Everyone knows the story of Rainbow Six Siege's troubled launch, and how Ubisoft managed to bring it back from the brink of failure to become one of the most successful games around. But what most people don't know is Siege's esports scene followed a similar path, with disaster striking at the first ever LAN event that was supposed to kickstart the competitive side of the game.
This year's Pride month had a greater presence in gaming than any before it. Several companies adopted pride colours over their well known logos, PlayStation sponsored London Pride and The Last of Us 2's lesbian kiss took centre stage at E3, the world's biggest gaming event. The talk online seemed to be that gaming was now an inclusive space and the conservative elements holding it back had at last been vanquished.
Well, that was Amazon Prime Day 2018. The summer sales festivities are now over - if you managed to grab some bargains, good on you - but if not, fear not - Black Friday 2018 is just around the corner, like it or not. We've already got our guide to the best Black Friday gaming deals up and running, ready to update with all the latest deals and discounts as and when they arrive, so be sure to bookmark that one.
While Ubisoft's esporting ambitions for Rainbow Six Siege are as explicit in its design as its expanding roster of League of Legends-inspired Operatives and strategically-placed cavity walls, with the recent announcement that 2.3m people play the game every day, there's a sense that the counter-terrorism reboot is finally moving into the big, big league.
"Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall," goes an aphorism penned by the French mystic and political activist Simone Weil. "The wall is the thing which separates them but is also their means of communication. It is the same with us and god. Every separation is a link." I doubt Weil would have been very pleased to see this sentiment applied to a video game like Rainbow Six: Siege - in which the only god is line-of-sight, and tapping on walls is a great way to get yourself shot in the ear. But I like to think she'd have appreciated how creatively players of such games reach out to one another through the simulation's constraints, especially once you remove direct speech from the equation.
Editor's note: This piece is based upon an event in London, where we played through Rainbow Six Siege's modes on PC over a couple of days. Our full review will be up later this week once we've been able to get adequate experience of the game running on live servers.
Ubisoft's decision to forgo a single player campaign for Rainbow Six: Siege is an odd choice for a series that previously focused on delivering a challenging and in-depth 'campaign' for those wanting to go solo. The fortunes of the series now rest with the online modes in providing the strong concepts and range of content required to satisfy the Rainbow Six fanbase. While it's too early to tell if Ubisoft has succeeded here, the recent beta test shows how the use of the AnvilNext engine and RealBlast technology is used to create tactical shootouts that offer players a wide range of choices to tackling various situations, while also targeting a 60fps update for the main multiplayer mode of the game.
This is new: an addiction to skylights. There are two on the roof of the Consulate map in Rainbow Six: Siege, and I can't leave them alone. You don't need to use up a breach charge on a skylight, you just smash the glass - they'll hear you coming - and then rappel down. I like to hover, on the first skylight, between the first and second storey landings. I like to hover upside down, and wait for those jerks with the explosives strapped to them to venture out to investigate the sound of breaking glass. Then I shoot them. Or at least I shoot at them. Sometimes I accidentally unrappel myself due to adrenalin and general clumsiness. That gets awkward! But not for long. Not for long.
It's nearly done. After three days of drinking, chatting and, funnily enough, playing games, EGX 2015 is entering its final stretch, and we're all blearily considering the long trek home from Birmingham NEC. And what a year it's been! We've been graced by legends such as Sony's Shuhei Yoshida, been entertained by the Dragon's Den-esque Pitch Your Game Idea at the Rezzed sessions and discovered some new and exciting games at the various indie sections. What, though, have been the highlights? Here's a little selection of what's made this year's EGX special.
At the start of the new year, we once used to run a series looking at the trends we think will emerge over the next 12 months - the ideas and technologies that will go on to shape and define the games we play and how we play them. This year, it didn't seem a particularly fitting way to tackle what lies ahead: not because there won't be grand themes emerging, and not because there won't be new approaches that will dazzle and confound us, but rather because it seems pointless pointing out what's becoming patently obvious.
These days it seems like a lot of military shooters have an identity crisis. They want to provide these deep, meaningful, dramatic experiences about the horrors of war, but they also want to provide a fun, casual adrenaline rush. They know their most beloved feature is multiplayer, yet they focus on delivering a cinematic, scripted single-player campaign because that's what all the cool kids are doing. They want to go bigger and more complex, but really this plays just as big a hand at alienating newcomers as it does pleasing the already dedicated.