Rainbow Six Vegas 2 Interview
We go hands on with Ubisoft's big game and sit down with Philippe Therien to discuss the state of shooters today, piracy and smoked meat sandwiches.
On the face of it not much has changed in Rainbow Six Vegas 2. The game's still powered by the same Ubisoft engine that propelled last year's hit shooter to such great heights, and the titular Las Vegas still plays home to the majority of the experience. Dig beneath that veneer, though, and it's clear that Ubisoft is working to ensure that those who return to Vegas will be just as excited the second time around.
A few weeks ago, the company invited us to see how the multiplayer portions of the game were coming together. In a decked out meeting room at the chic Kensington Rooms hotel in west London, we met with Philippe Therien, a game designer at Ubisoft's Montreal studio who has been working on the Rainbow Six series since breakout Xbox instalment Black Arrow in 2004.
For Therien, some of the most important additions in Vegas 2 are those related to the beefed up experience system. While singleplayer is something that many people expect to be done with over the course of 10-or-so hours, dozens more will be spent playing online against other people. To make that more of a journey, Ubisoft has bolted on three ways for players to track their development seemlessly, across singleplayer, cooperative and multiplayer modes.
The first is experience points, something that can be seen right on the screen. A bar at the bottom of the busy on-screen display pings back information on all the micro-achievements completed in the game, responding to every action by rewarding you with points for good performance. Nail a head-shot from across a room and you'll get a handful of points, throw a grenade into a crowded room and you'll get a few more.
Earn enough points and you'll gain a rank - the second way player development is followed. This is, however, more than just a numerical carrot-on-a-stick. Through the game's new Persistent Elite Creation system you'll be able to tailor your character to suit your taste, choosing gender, skin-tones, and physical appearance. Every rank you earn will open up access to new gear that can be used to further differentiate your character. There are also 11 new weapons to choose from.
The third new character feature is called ACES, for Advanced Combat Enhancement Specialization. Essentially, this is a more directed version of the experience points system that rewards you for pulling off specific actions related to the three styles of play: close-quarters, assault and marksmanship. As Therien explains, many people play Rainbow Six without realizing that this is not a run-and-gun shooter, and the ACES system has been designed to reward better play, providing both a spur and a guide to how to play the game.
It's not just character development that has been overhauled. Vegas 2 adds a few new multiplayer game modes, including Demoltion and Team Leader. In Demolition, players take opposing sides and are tasked with either setting off a bomb or, if on the other team, defusing the bomb once it's set. We played this mode in one of the new locations, the convention centre, which offers plenty of catwalks and tight spots. Most striking was the sense of urgency that comes from playing Demolition. The countdown that ticks away to doom once the bomb is set is all the motivation you need to kick some ass and quickly.
The second of the modes we played, Team Leader, mixes up the rules a bit. The leaders of the two teams are marked on the mini-map and players need to either take down the opposing team leader or ensure that their leader makes it through the round intact. There's a real tension in this mode thanks to the respawn limitations, essentially giving you one try to get it right.