Yes, it’s true. I have clocked 1,000 hours into Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, and that’s just on PC. Additional hours were dedicated to the console versions of the game, yet the majority of my Siege experience was spent with a mouse and keyboard. Its reasoning doesn’t rely on just one factor; I was admittedly hooked when I first started playing it in 2018.
However, despite how addictive the gameplay might be, there eventually came a point when my interest turned sour. Once it became acidic, I knew I would turn away from it all. Why that is will be disclosed later in this piece, yet I feel it’s essential to reflect on my overall experience playing Rainbow Six Siege.
Call this a letter or, more so, a reflection; I’ll call it an extensive exposition of some thoughts that have boiled for quite some time.
Part 1: An Intro to PC Gaming
To put things into perspective, Rainbow Six Siege was one of the first games I bought after graduating from college in 2018. As a gift, I upgraded my laptop to a gaming variant, for my Microsoft Surface didn’t have the proper juice to power some of the titles I’ve wanted to experience with a mouse and keyboard. In addition to Siege, I installed PlanetSide 2, PUBG, Witcher 3, and several other games I dove into. Frankly, I was a bit late to the PC world. I grew up with consoles, handheld systems, and books, though I always admired PC gaming. It was only a matter of time until I could supply some funds to invest in a gaming laptop to take with me.
Playing Siege felt natural yet fresh after being an FPS enthusiast since the early days of Halo, DOOM, and other Rainbow Six titles. The concept of assuming the role of an operator from across the globe is pretty cool, though the all-around multiplayer presentation was new for someone who packed hours into Rainbow Six: Vegas as a kid.
The game’s former Tactical Realism mode was always my go-to: staring at the screen as I poured countless hours into defusing bombs, deploying gadgets, scoping out spawn peeks, hiding drones (in all the old familiar places), and punching holes into walls while playing as one of the many operators. Of course, everyone has their mains, and I had a few myself. I usually went with Blitz, Twitch, Jackal, Finka, and Zero when breaching defenses. To defend the bombs, I would go with Doc, Caveria, Kapkan, Mozzie, and Mute.
After college, I worked a few jobs, with one route surrounding gaming journalism. Sadly, some adjustments had to be made when the Coronavirus infected the world in 2019-2020. As such, many resorted to indoor activities when the outside seemed so scary and lifeless. Siege was on my list, and with it, I played more and more matches until I could attain Emerald status. Finding work around this time was odd, though I did manage to find some online gigs to stay busy. Still, Rainbow Six Siege felt like an outlet to distract me when the world seemed lost. It also didn’t help that Ubisoft would publish Rainbow Six Extraction (then named Rainbow Six Quarantine) around this time. Talk about good timing.
Part 2: A Slow Realization of Disappointment, Fueled by Frustration
However, among the many other multiplayer games I needlessly dive into – from the massive warzones of the Battlefield franchise to the Halo/Portal hybrid gameplay of Splitgate – Rainbow Six Siege is probably the most problematic and least rewarding. Aside from the weak range of rewards from the loot packs, much of the gameplay relies on player execution. Satisfaction is only instilled once teamwork comes wonderfully together or when an enemy goes down after getting popped from a distance. The majority of the matches I participated in contained openly antagonistic players, online individuals who are either racists, team-killing griefers, or a bit of both. In truth, I’d say 75% of my online interactions while playing Siege were in poor taste.
I could go into the mental side effects of constantly encountering modern-day Benedict Arnolds and Lokis in a video game where teamwork is heavily encouraged. Be that as it may, it’s not worth the text here. In another way of expressing it, I increasingly became furious with each passing match, knowing that they’d feature an outspoken racist player or two, maybe even the whole team.
Muting is always an option, but having it serve as a default to avoid futile toxicity feels…off. In a way, teammate communication lies within the Rainbow Six Siege DNA; its detachment would generate an entirely different Rainbow Six experience. I became so furious with the moronic expectation of running into racist players that I started writing down the usernames of these said players. At times, upon encountering these players in a future match, I would warn other players that so-and-so would be a problem, albeit this felt like a comment on social media that would ultimately be overlooked. This would only warrant results of poor progression: racism persists, warnings are neglected, and toxicity lives on.
Acceptance Will Not Be Tolerated
To shoot down any feedback that follows the lines of “Get used to it,” “It’s just a part of the online gaming experience,” or “Just ignore them,” no, it’s not an excuse. It’s ignorant, even, to start defending dated behavior like this, let alone acknowledge any of it. Trash-talking and name-calling are always part of the competitive nature of humans, yet where’s the line being drawn when racial slurs start being spat out for no logical reason?
Part 3: Mental Marathons of Doubt
When the world started to respect itself more and open the streets to the public again, my Siege hours grew to be about 600-650 hours. The late nights of playing Siege were over for me, though I would occasionally log in to play for a few hours. My frustration never dissipated during these times, but the thrill of the Siege gameplay would often distract me. In short, I loved playing Siege, yet I could always feel myself pulling away from the euphoria, match by match. Moreover, the list of banned players that Ubisoft isn’t afraid to display in the game can be disheartening. Yes, cheaters are continuously excluded from the game, yet this always seems to happen.
Introducing the Commendation system is a thoughtful inclusion to promote good sportsmanship, yet it feels too late. Or rather, it seems like something that should’ve been implemented long ago, as if the toxicity was only being handled to an extent. Even though it’s nice to be renowned as an “Esteemed” player, my interest is dead now. No matter how progressive and thoughtful the system may be, it’s not enough to deter the stress that comes with players who have racist tendencies and team-killing behaviors. Even with the Commendation system, the bigots are ready to toss slurs like it’s Reddit before the anti-harassment policies kicked in.
In truth, I’ve been wanting to express these thoughts for a while now, even before the 900-hour mark. Not much has changed since my first year playing Rainbow Six Siege. The toxicity seeps and persists, especially when it comes to Ranked. Oh man, Ranked is a volatile digital warzone where one small mistake can amount to a boulder of insults, either through text or voice chat. Ranked players treat Siege as a part of their lifelines, a vital necessity to their day-to-day activities where a loss will result in critical commentary and screams through a computer monitor.
To paint a usual Rainbow Six Siege experience, dedicate a half-hour of adrenaline-filled gameplay to either stand victorious (with a chance to obtain an Alpha Pack) or lose tremendously (complemented with a barrage of words typed by consumers enraged at a multiplayer video game). It all builds negative anticipation for someone who usually gets grouped with randoms.
Part 4: A Farewell to Frustrating Arms
In short, my extensive time with Rainbow Six Siege is ending. I enjoyed my overall experience, but only to an extent. Rushing into a building with talented players was as always thrilling as defending a site with unique gadgets and proper prep. It eventually dwindled and dissolved, perpetually fueled only by moments of simply wanting to play a game of Siege. For someone who usually goes into multiplayer games as a lone wolf, Siege is best approached with a team of dedicated first-person shooting players who know how to have a good time.
As of this writing, I’ve uninstalled Siege from my PC. It’s done, no más. I already have a small list of games that I’m looking forward to checking out. One is Breachers from developer Triangle Factory, which takes the tactical shooter formula into virtual reality. Some would say it’s just Rainbow Six Siege in VR, but I beg to differ. With this game, I get to stand and breach with other players who seem more concerned about winning a match rather than hating someone for how they may look. It’s a nice change of pace.