An Analysis of Rainbow Six Siege: Hereford Base

Hereford Base is one of the eighteen maps in Rainbow Six Siege, an installment in the popular Rainbow Six titles. The multiplayer level is located on a Special Air Service (SAS) training ground in Herefordshire, England. The familiar and often iconic locale for a Rainbow Six game is where the SAS agents of the Rainbow team learn their craft and as such features plywood targets, human like dummies, barbed wire and other training like obstacles that help the potential SAS recruits in becoming a part of the elite team that Rainbow Six are.

The map is one of if not the most archetypal examples of the gameplay seen in Rainbow Six Siege and features a relatively box like structure to it as the layout of the map is linear with straight edges throughout, high fences and ninety degree angles in the shape of a ‘T’ with three different areas. The design of the level is fairly symmetrical in its shape with every area being relatively similar in size and shape. By making the map symmetrical it allows the designer to balance it a lot easier as there they can define the approaches and timings a lot easier if the shapes of the map are simpler and similar across the overall space, affording neither side an advantage due to superior elevation or cover.

Whilst the exterior of the map rarely receives the expected FPS map gameplay it is worth mentioning that the design of the exterior is a ‘T’ shaped with the main kill house structure located in the centre, acting as a landmark or a stronghold.

One of the Main Entry Locations Leading to the First Floor Corridor.

Each section of the ‘T’ is split into three different segments, each having a distinct visual appearance, this helps the player to quickly choose where they want to spawn to the team to quickly gain a potential tactical advantage. Each of the exterior areas focuses on portraying one part of a training exercise an operator would likely phase including, a firing range, a barracks and a training course, each filled with different props that aim to provide cover for the attacking players giving them different paths to take to approach the main fighting area, the Kill House. Outside there are different options for the attackers to gain a tactical advantage with a tower and a barracks like building that can be rappelled up which is a perfect location for sniping or stairs that give quick access to the basement area.

The Kill House building is littered with potential breaching points for the players however the player must breach into the building cautiously as the main stronghold is relatively small and can lead to defending players shooting out of the windows as the objective is often placed on the upper levels of the building. The designer has placed props situated around the stronghold to give the attacking players cover options to help protect them from this.

The Overview of the Hereford Base Map. Highlighting the Potential Sniper Location.

As the map has the overall theme of a training location the main stronghold is particularly filled with breakable surfaces and walls again giving the player a number of options to breach and engage the enemy as such there are specific operators that can be thought of as more useful than others, operators with explosives or breaching equipment can be expected to be more useful in this map due to the amount of breakable surfaces.

The interior of the stronghold features four different levels each featuring differently sized rooms each connected to the long open corridors that act as dangerous long sightlines that leave the player open to attack from either end, adding to the tension of the map. There is an abundance of chokepoints in the map, this is particularly noticeable at the stairs to the other floors, where both teams heavily contest the area and results in a large portion of player versus player interaction as defenders attempt to encroach the attacker’s position. When moving through the chokepoints in the map, namely the stairs and corridors they are exposed to enemy fire from multiple sources, increasing the tension in encroaching the objective. As the corridors and stairs are narrow it reduces the number of players that can move through the same space at once, preventing rushing and often allowing the defending team to set up traps.

The chokepoints are used in conjunction with flanking routes from windows and doors that pose a constant threat to the player. As Rainbow Six Siege is inherently a slower paced FPS game and relies on the player moving slowly, methodically and more tactically through the space in comparison to other FPS games such as Call of Duty the map has been designed to support this in multiple ways, including:

  • Tight Corners

  • Blind Spots

  • Flanking Routes

  • Small Rooms - Close Quarters

The Stairs Acts as a Highly Risky Position in the Map.

The combination of the design components focuses on creating a map that supports and facilitates the classic Rainbow Six gameplay this is partly due to the size of the space as it inherently feels claustrophobic adding to the overall intensity. As the game is an FPS it requires an element of ‘Flow’, the flow of the map enables players to make intuitive split-second decisions about their preferred route, and as Siege is less forgiving the player needs to be able to read the map allowing them to make better decisions from second to second. The Hereford map is particular good at this as the player is constantly moving through the space due to the type of building it is, a training house, where typically soldiers are constantly moving forward rather than backwards in the real world, the map simulates this particularly well. There is no point where the player is forced to do a full turn to see something or to know where to go, the player can identify routes easily mainly due to their existing understanding of the spatial environment, this makes moving through the map less frustrating, as the map facilitates flow between the strongpoints and the counter-strongpoints.

This is helped by providing multiple routes to the different floors and areas in the map facilitating multiple strategies, there are no instances where the player can particularly ‘camp’ or gain an unfair advantage over another player. If the player plays slow and methodical the map really shines. As the rooms are box like with simple straight corridors joining them, each floor is somewhat the same making it each floor comparable to navigate through.

In any of the rooms it has at least three entrances that a defender can enter from, typically the player will only be able to properly watch two leaving them at risk. This is particularly prominent in the map due to the Close Quarters and the Tight Corners throughout the space, as the map is compartmentalized it naturally encourages close quarters combat. The designer has ensured to leave alternative routes for attackers to take making the defenders pay attention to their surroundings a lot more and with the addition of breachable walls this creates an element of strategy, as the defenders can fortify specific walls at the start of the map, allowing the defenders to cut down potential attacking routes helping to funnel attackers into specific paths where traps or ambushes have been set up. The smashable walls inherently makes Sledge a more appealing operator to use in this map.

A Barricade Prop Placed at the End of the Stairs Blocking the View from the Stairs, Breaking the Line of Sight.

As the map is in an FPS game it requires recognisable details as it lets players know precisely where they are in the space, allowing them communicate quickly to their team and to identify strategies. As discussed earlier the exterior features three distinct areas, allowing the player to quickly decide what area they want to spawn each with an element of verticality that supports the sniper operators such as Glaz.

The interior also features details that help the player to make callouts as each room features a different theme that simulate a military operation such as a bedroom, a dining room, or a garage by making rooms with separate themes it allows the player to remember them easier and gives the player a sense of position. Where other maps may lose some of the recognisable details Hereford Base has easy to remember locations, this also applies to the lighting.

An Example of a Room, Propped to Look Like a Dining Room.

Contrasting Lights of the First & Second Floor.

The two above images show the contrast in lighting, the first floor features a red light and the floor above features a green light. The different contrast in lighting not only provides a nice visual but helps to provide the player an idea on where they currently are by differentiating lighting. As the designer and the artist has ensured that each area/floor is visually unique in terms of propping and lighting it greatly helps giving the player small cues of presence helping the player make split – second strategies. The large open areas in the map namely the outside and the central corridors are broken up with high cover.

This allows the player to advance through the areas without being vulnerable for too long. The exception to this rule is the basement, second and third floor where the objective typically resides this encourages a risk/reward scenario for example the player can enter the corridor and reach the safety of cover but risk getting shot from the basement stairs or a side room, however if they do make it they are in a powerful tactical position.

Exterior Cover Providing Protection Along the Path to an Entry Point.

The Hereford Base map is going to be receiving an update in the future as it is one of the original maps that shipped with the game in 2015 which focuses on improving the existing core pillars. The Hereford Base map retains what made the original Rainbow Six games great, it relies on the player being tactical, aware and methodical which is what makes this map a standout in the roster of maps in the title. The intensity and the close quarter combat found in the map makes it stand out from the larger maps found in the game which can feel like a Call of Duty map.

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