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How Rainbow Six: Siege takes inspiration from real life hostage rescues

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Ubisoft Montreal is using famous hostage extraction operations as inspiration for its forthcoming online team-based shooter Rainbow Six: Siege.

In a blog post today, the developer revealed how team members have been studying recent-history examples of special operations teams saving hostages from terrorists. These include the Lufthansa Flight 181 hijacking (1977), the London Iranian Embassy siege (1980) and the Moscow theater hostage crisis (2002).

Rainbow Six: Siege is an asymmetrical shooter in which two teams of five humans (one special ops and one terrorist) face off in a hostage situation. Both teams are seeking to keep an AI hostage alive, while eliminating their enemies. Various tricks are available to each team, such as recon drones and defensive gadgets.

Ubisoft said it has been testing the game with French special ops, the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group (GIGN).

"While a lot of people on our team are veteran first-person shooter developers, at the end of the day we're just gamers and consulting with the real operators helps make sure that we're doing it right," said the blog post. "We get to ask them a lot of questions and get great feedback. Interestingly enough, they told us that if given a choice to protect a teammate or a civilian, the GIGN operator would protect the civilian. That's some serious dedication to preserving life and we wanted to emulate that kind of passionate commitment in the game."

Rainbow Six: Siege

The game was unveiled at E3 earlier this year and is due to be released in 2015. It will be the first Rainbow Six title in six years. The developers say they are keen to avoid yet another all-out shooting game.

"If we ask ourselves which mission creates the best story to tell, it isn't disarming a bomb, it isn't breaking into a building and making an assault," said creative director Xavier Marquis. "It is to be able to extract, to save, a hostage."

In play-tests many encounters have devolved into team deathmatch situations, but Ubisoft argues that the hostage encourages creative approaches to engagement.

"By making the objective a hostage who can take damage and even be killed, it creates tension and demands a tactical approach," continued the blog post. "When killing the hostage is a lose condition, players become more careful as they get closer to the objective. Considering the high lethality of Rainbow Six Siege, it makes these close quarters encounters simultaneously delicate and explosive."