Back in its heyday, the Rainbow Six series was the king of tactical shooters. Nobody did realistic, open-ended and challenging shooter scenarios quite like that series did. When the current console generation arrived, the series made a trip to Vegas, and since what happens there stays there, it decided to experiment with third-person cover shooting with successful if slightly forgettable results. After a retread of that scenario in the form of Vegas 2, the series went on a temporary hiatus much like Ubisoft’s other Tom Clancy franchises, Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon. Like those games, it was inevitable that Rainbox Six would come back in slick, rebooted form sooner than later.
Cue Rainbow 6: Patriots breaching the reveal door and roundhouse kicking gamers everywhere in the face. Don’t be fooled, though, because the change from Six to 6 in the title isn’t the only innovation Patriots has planned for the series. Being developed by what you might call the Rainbow Three in the form of Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Red Storm and Ubisoft Toronto, Patriots has quite the talent behind it, not to mention the lofty ambitions required to justify it.
Whereas most realistic military shooters still have their head stuck in the middle-eastern sand by portraying conflict between the US and foreign nations, Rainbox 6: Patriots focuses on a conflict that is, literally, much closer to home. Past Rainbox Six titles have usually taken place on domestic soil, but they settled for the beyond played-out trope of having to fight Mexicans, Arabs, and other stereotypical FPS cannon fodder. In Patriots, your enemy consists of Americans who have banded together to form a terrorist group called the True Patriots. Their goal? To give America a wake up call regarding its economic instability and eliminating key government officials that they feel are to blame for it. Their acts of domestic terrorism will mostly take place in New York City, where a newly formed Team Rainbow are the ones who are sent to stop them.
Rainbow 6: Patriots doesn’t merely get points for being daring by portraying Americans as enemies; it’s Ubisoft’s devotion to social and political commentary that has truly caught our attention. It’s refreshing to see a shooter acknowledge that at the moment, America’s greatest and most important conflict is with itself. Today, we live in an unstable climate dominated by class warfare, sketchy politics and a truly troublesome economy, and the fact that Patriots promises to explore these themes is reason enough to be interested.
Nobody is necessarily right or wrong in this conflict, and the various moral choices that you’ll have to make throughout the game accentuate this fact. It’ll be up to you as the player to determine what exactly will be worth the risk; do you try to help a forcibly-armed suicide bomber, or push him off the edge of a bridge, knowing you’ll have guaranteed the safety of everyone else on the bridge? Do you shoot a terrorist holding a hostage, knowing you may very well injure said hostage? It’s impossible to feel completely safe and justified with anything you do in Patriots, which will hopefully add to the thoughtful and ideologically diverse nature of the narrative. Details about the protagonist himself are sparse at the moment, but Ubisoft has stated that they also wish to flesh him out and create compelling relationships between him and the rest of Team Rainbow.
In terms of the core gameplay, Patriots aims to be an evolution of the mechanics found in the Vegas titles. It’s still very much a tactical first-person shooter complete with realistically weighty weaponry, complimented by a versatile cover system that shifts the game to third-person whenever it’s used. The mechanics will see a fair amount of improvement in terms of overall polish and playability, and the AI of both your teammates and enemies will be vastly improved. To keep up with the trend of advanced technology, the game will also hand you a special X-ray vision mode, though Ubisoft has stated that they don’t want this feature to become overpowered and make the game too easy, so concessions will definitely be made in that area in order to create a balanced experience that still requires planning as much as it does an itchy trigger finger.
Another area where Patriots will be able to distinguish itself will be in its level of interactivity. Throughout the game, you’ll be shifting between perspectives regularly in order to give the conflict a greater sense of scope. It’s in these moments, as well as the various moral choices, where you’ll be able to interact with the world via button prompts and icons that allow you to perform certain actions in a very immersive, involving way. If you saw the initial gameplay reveal, you’ve already seen many of these, such as having to hold down a trigger to have the suicide bomber keep pressing the detonator button, or being given the optional prompt to shove said bomber off the bridge when you’re playing as one of the operatives. It’s moments like these where player immersion will likely be the highest and have the potential to tell the game’s story in unique and interesting ways.
All in all, we’re confident that Rainbow 6: Patriots will provide another scrumptious serving of nail-biting tactical gameplay encased in a shell of genuinely insightful commentary on the boiling cauldron that is the US’ current political and economic climate. The game was originally scheduled for release in 2013, but a few speedbumps during development had Ubisoft stating that the game may very well be pushed back to a release on next-generation consoles. If that’s the case, so be it. This is a project bursting with potential, and ideally, it should be handled with the same care and finesse that Team Rainbow itself operates with.