I am Harry Shepherd and I find multiplayer shooters tough. I am notably lacking a particular set of skills; skills I have neglected to acquire over a long time playing videogames. I am forever hindered by sluggish aim, dead-cat-like reactions, and a predisposition to panic in stressful situations.
Obviously, in light of this, I decided it would be a good idea to try my quivering hand at Rainbow Six Siege - a tense, high-stakes shooter where breaking your cover even a fraction can lead to your sudden demise. Even better, I am over two years behind in joining this particular gaming party. Being fashionably late has long passed me by (and - I’ve checked this with my editor - being ‘fashionably bad’ isn’t a thing).
Related: everything we know about Rainbow Six Siege Outbreak.
After gingerly emerging from the wreckage that was my first few hours with Siege - with a single, solitary kill in multiplayer - it is clear that I need help. When you are faced with players who have years of experience with the 36 operators - a forthcoming major content update Rainbow Six Siege Chimera increases that to 38 - and the tactical know-how the game demands, how can new players survive, let alone compete? I turned to my teammates - who are, I am led to believe, veritable Siege sages - for help. I guess they are also probably quite anxious about addressing their Shepherd-shaped deadweight.
Harry Shepherd: So, from a scale of one to unceremoniously kicked from the team, how bad am I at Siege?
Jordan Forward: You got a kill in your first multiplayer match, which is much, much better than I did. I got a team kill on my first match. Map knowledge is the most important part of getting to grips with Rainbow Six Siege and even 500 hours in you will find a new hiding spot, breaching spots, and routes through the map. Of course, if you play a lot of first-person shooters then your aim is naturally a lot sharper, enough to compensate for poor map knowledge.
Ben Maxwell: Hello commander Shepherd. If it makes you feel any better, I’m relearning the game on PC after playing it on PS4 since launch. Everything is faster, and I have to use this weird rectangular controller with dozens of buttons on it to move around, while aiming with a separate black lump (that has yet more buttons) which isn’t even attached to the rectangle. It’s like one of those dreams where you can’t run or scream. I know I can get headshots and aces, but my map knowledge and DualShock skills just won’t translate. Yet.
Harry: It is quite the culture shock for players coming from games like Call of Duty, who will be used to getting plenty more kills per match.
Ben: It’s a jolt, yes, and there’s a daunting amount of knowledge needed to be good at it. But the depth here - and remarkably high skill ceiling - makes for a moreish game, and one of the most satisfying first-person shooter experiences available.
Jordan: Maps are always symmetrical and predictable in games like Call of Duty - less verticality, minimal destruction, not to mention large and open pathways all heap the emphasis on seconds-long gunfights rather than more considered tactics. There is also the absence of respawns in Siege, which can make it particularly tough to get into due to the long waiting times between dying and starting a fresh round.
Harry: So, if you are still finding new ways to get the most out of Siege’s maps after hundreds of hours, how long does it tend to take beginners to feel comfortable with their surroundings?
Jordan: Not that long. But there is a gulf between knowing the simple layout of each map and knowing how to exploit every last destructible surface and angle. That is what makes Siege such a rewarding experience: you are constantly learning new ways to navigate maps, new ways to mess with your enemies, and new angles.
You can streamline the process a lot by playing solo rounds of Terrorist Hunt, which will set you against bots. Rush through these as fast as possible so you get a better idea of the overall structure of the maps rather than the nitty-gritty. You can also experiment with destruction here without annoying teammates or jeopardising a round. Custom maps are also good for this as there are no threats to worry about.
Ultimately, this will all come naturally with time. There is no right way to play Siege, so adjust your personal goals accordingly and just try to get a bit better with each match.
Ben: Oh. I was going to say ‘ages, and you have no hope so give up now, Harry’. Only joking. Or am I? I am not. Or am I? No.
Harry: The Starter Editi…
Ben: I am.
Harry: Finished? The Starter Edition seems like a great way to get a taste of Siege. Is it the best version for new players?
Jordan: I certainly think it is. It makes the grind for new operators much more severe, but that forces you to learn the operators you have before acquiring new ones. You can still buy them if you desperately want one or two, so it doesn’t really lock you into a worse economy.
Harry: The sheer number of operators can feel intimidating at first. Which ones should beginners choose?
Jordan: Simplicity is your friend when it comes to picking starter operators. You want a gadget that you do not have to think too hard about before using so you can focus on map traversal and gunplay.
When it comes to attacking, Ash is a great pick thanks to her speed, slim profile, decent weapon, and her ability to destroy soft cover from range. If you are struggling to survive for long then a shield operator like Montagne will serve you well. His shield can fully extend to cover your whole body, letting you soak up enemy pressure while your squad push the objective. Other simple attacking picks are Sledge, who can destroy soft cover with a sledgehammer; Thatcher, who can throw EMP grenades that wipe out electronic devices; and Thermite, who can destroy hard cover like reinforced walls and hatches.
If you are new to Siege than your job as a defender should be to anchor the objective, which means sitting tight, holding any sightlines, and staying alive. There are two operators who are great for this: Doc,who can heal himself and others from range, and Rook,who can place armour for the whole team. These two are great as they can take a lot of damage, but also because they can attach ACOG sights to their SMGs, giving you a great view of any angles you are watching. Mute places jammers that stop enemy electronics like breaching charges from being triggered, and Jäger places gadgets that can shoot enemy projectiles like grenades out of the air - both are also good for beginners, but require some trial and error to know where best to place their gadgets.
Ben: Pay attention to how your teammates use different operators, both while you’re alive and after you’ve been killed. There are some standard strategies for every operator that will provide a solid foundation to build into more advanced plans. Bear in mind, though, that this works both ways - many players know common trap and ambush spots. The more you play, the greater understanding you’ll have of how to defy the opposition’s expectations and catch them off guard.
Harry: Alright then, what do new players need to bear in mind when it comes to gadget placement?
Jordan: This is most important on defense where you are trying to lock down a specific room. What you have to think about is ensuring the most obvious attacking options are all covered. If you are playing Mute or Bandit, that means reinforcing any soft cover and then placing your gadgets on or near those walls so that even a Thermite can’t get through them. If you are playing as a trapper operator then you have to place your traps where the enemy will not spot them. Kapkan traps should go at the very bottom of a doorway on the side your enemy is most likely to attack from (you can do this by aiming at the very bottom of the door). Frost traps go under windows and behind anything that can be vaulted over. Expect some trial and error, but make sure you pay attention to your gadgets so that you can learn what works and what doesn’t. Nobody gets these things right first time.
Ben: Don’t. Pick. Fuze. For. Hostage. Matches. Also, when placing Kapkan’s traps, think about the direction players will approach the door - don’t put the trap where it can be easily spotted on approach.
Harry: What are the best ways to help your team? In other words, how do people like me stay out of the way?
Jordan: Don’t bunch up when attacking. Siege might be a tactical game, but it isn’t a SWAT simulator: bunching up will just mean your enemies kill two of you rather than one. Also, don’t attack while rappelling. It looks flashy and can be effective, but until you know what you are doing and are aware of defensive strategies like run-outs, rappelling is a death sentence. Finally, if you are safe, be sure to use either your drones when attacking, or cameras when defending, to figure out where the enemy is. Just don’t ping with them as it will alert the spotted player.
Ben: By picking the operators Jordan suggested earlier you’ll have a head start here - defending as Rook, for example, narrows the decisions you need to make while still helping everyone on the team. Beyond that, it’s important to pay attention to the basics - check your aim as friendly fire won’t make you popular, don’t be a lone wolf until you’re confident enough to roam without backup, and make sure you’re calling out enemy positions as you play. Bear in mind, too, that injuring or even simply delaying an opposing player can mean the difference between your team winning or losing - even if you don’t get a kill, or end up dying in the process.
Harry: What are your top tips for each Siege game mode?
Ben: I’ll offer defensive tips. Jordan can fill you in on attacking.
- Bomb: remember not to reinforce the walls between bomb sites. Better still, breach them so that you have clear lines of sight and the ability to move quickly between bombs.
- Secure area: hunker down and make the enemy come to you - time is on your side so all you have to do is hold the site. That doesn’t mean you have to be in the same room as the chemical weapon, but don’t go chasing kills - a late-round rush is easier to defend against if half your team haven’t already been picked off because everyone decided to roam.
- Hostage: use the poor sucker to your advantage. Human shields are frowned upon in real life, but here you’ll win if an aggressive attacker kills your hostage - put them between you and your opponents. Another common mistake inexperienced defenders make is to leave the hostage unguarded - you’d be surprised how quickly the situation can fall apart if a bold attacking player grabs your leverage and leaps out of a window with them.
Jordan: Seeing as Ben has left me with attack…
- Bomb: take your time. All you have to do is establish control over one bomb site, or even just a door or window. Start with drones to figure out how the enemy have set up defensively and then attack the weakest site. Again, drone to figure out exactly where defenders are and then move in slowly, being sure to cover flanking routes for teammates. Pop some smoke or stun grenades through nearby doorways when the plant is going down - this will buy you valuable seconds of cover. Then all you have to do is pick a door or window and cover it. Montagne is especially useful for bomb as he can literally block doorways with his shield, but also because you can practically stroll into the bomb site, distracting the enemy so that your team can get their foot in the door. It is also vitally important that, if you have the defuser, you don’t die on your own far away from the objective.
- Secure area: open the area up as much as possible. Breach any and all soft cover, not just around, but also above and below the objective. Thermite can open up reinforced walls so it is a great pick. Then use drones and careful movement to route out any entrenched defenders. You want at least one player in the objective and in a safe position - this will force enemies to snuff out the contesting attacker - while the rest of the team watch angles from outside the room to punish defenders who leave their positions.
- Hostage: if there are not many people defending the hostage, launch stun and smoke grenades in, grab the hapless hostage and sprint to safety. Most likely, however, it will not be that simple, so prepare to make a gradual push on the objective, watching for flankers and continually advancing with drones first. Fire with extreme prejudice when you near the hostage and, as Ben says, don’t even consider bringing Fuze along with you.
What advice would you give to people starting out with Rainbow Six Siege? Help us out in the comments below.