Rainbow Six And The Need For Betas

As anyone with a vested interest in video games, particularly first person shooters, will know, this weekend marked the launch of the Rainbow Six Siege closed beta test on all platforms.  I nabbed myself a guaranteed access code without the inherent risk of pre-ordering a Ubisoft game since they’re one of the main developers/publishers that has pretty much run out of goodwill by this point, so in between work and other commitments I’ve managed to put around about ten hours into the beta so far.  Thankfully, due to issues with the beta access website, Ubisoft have now committed to keeping the beta running all the way to October 1st.  Good job.  This game needs as much technical testing and assistance as it can get before its December launch date.  It adds further weight to the fact that beta tests are a full on requirement with multiplayer games these days and it adds fuel to the already sizeable fire that publishers are rushing developers into getting games out the gate well before they’re ready.

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It’s funny because from a gameplay stand point, the game feels pretty much done.  There are a few things that need balancing, which a beta is great for.  Operators using the riot shield with a pistol are a tough challenge, while they’re stood upright you can shoot out their legs but while crouched and moving forward there isn’t a single operator that can counter them in a one on one fight.  The hip fired pistols are also way, way too accurate and pulling headshots, which are a one shot kill regardless of weapon, is much too easy.  Granted, there’s a certain feeling of baddassery by sauntering into a room and pulling three straight headshots but at the same time, it feels a little cheap and dirty.

The MP5 could probably do with a bit of balancing too, the recoil is so minor that even while unloading a full mag down a corridor, it’s practically laser beam accurate.  It requires minor balancing tweaks here and there but on the whole it almost seems to be there, the real issue I’ve had is with stability.

For reference I’m playing on Xbox One.

Now, it would appear the game doesn’t run on dedicated servers, but rather uses a player as host.  I’ve had a couple of situations where a host has either left or lost connection and then you get that little “migrating to new host” message.  It seems a little backwards, we’re in 2015 and a time where Microsoft is really working on this whole cloud based gaming, which certainly has its merits.  The main this is though is Ubisoft are not a small time publisher, there is no way dedicated servers would be decided against for monetary reasons which means they either made this decision thinking it was a good idea (please) or Ubisoft don’t have faith this game will succeed.

Finding a game can be an absolute nightmare too, it frequently takes me at least five minutes to get added into a squad which is appalling, I’ve had situations where it won’t even find me a game unless I drop out of the search and back in two or three times.  Then there are the multiple times I’ve been added to a squad only to be met with an error code, where the game then proceeds to drop me back to the main menu screen.  It’s wildly frustrating.

But it’s not just the sometimes crippling network issues that hound the beta, but actual game stability has been an issue for me on Xbox One too.  At most I can play four or five games in a row at the moment before I either lose connection or the game fully crashes to the home screen.  Sometimes the game won’t even open when selected from the Xbox home screen.  Frankly, if the game launched like this, retailers would need to be preparing to make concessions for a large amount of refunds, I would not accept a game in the state at all.  And this, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely why beta tests should be mandatory for all multiplayer games.  I actually think the game, when it works, is a lot of fun.  Will I pre-order it?  Nope.  Will I buy it day one?  More than likely not.  Fortunately, the game will be going through an open beta test before launch too so it can be stress tested with a larger audience before it’s fully released, but they’re beta testing a game a little over two months away from launch and, frankly, I’m not entirely convinced they’ve left themselves enough time to fix some of the more serious issues and problems that need addressing here to make the game fully playable.

With a lack of dedicated single player campaign, a fundamentally flawed and outdated host system instead of dedicated servers, serious game stability issues and a game engine that looks to be more at home on the 360 than the One Rainbow Six Siege finds itself in the unenviable position of facing a rather steep uphill climb with a relatively short amount of time in which to do it before launch.  Will they manage it?  I couldn’t say for sure, but with the news of the omission of a proper campaign and my first impressions from the beta, this looks like a £20 purchase in a few months, which is a real shame.

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