Update: Ubisoft has issued a statement since the story broke that says there will be some activities for solo players:
The creative vision for Rainbow Six Siege has always been strongly focused on a compelling cooperative and multiplayer experience. The game supports solo play when playing Terrorist Hunt offline & online and we will provide further details on single-player content in the near future.
Original article: Single-player stories in first-person shooters are a rarity. Why? Well, there's a belief that there's more longevity and money to be made on online multiplayer games. Sadly, Rainbow Six: Siege is a victim of the kind of thought pattern that online multiplayer should be the main focus of a player's core gaming experience.
What Culture managed to get in word with Rainbow Six: Siege's art director Scott Mitchell at this year's EGX, and Mitchell explained what gamers can expect from the single-player portion of the game, saying...
There is no story mode per se. You go through training, where you get to experience different operators and their devices. You can play against enemy AI in co-op through all the maps. You can customise matches, so that’s what we’re offering on the single-player side of things
Essentially the single-player portion of Rainbow Six: Siege falls to little more than training courses in the maps against bots.
A lot of gamers may be too young to remember, but the original Rainbow Six games on PC (and a shoddy N64 port) were all about tactical strategy, teamwork and planning, planning, and more planning.
It's safe to say that the old way that Rainbow Six was designed is not really suited for the have-it-now, fast, fast, fast era of today's blockbuster gaming arena. The older titles were about selecting team members suited for specific tasks, surveying the area, using provided intel to plot courses of breaching for team members and taking down enemies as efficiently as possible.
The stages could last anywhere between seconds, to a few minutes, to a few hours. It all depended on how players equipped, routed their team and planned for the opposition. The older Rainbow Six games became popular for how realistic and thought-provoking they were in terms of utilizing strategies outside the box for a shooter game.
They also had stories loosely attached to them to give players an incentive to keep playing, but they weren't a real strong focus of the gameplay. Ubisoft appeared to want to try going story-heavy with Rainbow Six: Patriots but they were met with a lot of pushback over portraying the supposed “99%” as terrorist patriots and having the Rainbow team turn into cop killers. It was real dark territory that could have worked from a story perspective but the gameplay was criticized for appearing to be more Call of Duty than Rainbow Six.
Ubisoft scrapped Rainbow Six: Patriots for the multiplayer focused Rainbow Six: Siege, which originally had a lot of positive feedback when the destruction system was put on display but over time the downgrades took a lot of wind out of the game's sails.
Technically a game like Rainbow Six: Patriots using the older Rainbow Six games' tactical setup could have been a very interesting project. However, instead we have Rainbow Six: Siege to look forward to.
Art director Scott Mitchell confirmed that players can use the single-player training to unlock gear and items for the online PvP and that the game will feature a total of 11 multiplayer maps.
Rainbow Six: Siege is due for release on December 1st for the Xbox One and PS4.