So, steam had a free weekend a while back for Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Siege and one of my friends told me I should try it out. He had logged around 500+ hours and swore by it. At first I was sceptical as I remember it being advertised back in 2015 and I recall not being overly impressed. However, over the past two years a large amount of content, optimisation and balancing has taken place. So much so, the game has changed for the better. Now I have logged 92 hours in the past month. It’s fair to say that I am hooked.
The game, as simple as it may appear, is actually very complex with many nuances and specialist tactics to learn. This is made more challenging by the fact that new operators are released fairly regularly (5 new operators this year alone and Ubisoft aim to add 100 operators total). Siege has a class based system, sort of, but instead of choosing your abilities and customising every detail of your class there are numerous playable characters to choose from – much like Overwatch but less over the top (actually, thinking about, Tachanka is one of the most OTT characters I have ever seen). Each of these operators has a unique ability. For example, Jager has an “Active Defense System” (ADS for short) that shoots grenades in mid air stopping attackers from pushing with smokes, flash bangs and so on. However, there is a counter to this which is Thatcher’s EMP grenade which can destroy electronic equipment through walls. There are currently 33 operators in Rainbow Siege all of whom have unique abilities that can both counter, and be countered by, other operators in various ways. So, every time you join a 5 vs 5 game you have to adapt to the enemy teams chosen operators and be damn sure you know what they are capable of otherwise its game over.
It takes a long time to familiarise yourself with the game and how to ‘git gud’ as it were. And if I am being completely honest I am nowhere near that category. I can get some decent frags but when it comes to remembering the map and finding innovative tactics I’m the worst (for the layperson ‘frags’ is another way of saying ‘kills’ which can be confusing because you’d think it would mean grenades – the more you know). My current competitive rank is Gold III which is in the higher part of the ranking system which I am rather happy with. The online competitive works much like CS:GO but is based purely on how much you win not how many kills you get or how accurate you are. After completing ten qualifying games you are assigned a rank out of 20 possible tiers. To put this in perspective here is a graphic of the ranking system:
Though don’t be mistaken, I am only at this level because I play with friends so have the advantage of continuous communication and developing tactics. Moreover, most of them are close to Platinum whereas I stay in the lower end of Gold. Why am I telling you this? Well, I recently found out that Siege has a rather large competitive following and has its very own “pro-league” which has commentary and public broadcasting. At first, I’m not going to lie, I found this a bit cringe worthy. It was commentated on as if it was an intense sporting event when, in reality, it was a load of people who had too much time on their hands sitting at a computer screen. However, I stayed open minded and watched a couple of games – mainly to see the tactics they used and how different the pro-league was from the muggles I usually compete against. And, again, I am now hooked. I hate that I like it, it feels dirty somehow, but I just cannot stop. What has made this more addictive, for me, is the recent introduction of the “Blood Orchid” Season which brings with it three new shiny operators (Ying, Lesion and Ela). So now, the pro-league is using these operators for the first time and, as I mentioned before, this brings in new complex layers to the game which changes the Meta significantly.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about the first game I viewed, which was the first series (week one) featuring 1nfamy vs Excellence, but needless to say it was filled with suspense and drama. Here are the results of the match:
Round One (Map – Oregon):
1nfamy – 5
Excellence – 0
Round Two (Map – Kafe):
1nfamy – 4
Excellence – 5
Round Three (Map – Club House):
1nfamy – 5
Excellence – 4
The winner, by literally one in-game round, was 1nfamy. This must have been a crushing defeat for Excellence as they were last seasons favourites and recovered from losing every round in the first match against 1nfamy at the beginning. Below is the full video (it is very long) that shows every minute of the game. Its worth a watch if you have the time – even if you’re just curious about pro-league gaming commentary which is a very surreal experience (they take it so seriously).
But what did we learn from this experience? Well, regardless of what the commentators say, Ying should be the top pick for your wannabe ESL team (Electronic Sports League). This is because she has smokes, which compliment her ability very well, especially on defuse maps (for those who don’t know, her main ability is an electronic flash bang grenade which she is invulnerable to – they are called candelas). 1nfamy used this to their advantage. They would simply drone the objective, see it was clear, throw two smokes to obscure entry ways then throw all 3 candelas in the room and then get Ying to plant the defuser. Defenders were left totally blinded along with their view being completely obstructed. By the time the smoke had cleared and the candela had worn off all attackers had moved and were camping waiting for someone to destroy the defuser. It was refreshing to watch and showed how useful Ying can be despite what Reddit says about her. I tried this out, earlier today in fact, and the method works. Just be sure your team is on board otherwise it is very easy for a defender to hear you plant and attempt a frag even if they are blinded. Obviously, it is not impossible to counter this tactic. In fact, Jager works nicely against this as his ADS just destroys all of Ying’s grenades. That is why it is essential to have a Thatcher on board for this tactic to destroy any potential gadgets that may interfere with Ying’s ability. Also, try not to get tunnel vision. Your Ying might get caught out before you have time to attempt this strategy so you need to be prepared to rotate and try a different tactic in that scenario.
So, to anyone who thinks that Ela is OP (for the layperson OP stands for over powered) – know that the pro-league proves otherwise. Sure, Ela is great for those players who prefer to roam rather than defend the objective due to her speed and 50+ round magazine. And that is a very viable play style. However, she is less of a threat in terms of her ability – at least for the pros as her traps are easily spotted using drones and destroyed with a single bullet. Ying on the other hand has proved a very useful operator especially after the buff to the smoke grenade (smokes used to be inconsistent and be client based so the effects would seem greater to some players than others meaning people could get you through the smoke easily – now it is a solid plume of smoke).
In summary: Siege lovers or soon to be beginners, PLAY YING! The one criticism I have is her main gun, an LMG, is a bit under powered with high recoil but, then again, the pros seem to use it with great effect so what do I know. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts on siege and other classics.