, and our current method of addressing it is being improved,” says the blog post.
“The goal is to track long term offenders across multiple games and sessions that slip through the cracks of our current team kill detection system. We cannot provide too many details on this, as it will lead to exploiting.
“These short-term changes will begin to address toxicity, but we do not plan to stop there. We are serious about tackling the issues surrounding the potential for a negative player experience, and we will share any further changes with you prior to their implementation.”
Fast-forward three months and, at least on PS4, the problem seems as bad as it ever was. It’s a shooter built around destruction, but its most destructive element, it turns out, are the players themselves.