"The theme we've been going for is Rainbow Six under attack," game designer Jean-Pascal Cambiotti tells us. "You'll be in situations where Rainbow isn't exactly in charge, in pinned-down situations - situations where members of Rainbow are taken hostage and you have to go in and rescue them."
It's clear even at this stage, that there are fistfuls of modifications in Lockdown, some of which clearly add to the experience. The HUD has been drastically changed to incorporate a new goggle view system (these can get steamed up, cracked, or wet depending on the abuse you suffer), but the team control HUD has altered too.
"We've really streamlined how you interact with doors and approach the next room," Cambiotti says. "It's a two-step approach, telling the team what to do to the door and what to do once they're past it. For example, you can use a Shotgun command followed by a Clear order, using a Go code. They'll then blast in and intelligently clear the room." It cuts down on complex commands, but let's hope Lockdown doesn't shift too far in the direction of an arcade shooter. An indication that it might be doing just that is the visible parabola now used when throwing a grenade. It's there to help a novice player but crucially, Cambiotti tells us, "It's not an option to turn that off."
Importantly perhaps, environments will now be far more involving than before, with our team actively seeking shadows to fire from, and windows of cars and buildings shattering on impact. Havok physics will mean plenty of falling debris too, although much of what we saw tended to be scripted rather than real-time.
In total, Lockdown will feature 14 maps divided into chunks, and each of these sections will test the mettle of the Rainbow squad, itself having expanded beyond the usual Ding Chavez crew. "There are a lot more Rainbow operatives and they are a lot more quirky to get the player more attached," Cambiotti says. "They are assigned to your team per mission, and eventually you'll work with them all."
With new sniper missions, a multiplayer mode that allows us to play as bad guys, plus character information saved on Microsoft servers that will enable characters to grow and develop online, it seems the face of Rainbow Six will be drastically altered by the release of Lockdown. The big question is, will hardcore fans appreciate the change? Look out for our full review soon.