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Rainbow Six Siege meets Left 4 Dead in new Outbreak mode

Hands-on with Rainbow Six Siege: Outbreak, gameplay impressions, 3 new videos and screens of the evolution of Ubisoft's tactical shooter.

The fact that Rainbow Six Siege’s Outbreak mode exists in the first place is pretty amazing, because it is such a departure from what Siege is. This is almost like EA deciding to put Madden into FIFA. Then when you add in the fact this will only be available for four weeks it becomes almost unbelievable. This isn’t just some mini game that will come and go, this is almost an entirely new game, and I certainly wouldn’t complain if Ubisoft had just released it as a £20 standalone title.

In the most simplest of terms, Outbreak is pretty much what would happen if Ubisoft brought the rights to Left 4 Dead. You and two teammates try to make it through any one of the three missions, passing through areas filled with what are effectively zombies, just with a little more colour and an alien heritage.

As you pass through these levels you take on a variety of tasks such as escorting hostages, planting explosive charges and clearing the area of foes. Then when you make it to the next section of the mission you head into a little safe room and resupply, exactly like Left 4 Dead.

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Fortunately it rarely feels like you are just being thrown down a corridor full of enemies for no real reason, with the mission objectives actually making sense and having a lot of variety. Sure there are multiple times when you have to plant a charge and defend it until it detonates, but the vastly different environments you do this in makes the tasks feel very different.

Perhaps the best moment of my hands on with Outbreak came on the Junkyard mission. You are trapped inside a small junkarary area, with large chain link fences around all four sides. There is some elevated platforms to take the high ground, but for the most part you are stood on the floor, watching the hundreds of enemies scale the fence and charge right at you. Then a shout came from a teammate, who discovered you can shoot through the fence to knock them off as they are climbing, this revelation totally changed our luck, and constantly snapping onto climbing enemies only to see them fall 20 foot back back to the floor is incredibly satisfying.

While the objectives and way you play Outbreak are very different to traditional Siege, this is of course all still in the same engine, and you play with the same operators that appear in the competitive multiplayer modes, albeit with a restricted amount. This means that the actual action of shooting still feels as satisfying as ever. But with more than five foes on your screen it does take a while to get used to constantly firing and transfering from target to target, something you have rarely needed to do before in Siege.

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The list of operators at your disposal is quite large and choosing a good setup is key. Having some kind of healer, such as Doc or the new operator Finka who can offer heals and revives, is a solid strategy but be sure to pair it with ops who have good damage options. Tachanka becomes godlike in certain areas, especially if you have the coordination to have teammates watch your back as you rip through foes with the turret, while Glaz can be key to taking down bigger enemies while staying safe. Lion, the other new operator launching with the Chimera DLC, is also pretty useful, allowing you to see the positions of all enemies close to you through walls.

Coordination really is key here, on the easier of the two difficulties you could probably muddle through it with little team work for the most part. However, when it comes to the much harder Pandemic difficulty a lack of communication will see you wiped out in seconds. You’ll have to constantly be watching each other’s backs, and be ready to alert team mates if an unsuspecting Breacher, or as we called them ‘explosive hedgehogs’, an enemy type that will explode when close to you, sneaks up behind your group.

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The different enemies are actually one of the most impressive aspects of Outbreak. Instead of just putting in some run-of-the-mill human-style zombies, there is a lot of different types, all of which have unique models that must have taken days to create. The standard enemy types aren’t all that troublesome, but others such as the massive brutes that only take impactful damage from the back but will charge at you when shot or the pesky enemies that look a little like a Wizard from Destiny that will buff nearby foes and reduce your weapon’s power, can really put you in a tight spot. Others can root you in place until your or a teammate take them down, and the ever annoying explosive hedgehogs can seriously mess you up.

It was when the development team revealed all the different enemy types in the pre hands-on presentation that it started to dawn on me that this was going to be something special. Outbreak is currently scheduled to run for four weeks, which seems crazy given the amount of work that has clearly been put into it. There are three new maps, all of which are significantly larger than any of the multiplayer maps, all with unique objectives. There's the five different enemy types, all with brand new models, animation and abilities. There’s new voice acting and a story to go along with it. It really is unbelievable that this will just be a side mode for four weeks.

The smart money would be to say that Outbreak will either stick around, or find life somewhere else, perhaps as a standalone title. But on the off chance that it really is all going to be removed and never seen again after four weeks you really must jump back into Siege and play it. You will no doubt have a ton of fun, especially if you get a couple of friends to join you as you run through all three missions in one sitting, but you will also get to experience something that has clearly taken months to build, but may only be around for a few weeks. This was certainly a brave move, to invest this kind of time and resources into a project like this, but it has certainly paid off.

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