Rainbow Six Siege launched last year and was the first game in the Rainbow Six series since 2008, when Vegas 2 was released. However, it wasn’t always meant to be that way: You might remember Rainbow Six: Patriots’ intriguing, narrative-focused trailer that Ubisoft released back in 2011.
But Patriots was canceled in early 2013 in favor of a different reboot of the series. Ubisoft and the Rainbow Six team then worked on the game that would become Rainbow Six Siege, the competitive multiplayer title that launched last year. We recently talked with Rainbow Six Brand Director Alex Remy at Siege’s Xbox Pro League Finals to learn more about the circumstances around Patriots’ cancellation and how Siege arose.
When asked whether the team brought anything over from Patriots, Remy stated that beyond a few multiplayer technological elements, Siege began pretty much as a clean slate. “In terms of design, direction, and vision, Patriots was much more a story-driven, narrative-driven game,” Remy told us. “With Rainbow Six Siege we sort of took a very, very different position and vision at the time… We really flipped in terms of vision and direction. Even on the team side of things, in early 2013, we were 25 people. And pretty much the whole 25 people were new to Rainbow; they were not people from Patriots except a couple of us.”
But this raises the question: why did Ubisoft need a clean slate in the first place? What happened to Patriots? Ubisoft indicated in 2013 that its quality wasn’t up to par, but Remy explained that the team also wanted to focus more on sustainability for the Rainbow Six franchise. Ubisoft and Remy’s team decided that the way to achieve that was to double down on competitive multiplayer: “We really wanted to focus on multiplayer because we felt that’s where the franchise should go. And building that game around multiplayer, we thought this is how we were going to get some sort of sustainability in the long term. So I think that’s one of the things we were adamant in doing–building the game for the long term.”
And so began the project that would become Siege. Almost year after Siege’s release, Ubisoft has continued to improve its competitive elements, positioning it more and more as an esport and not just another disposable multiplayer shooter. Remy said that this desire to position it as a competitive game, and potentially an esport, informed Siege’s entire development: “Right from the beginning, the word we used the most was ‘competition’ and we wanted to build a game for competition.”
He continued: “All [those] competition and esports aspect[s] [were] important to us not so much in terms of the sort of ‘esports phenomenon’ that we may or may not drive, but essentially because we deeply feel that when you do build a game for esports, that is a game that will be extremely tight and extremely solid in its foundations, design, and tech, which benefits everyone.”
At the Pro League Finals over the weekend, Remy also gave a presentation on Siege’s development cycle and the challenges that Ubisoft faced when rebooting the Rainbow Six series. He shared some details about the game’s early stages, including the tumultuous time between Patriots’ cancellation and the beginning of work on Siege.
“At the time, the game wasn’t called Siege; it was called ‘Unbreakable,'” he said. “[It was called this] for more than one reason, but obviously destruction is a key feature we have in the game. And also it was sort of a reflection of the mindset of the team after that whole seven years of being in limbo, if you will. You have to have the mindset of ‘unbreakable’ if you were to take that mandate of taking [on] Rainbow Six.
“Ubisoft Montreal is a huge studio, so for every developer to come to Rainbow, it’s a choice that they are making versus being on Far Cry, versus being on Watch Dogs. So you have to have a special passion for either FPSes or the brand to jump on Rainbow at the time when we were sort of at a difficult position.”