The next-generation of consoles have been on the market for little over a month now, and aside from seeing a whole variety of titles tailored to these more powerful devices, some games are also going through a ringer of upgrades to make them more suited than ever for the hardware. Recently, Ubisoft's premier tactical shooter, Rainbow Six: Siege received the next-gen treatment alongside a title update, making the game look and play better than ever before. To see how it stacks up today, I spent a few hours playing the game on the 4K or 120fps enabled Xbox Series X version.
To start off, what does the next-gen (Xbox Series or PS5) version bring? Well, this new version, which can be upgraded to free of charge, assuming you already owned the game, allows for either 4K at 60fps (Resolution mode) or upscaled 4K at 120 fps (Performance mode) on Xbox Series X and PS5. On Xbox Series S this instead means upscaled 4K at 60fps or 1080p at 120fps, due to the less powerful hardware.
On Xbox Series X, the Resolution mode makes this game look pretty great, but due to how Rainbow Six Siege plays, as a very fast-paced shooter where reactions are way more important than looks: you're going to want to play on Performance mode instead. The game still looks great on Performance mode and every part of it from the character models to the map destruction feels substantially better than before, but it's the fluidity that comes with double the frame rate that really elevates the experience of this game.
Over my time playing Siege on console, the aiming has always felt a little clunky, in the same way that Overwatch does on consoles. If you are like myself, a shooter aficionado, you'll know how much better Call of Duty games play mechanically than other shooters out there, but this upgrade, allowing 120fps on Siege, almost levels the playing field. I do still think the majority of CoDs are better suited to controllers than a lot of other shooters are, however Siege no longer feels like it's fighting you when you play the game, and you can now also have a sensitivity that allows for agile movement and accurate aiming, unlike beforehand.
The 'responsivity' isn't the only aspect of Siege that feels substantially better than before. The menus and load times of the game have been improved drastically, to the point where you can actually boot the game up within a couple of minutes - the lengthy part still comes in joining the servers. As for the menus, previously switching out loadout options was a chore, and required you to commit a chunk of time to do so due to how long it would take to load individual parts. Not anymore. Everything can be completed instantly and no longer takes seconds to load moving between menus or Operators' loadouts.
Aside from just the improved aspects that come from better hardware, Siege on consoles now also offers way more accessibility features, such as text to speech, or speech to text. I haven't put these through the ringer so I can't exactly speak for how effective they are, but by introducing them, Siege is slowly becoming a much more inclusive game, which is quite unusual to say for such a hardcore shooter.
Stepping away from the next-gen upgrades, the latest title update was also introduced here. This one was pretty big, as it added a new Operator, Aruni as well as a returning reworked map in Skyscraper, plus a variety of balance changes. The balance changes to start with essentially looked to eliminate a Defender heavy meta, one where ballistic shields and spawn peeking was king. Now, with a reduced runout timer, and less ballistic shields available for Operators, this has been almost nullified. I very rarely encountered issues with either, and I have noticed the game has increased in pace a little because of it, which is also great.
The reworked Skyscraper map is a difficult one to comment on, as with the game featuring map picks and bans, I only had a couple of opportunities to play it. It is much less prone to spawn peeking, but a lot of the map still seems unusable, as the majority of bomb sites will be in the larger building on the map, as it's easier to defend.
Aruni on the other hand is fantastic. She comes with a new laser grid ability called Surya Laser Gate that can stop projectiles (only one before requiring the need to be picked up and replaced) or people from entering doors, as well a metal arm that can punch holes through softer destructible materials. Essentially, from what I have seen and played, she seems to fit quite well into the game state, and due to the Surya gates being easily impaired, she doesn't become an overwhelming, domineering presence.
I have been a long-time fan of Rainbow Six: Siege and while this game is still very much a hardcore shooter at its base, meaning a lot of players won't adjust to what it offers: the current state of the game, with the next-gen upgrades is Rainbow Six Siege at its best. The title plays better than ever before, looks fantastic and features a smooth set of UIs and menus. With this being available on Xbox Game Pass and usually quite cheap for just the base edition, I would strongly recommend shooter fans with a next-gen console to pick it up and give it a go. You might just be pleasantly surprised.