While other shooters are pursuing more weapons, more maps, higher polygon counts, higher body counts; Tom Clancy's latest Rainbow Six game is pushing the envelop on morality.
In unveiling Rainbow 6: Patriots this week, developer and publisher Ubisoft says that the game "adds an unprecedented level of humanity that will make (it) an extremely tense and immersive experience." Players will have to make "tough ethical decisions" as the story progresses.
Over the summer, sources leaked material to Kotaku showing some of those tough decisions. Some of that showed up over on Game Informer today as part of a video. In the video we see a group of men break into a home and threaten a man who they say cashed in when everyone else got foreclosed on.
A bomb is strapped to the man's body. He is told to hold the bomb's detonator and keep it from exploding until they get to Times Square—or his family dies. When the perspective shifts to the Rainbow Six team they're eventually asked to toss the man off a bridge to save the lives of hundreds of people. While not shown in the video released to Game Informer, Kotaku saw gameplay that shows the player the number of nearby civilians that could die if a player makes a different decision at the game's predetermined crossroads.
Kotaku's sources, which first revealed the game's setting, plot and details months ago, also went into more detail about the game's use of morality. The game was meant to morality as a plot-shifting element to the choices a player makes in the game. But that idea was on the cutting block, we were told. Developers and the publisher were still debating whether the game should include not just questionably moral choices, but choices that impact the way a level plays out.
The video shows the tough calls a player may be asked to make, but not whether deciding not to make the call means that the game can continue along a different route. Ubisoft declined to comment today about the game or what decision was made about the way the game's levels could be influenced by decision.
Including these branching paths would mean a longer development cycle and greater risk. But morality as a road sign along a predetermined path would bring very little to the game. Morality with choices and differing repercussions, on the other hand, is the sort of inclusion that could change the nature of an increasingly stale genre.