Rainbow Six Mobile and the Challenges of Porting a Beloved Title to Mobile Devices

First announced earlier this year, Rainbow Six Siege finally makes its long-awaited release on mobile devices, at least as a limited closed beta test for now. Unsurprisingly named Rainbow Six Mobile, Ubisoft is taking the popular tactical shooter and placing it in the palm of your hands. It does not come without challenges, but the team is determined to provide the best experience possible.

We recently got the chance to speak to key members of the development team, Creative Director: Justin Swan and Lead Game Designer Olivier Albarracin, to share their thoughts on the challenges of bringing the game to mobile devices and whether Rainbow Six Mobile will also get controller support, among other things that they can share with us!

Could you talk to us about how challenging it was to correctly translate the tactical gameplay of R6 Siege to mobile devices? What feature or mechanic of Rainbow Six Mobile proved to be the most challenging?

The two biggest challenges were around tech and design. From a tech perspective, Siege gameplay is just incredibly demanding from both a memory and CPU demand. We also had to consider the large complex maps, 5v5 real-time PvP with 10 unique operators, and procedural destruction. Thankfully we have an amazing team of engineers who have worked magic to bring the game to life on a large range of devices.

Regarding design challenges, there are a few things that make the mobile experience different from a PC or console experience that we had to take into account. From a gameplay perspective, we wanted to make the battlefield as clear as possible to accommodate the smaller screen, some of which will be covered with the player’s fingers. This means creating brighter operator skins with more differentiated silhouettes, adding outlines to enemy operators so they stand out on the field, and overall de-cluttering the maps and reducing very fine details like thin bars across windows or railings on stairs

We also have worked to reduce the session length as much as possible by shortening round length, speeding up some animations, and defaulting to best of 3 matches.

One of the trickiest aspects of creating a mobile game is adapting a control scheme that works on such a small screen. Can you talk us through how the team overcame this for Rainbow Six Mobile?

We started by layering in all of the unique Siege gameplay behaviors that make the game so great. Rappelling, proning, vaulting, deploying gadgets and reinforcements, these were all new additions to the formula we had to carefully add in.

The importance of the soundscape to being successful in the game is also much stronger in Siege than most shooters so we invested a lot of energy into finding ways to visualize audio on screen for players without sound on.

In the end, our secret sauce is a super talented team, lots of prototyping and playtesting, and the team-wide tournaments we hold that get very exciting but also expose any problems we might have in our control scheme!

As a follow-up, will Rainbow Six Mobile feature controller support, or will it be a purely touch-screen experience?

It’s important for us that as many players can enjoy Rainbow Six Mobile as possible, and that they can play the way they want. This means that we will have support for joypads and controllers and the ability for a player to fully customize their entire control layout.

rainbow six mobile in-game screenshot

R6 Siege has such a strong presence in esports, and a number of shooter games on mobile are also making their mark in the esports scene. Can you tell us about your plans for Rainbow Six Mobile, if any, for an esports push?

The thing that has been crucial for us on this topic is not to say “yes we will be a big esports game!”, but instead to develop everything in the game that we CAN be a big esports game, and then it’s up to the community if this is something they want to see.

Did you change anything from R6 Siege when creating Rainbow Six Mobile? Any mechanics or abilities that needed some tweaking due to the change in “platform”?

We wanted to create as true an experience as possible which for the team often meant adding instead of taking away or changing. For example, we have extensive “Gadget Previews” which show the player exactly where the gadget will be placed, and the impact it will have. So an impact grenade will show the travel arc as well as the radius of destruction that will be delivered, and a deployable shield will preview exactly where it will be placed for that perfect door-blocking placement.

We also cleaned up the battlefield and simplified some geometry to reduce “pixel hunting” on such a small screen.

Can you talk to us about how players will be able to unlock operators in Rainbow Six Mobile? Will it be the same as R6 Siege or will unlocking the operators follow a different path?

We have introduced a new feature called the “Ticket System”. This allows players to continually test out new operators for free and eventually even unlock them simply by testing them out enough times. We feel that the “try before you buy” approach, and the ability to unlock an operator permanently with enough tries, is a great new way for players to experience the full breadth of the game with no need to monetize.

Players can also purchase operators if they wish.

It’s been mentioned that Rainbow Six Mobile will have exclusive content unavailable in R6 Siege. Could you talk to us about this?

We can’t really comment on future content at the moment but the team certainly understands that fresh and unique content is something that is really exciting for the community.

The Rainbow Six Mobile closed beta has been ongoing for almost a month now. Could you talk to us about the feedback fans have sent about the game and which ones are being prioritized as fixes or additions before the game goes live?

The community response has been amazing! We’ve put many years of passionate work into making the best game experience possible and seeing this dedication appreciated by our players has been incredibly rewarding.

The most useful feedback we’ve received comes from our most engaged players about what they are enjoying or would like to see come to the game. Because of this, we’ve already been able to deliver a very appreciated special game mode we call “Veteran Mode” where combat is less forgiving than the classic balancing.

Rainbow Six Mobile is headed to iOS and Android devices.

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