Resident shooter expert, competitive beast, food artisan and lockdown hair growth consultant, Joaby Gilroy, takes us through the latest from Rainbow Six Siege. Read on for his full Crystal Guard hands-on debrief...
Shields in shooters are a bit weird to me. Don't get me wrong, I love them, but they don't really fit with a lot of the playstyles generally promoted by a shooter. First-person shooters are all about active engagements, after all, and shields encourage players to sit back and play passive instead.
Restricted vision and an inability to attack at range turns shields into tools for players who are happy to let their enemies come to them, which can be a problem in a game where one side is supposed to be attacking and the other is supposed to be defending.
"We call that play the Sex Panther, because 60% of the time it works every time...”
Couple that with generally lower movement, and shield-based attackers in Rainbow Six Siege have typically only been used in specific situations. Teaming up with a Montagne player, for example, and getting them to inch their way into the site while you plant behind them, their impenetrable shield standing tall against incoming gunfire — we call that play the Sex Panther, because 60% of the time it works every time.
Crystal Guard, the update for Year 6 Season 3 in Rainbow Six Siege, might change those odds though.
Osa, the new operator coming in Crystal Guard, is a shield operator with a twist. Her bulletproof shield is see-through, for one, which increases peripheral vision beyond what other shield operators are burdened with. Think of it like a halfway point between Blackbeard's mounted rifle shield and the metal armour of a primary-weaponless Fuze.
And the second part to the Osa puzzle is that she can deploy her shield, much like a defender's deployable shield. That means placing it on the ground in front of her or attaching it to doors — and in Osa's case, she can even stick it to windows. In videos, they showed her rappelling to deploy them on windows while upside down, but every time I attempted to do this myself the sweaty spaghettis I was previewing the update with would run out and shoot me. Still, it's theoretically possible.
The tricks don't stop there, either. Unlike other Shield operators, Osa comes equipped with a primary weapon as well as her shield. She can use either Thermite's Sig 556 or Jackal's PDW9 as her primary, with the shield acting as her special instead. And like Mira's Black Mirrors, Osa's Shields can be destroyed from one side by shooting a specially located gas canister, allowing Attackers to dictate the timing of an encounter from an open doorway or window — not something they usually get to do.
On the flipside, all manner of explosives will destroy the shield, including impact grenades and the ever terrifying C4. Still, she feels super powerful, especially when compared to other shield operators. The deployable shield will still be fairly situational, but with a decent arsenal behind her, Osa will probably see a lot of play against site-focused defenses.
High IQ Plays
Another Attacker is getting some love in the Crystal Guard update, as IQ is becoming even more useful thanks to the incorporation of the Ping 2.0 system with her gadget.
Ping 2.0, for those unfamiliar, is the system designed to intelligently communicate what players have non-verbally called out. Inspired by the robust automated system in Apex Legends, which revolutionised callouts in games, Ping 2.0 is more than a yellow teardrop on your screen from a probably-not-talking-teammate.
When it was first introduced it was fairly limited, adding in basic context like barbed wire and stuff, but over time it's grown into a super useful tool for those times when you don't care to turn on your mic. And with Crystal Guard it's getting even better for IQ, as she'll not only be able to call out all manner of objects — she'll be able to do it via her IQ detector.
"IQ is a fantastic learning tool for new players...”
Picture this: you're breaching the server balcony wall on Clubhouse, and those pesky defenders keep Kaid-ing up the reinforced wall on you. Instead of needing to bring a Thatcher, your IQ pings the Kaid and a teammate downstairs shoots the device through the floor. When Kaid, who's clearly anchored on site, lobs another Electroclaw onto the wall, your operator downstairs takes it out nearly instantly thanks to another perfect ping.
Obviously IQ could have gone downstairs and done this herself, but the sheer amount of communication available thanks to this evolution of the system is staggering all the same. IQ is a fantastic learning tool for new players, and with this update she can now provide oodles of utility to her team as well.
All Laid Out
Beyond the operators, Crystal Guard is bringing some reworks for three of the game's maps. These aren't major reworks, like what we saw with Kanal. In Year 6 Season 3, the maps Bank, Clubhouse and Coastline instead get tweaks that make them dairy-free — they've removed the cheese.
Bank, for example, has eliminated a bunch of spawn peek opportunities that used to frustrate everyone. Skylights have been blocked and more obvious cover has been provided to guard against open windows — it's been reworked so that Attackers will live until they get inside, and they won't want to stand around outside shooting for an entire round.
Watch 2 minutes of gameplay from our hands-on preview session embedded above
The bars in the Vault are gone, which is awesome — they only ever provided flawless cover for my enemies while allowing every single bullet coming my way to pass them by. The big change is the addition of a covered alley from the Jewelry site to the Back Alley, so Attackers don't need to rappel up and over the roof to shift around the map any more. It's a great alteration.
Clubhouse already got a rework back in Year 3 Season 2, but it's going under the knife again. They've condensed the bar bombsite and opened up the area outdoors to create more rotation opportunities, but it's otherwise the same — it's a popular map that could use a bit of a tweak, but nothing too drastic.
"The map reworks aren't terribly exciting, but they're good changes all the same...”
Coastline also gets a touch-up, with new windows on the interior second floor that defenders can barricade, allowing them to rotate without getting blapped by attackers on the roof. And they also shifted the dimensions of the service area bombsite to disallow planting from outside — if Bank makes things a bit more bearable for Attackers, Coastline is a map change for the Defenders out there.
Crystal Guard feels to me like an update that caters well to new players, but I think long-term fans of Rainbow Six Siege will get a lot from it, too. Osa's see-through shield and offensive loadout makes her a fantastic new player pick, and IQ's SmartPing 2.0 system increases her teachability, but veteran players will get oodles out of both of them too. The map reworks aren't terribly exciting, but they're good changes all the same. I hope Year 6 wraps up with a bang in Season 4, but a big finish needs a solid foundation to go from, and Crystal Guard is solid as a rock.