Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: SMOL - First Impressions

Here is our first look into Ubisoft's latest game - Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: SMOL.

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: SMOL - First Impressions

Let's just rip the bandage off: Tom Clancy is dead and has been for many years. Yet, game developers continue to perform various rituals to summon his presence so that they can attach his name to new games. Through the combined efforts of creators at Netflix and Ubisoft, they managed to do so to bring to life Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: SMOL. However, some glitter or cotton candy must have gotten mixed up in the ritual bowl, because the game looks like something out of a picture book Mr. Clancy might've drawn while experimenting with a concentrated blend of tobacco and glucose… and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

What's going on in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: SMOL?

Rainbow Six: SMOL map

A typical Tom Clancy affair starts with some form of law enforcement or military entity being sent in to deal with some ambitious, well-armed, and well-funded troublemakers. It seems while on the way to said affair, the whole Clancy cast was sucked into the world of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: SMOL. Seriously, an entire military organization gets sucked into a fantasy realm called Smol. However, it seems that bullets and explosives work perfectly well in this magical realm, so it's business as usual. You and your team need to hunt down some terrorist jerk named Deimos and maybe clear out some of the evil for the magical Smolians (?) while you're at it.

Starting small, or rather, SMOL

Unlocked the tactical patch called Explosive Strenght

On a personal note, I've never really been into Tom Clancy's repertoire but I can understand its appeal. With that in mind, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: SMOL may be doing just the right things to make me reexamine my feelings. The game scores point out the gate by essentially being a huge parody of sorts on the property where it takes its name. You are literally a group of serious soldiers and personnel that have been sucked into a cartoon fantasy world. What makes it better is that it follows a key rule of comedy: the characters encounter the absurd and just roll with it.

Speaking of rolling with it, you'll be doing (well, dashing, but let's not split hairs) that as you get used to the major deviation from typical Rainbow Six games. SMOL takes the 2.5D top-down approach where your aim only has to be as good as aiming in the general direction of bad guys and pressing the fire button until they explode into kid-friendly magic smoke. It also introduces right off the bat the roguelite playbook where you pick a rosy-cheeked recruit looking to prove themselves on the battlefield and try to take them as far as you can. When they die, they lose all their levels and power-ups but bring back any unlocks and Credits back to the base. Runs can be so quick and missions so short that grinding never really feels like a grind.

It's also proving to bear an amount of content on a level similar to Triple-A 3D Rainbow Six games. There are tons of recruits, operators, power-ups, weapons, skills, and areas to unlock as you try to make your country proud on another plane of existence that was discovered completely by accident. The combinations you can put together using all of these goodies at your disposal are staggering, and the RNG of the roguelite keeps things varied with a sense of strategy in play.

A SMOL step for Tom Clancy…

Rainbow Six: SMOL character holding AR indoors

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: SMOL is a 2.5 top-down roguelite shooter based on the Rainbow Six IP. It's unexpected, weird, colourful, and dynamic, and I'm curious to see what else it has to offer. Maybe what Netflix and Ubisoft ended up summoning was Tom Clancy's inner child, possibly carrying a Nerf gun drawn on with crayons… also not necessarily a bad thing.

Will Quick
Will Quick
Will Quick is a travelling writer currently dedicating his time to writing about the games he spends his free time playing. He's always on the lookout for the smaller and stranger of the bunch so he can shine a light on them.