Flanking our Six, Joab Gilroy takes on the latest content for Rainbow Six Siege and gives us a post-action report on what he found out in the field...
Rainbow Six Siege is entering Year 6, a mammoth achievement for the competitive shooter, and we got the opportunity to check it out a little early! Well, Season 1 of Year 6, anyway! Here are the Winners and Losers of Year 6, based on our hands-on with it and what we saw from the Roadmap.
Winner - Flores
The first Rainbow Six Siege operator from Argentina, Flores is a thief and gadget expert who has joined the team to make up for his larceny-based vigilantism. He comes equipped with four RCE-Ratero Drones, which last for 10 seconds and explode when triggered or at the end of their life cycle.
Four drones is a huge amount, and the utility these drones provide is immense. You get vision, the same way you do with other drones, but you also get a controllable explosive device that you can use to destroy everything from Razor Wire to enemy players. He also has Thatcher's AR33 or Blackbeard's SR-25 to choose from as primary weapons, which are both mid-tier weapons in my opinion.
Loser - Me trying to use Flores for the first time
I get the win, but it's not a good win.
Winner - Border
Border is a great map, it always has been. It's one of those maps you love to see when the Rainbow Six Pro League is on, because it's got more than enough multi-layered complexity to force out really interesting strategies from teams.
"They've also silenced the loudspeaker guy during the Action phase so you can now board the helicopter...”
With Season 1 of Year 6, Ubisoft Montreal has made a bunch of tweaks for Border and, having played it, I think they've made a great map better. They've fleshed out a bunch of rooms while keeping the level's signature charm and they've added in some fantastic external options to give Attackers some methods of entry that don't involve hanging from a rope. They've also silenced the loudspeaker guy during the Action phase so you can now board the helicopter, if you can find it.
Winner - Mute, Maestro, Attackers
Mute's been one of the best operators since day zero in Rainbow Six Siege. Siege is a game about information, and Mute does an amazing job of denying that information. His Jammers stop all kinds of Attacker gadgets from working effectively, but more importantly, they stop drones.
A new drone operator coming into play would normally be enough to make Mute a winner, but there's another change coming that will make him basically a must pick. With Year 6 Season 1, players will be able to use their deployed gadgets after they've died — and that's huge for Maestro too.
He's a high-skill operator, but this new change means when he's dead you'll be able to zap Attackers who move past his cameras, and if you're clever about placement it will be very difficult to stop you.
But as much as Mute and Maestro come out on top thanks to this change, Attackers will have a better time out of it. If you've got a drone that you've deployed that is still alive, you'll be able to move it around the map to give your teammates information. If they didn't grab a Mute or a Mozzie, you'll have free reign with your drones even after you've died.
We'll have to wait and see how it plays out in the end, but my gut reaction is that this is a good change. It will keep players engaged even after they get fragged, and it gives the Attackers a bit of an advantage — if they play their cards right. Later in the year Attackers will be getting a 'repick' option as well — the ability to change operators before the Prep Phase has ended — that will be interesting to see in play too.
Loser - Season Pass Purchasers
Gone are the days of buying the Rainbow Six Siege Season Pass at the start of the year and knowing you'd have every operator available the moment they came out. If that was your jam, you'll need to make an adjustment for Year 6.
Instead, Siege is moving wholly to the Battlepass system of monetisation and progression, with new operators being added as the first reward of each Season's Purchased Battlepass. They'll become available for purchase using renown after two weeks of playtime (up from one week), but other than that the only way to get them will be via the BP.
I think the Season Pass/Battlepass system was confusing, so up-front I'm keen on this change — I think anything that simplifies these systems is a good thing. But Ubisoft needs to make sure they balance it correctly. It used to be that Season Pass owners got a boost in the Battlepass, and even then it was one of the grindier BPs — if they haven't tweaked the rate at which you level up your pass, it could very quickly backfire on them.
Another downside here is that if you don't happen to jump on and buy the Battlepass each season, you won't get the operator unlocked next — there's no going away for six months and coming back with everything still available.
Overall I think this move is good, but they should tread carefully.
Winner - Three More Nations!
Year 6 as a whole will include more than just Flores, as operators from Ireland, Croatia and the First Nations peoples of Nakoda all join Team Rainbow in 2021! Season 2 will see the Nakoda operator and a casual rework for Favela. I would have preferred to see Yacht — especially as it was a North American map and the Nakoda indigenous peoples are North American — but Favela needs work as well.
"They'll be joined by a rework of Outback, the Aussie themed map from Year 4 Season 1...”
Season 3 brings Croatia its first operator, and instead of one big rework we'll see a handful of smaller changes to multiple maps. And Season 4 is Ireland's time to shine, which I'm unbelievably excited for. They'll be joined by a rework of Outback, the Aussie-themed map from Year 4 Season 1. This is all good stuff, although it's a shame we won't get to see a fully new map at all this year.
My one big hope is that they add a few new weapons into the game. I think they've got loads of good stuff to choose from already in Siege, but variety is the spice of life.
Winner - Resident Evil Fans, Cosmetic Customisers
Outside of Montagne's Rainbow is Magic all pink skin I don't really go in for cosmetics. Not just in Rainbow Six Siege, but in every game — I just don't care for them. But people who like to customise their characters are getting some great news here.
First off, Siege is bringing the ability to customise individual pieces of your Elite skin options, which means you'll be able to mix and match your cosmetic pieces for each operator as you see fit. Headgear, Uniforms and Victory Animations are separated, so they work more like regular cosmetics and you can play Fashion Six Siege to your heart's content.
Secondly, Zofia is getting a Jill Valentine skin that I find equal parts hilarious and fantastic — and more Resident Evil-themed stuff is still to come. Pulse as Chris Redfield? Maverick as Leon S. Kennedy? Oryx as Nemesis? GRIDLOCK AS LADY DIMITRESCU!? My mind races with possibilities. They also teased a Rick & Morty collab, which means Castle will be putting up non-stop Real Fake Doors.
Loser - Mira, Goyo, Melusi
The team at Ubisoft Montreal is waving the nerf-stick around a little haphazardly to kick off the year, hurting a handful of defenders across the board. Mira's window can be obscured by a melee attack — as can Maestro's, but his are easier to put out of the way — which could lead to some significant information denial. A huge part of what makes Mira work is the fact that she gets to dictate when and how her Black Mirror gets deployed, and counter-play against her generally meant disrupting this timing. This nerf hurts her tempo quite significantly, allowing attackers to force her hand if they like.
Goyo's shields are gone, and now he gets two incendiary explosive devices — a huge step back from his previous gear, although he can now put his explosives in more locations, which might lead to some creative play — my guess is it's more likely that he just won't be picked.
Melusi's amazing gadget was probably too powerful, but her nerf feels like an over-correction. Where her Banshee previously couldn't be destroyed except by walking over to it and meleeing, now attackers can shoot it the moment it engages its noise-making and slowing effect.
Coupled with the addition of the Gonne-6, a single-use explosive device Attackers can use to destroy placed items from a distance, and it feels like she really copped it for this update.
Winner - Nvidia RTX and better owners
Year 6 will bring with it the deployment of Nvidia's Reflex tech, which is a huge boon for anyone with a 10 series card or higher. It's been a thing for a while now in games like Call of Duty and Apex Legends, and it's a big deal for sweaty spaghettis who want every single possible edge in their games.
NVIDIA Reflex support has been added to the Technical Test Server update for @Rainbow6Game, reducing system latency and improving responsiveness for GeForce GTX 10 Series and newer GPUs.
Basically — and I'm talking real basic here — Reflex is an SDK that allows game developers to implement a low-latency mode that eliminates the GPU rendering queue and minimises system latency (that time between when you click and when it is displayed).
Because Siege is a game of high lethality, Reflex is a massive deal. Every frame advantage you can get could be the difference between life and death, and Reflex goes beyond that to squeeze out an advantage in-between frames.
Now if only Siege could implement Ray-Traced reflections, my GTX 3080 Suprim X could give me the ultimate advantage by letting me see people in mirrored surfaces!
Loser - Toxic Players
Year 6 for Siege will see the implementation of a "Reputation System" which should hopefully lead to a more positive environment in the game. The System has been working for some time now, and will continue to gather data throughout Year 6 even before the Reputation feedback itself is implemented — this is how they're going to try to stop people from gaming it and circumventing their rulesets.
Toxic players will suffer consequences like Ranked matchmaking bans, voice chat bans and others, while good players can expect to see some rewards — although Ubisoft hasn't yet revealed what those rewards might be.
This is a good move, in my opinion, and something a lot of long-term competitive style games have eventually implemented. No player should have to put up with toxicity from their teammates or opponents, and if the only way to stop players from being toxic is consequences, then so be it.
Winner - Rainbow Six Siege Players
There's no question that Year 6 will be divisive initially. Fans have been playing Siege for more than half-a-decade at this point, so they'll absolutely be used to some things, and change will be tricky to handle. Attacker re-picks are something I honestly wanted to see the first time I got my hands on the game, back before it was even released — but it's going to require an adjustment period for players, and it might ultimately not work in the end. Same goes for using drones and camera gadgets post-mortem.
But the reason Siege Players win with Year 6 is because Ubisoft Montreal has said upfront that they want to be more agile in 2021. They're going to try some things that might not work, but they're willing to cop to it and undo those changes if that's the case. And that's the best possible thing that could happen for Rainbow Six Siege. It'll keep the game interesting, it'll make the game better eventually and we'll get to have fun while it happens.
And honestly, after five years with this game I think the Rainbow Six Siege team has earned our faith.