By Paul Davies
Significant changes are coming to Year 5, Season 3 of Ubisoft’s team-oriented FPS while signalling the re-emergence of a legendary Tom Clancy protagonist as an Operator …
Five years into it now, Ubisoft has earned the confidence to move forward with R6 Siege based on good intel. All the changes coming to the September 2020 update, Shadow Legacy, are grounded in nuanced gameplay decisions and accessibility considerations. And while the Operators roster has produced its own ebb and flow of favourites over time, the adaptation of Sam Fisher from the Splinter Cell series is a timely game changer.
Siege continues to attract millions of new players, up from 50 million to 60 million since September 2019 last count, but with Sam Fisher the appeal broadens further. Fisher, best known for his stealth-oriented gameplay in Splinter Cell, is dubbed ‘Zero’ as an Operator for R6 Siege. Ubisoft is presenting Fisher as medium speed, medium armour in his Attacker role, bringing trademark weaponry and gadgets. He becomes arguably the most ‘console shooter’ Operator with which to find your feet, carrying an SC3000K assault rifle as his main, which has a great balance of power, range and accuracy. He can switch to an MP7 submachine gun or reach for a suppressed 57USG handgun; the latter truly feels like some Splinter Cell FPS if you’re roaming, supremely stealth-like Fisher style. Aggressive Zero players may opt for the frag grenades, but cautious Operators may protect the squad’s back with Claymore mines.
Zero also carries his Argus launcher, an intel-gathering tool that fires cameras that burrow into destroyable or reinforced barriers with an audible ‘whine’ upon impact (think Fisher’s night-vision goggles). From here, Zero can see into rooms with his smart device, or flip the viewpoint to see out the other way. Even where some surfaces are impenetrable, the tiny cameras can attach to provide one-way views. Now that whine we mentioned really is a dead giveaway for alert defenders, but if you’re successful in planting the Argus cameras around the place undetected they also have a one-shot laser that can disable gadgets or strip a sliver of health from an enemy. We cannot stress enough how much familiarity with Fisher’s quest-oriented Splinter Cell exploits adds to the appeal of Zero as a new Operator.
The next highly visible change coming to Y5S3 is the extensively reworked Chalet map. Ubisoft cites the freedom to rappel all the way to the rooftop as a clear and obvious gain, but having the entire bedroom terrace enclosed with a staircase leading to the Trophy Room is also major. The long window from the Kitchen is blocked off, while a window has been added above the garage door giving LOS to the snowmobile, so no more hiding there! Bomb mode benefits from a new basement corridor to enable a more fluid rotation route between the sites. The Wine Cellar is one big area, there’s so much work been done here. All reactions to the presentation footage were positive, let’s see how they pan out in-game.
New freedoms for Attackers and Defenders
In terms of global changes to relevant to Operators on both sides, there are primarily two that we’d say are huge. All Defenders have access to a shared pool of 10 Reinforcements at the start of each match, regardless of team size. This means that experienced players can barricade more than a couple in the best places, while ensuring that anchors are not left unprotected if your noob Operator decides to go roaming without taking care of business. This places a lot more power in the Defenders’ camp, meaning that Attackers need to work much harder to break things down. Handily, then, there is a new Hard Breach secondary available to all Attackers, so it’s not just Thermite, Hibana, Maverick and Ace that defending teams need to be aware of. The hard-breacher starts fusing as soon as it has been deployed, so familiarise yourself with the sound to know if the Attackers are committed to the push.
Given these across-the-board freedoms, players need to exploit Unique Gadgets more, among them Thatcher’s EMP Grenade. However, this particular tool has received some revisions of its own; temporarily disabling gadgets instead of instantly destroying them. Worth noting that Lesion’s mines are immune to this effect, but their location is revealed. Bandit’s infernal batteries remain in place to be reconnected. In any case, the pressure is on Attackers to time pushes according to the window of opportunity Thatcher’s EMP allows.
Optics overhauled, uniquely ‘targeted’
Getting down to the more granular stuff now, there’s a new system governing the kind of optics available to Operators according to their loadouts. Sights range from 1.5 through 3.0, with the ACOG now referred to as 2.5x magnification. There’s a new red dot and a new Holo sight, but these are not assigned to all that you might assume are compatible. It’s Operator based, so this gives everyone something else to spend time with and discuss the pros/cons.
On a related note, Ubisoft is adding an Accessibility option to support colour-blind players with choices of colour and opacity for reticules. This is also kind of cool for those of us that simply want to set things up the way we like it in fine detail …
All Operators benefit the same way from the introduction of ‘Ping 2.0’, which assigns a Ping marker to each player in every match. Operators can even ping after being eliminated, using cameras to highlight anything or anyone of interest. Active Operators may also ping using drones. What’s especially useful, though, is the contextual pings that appear in red or blue, in addition to the standard yellow. These reveal tactical objects such as gadgets or defusers.
Just briefly, before wrapping up with some great community features, there’s now a Map Ban option, similar to the Operator pick and ban phase. This features in both Ranked and Unranked playlists, designed to spare your group the misery of Kanal, for example, when you could be happily playing Consulate or Kafe Dostoyevski for the evening. Basically, the map you ban according to the vote is removed from the selection and the ones remaining are launched at random. Or, don’t ban any maps if you like. Live dangerously.
Getting your act together and the new level of serious
Finally, then, players can look forward to an updated stats section on the official R6 Siege website. My Siege Stats is a heavy-duty stats tracker available from the start of the season, requiring only your username to access, presented by Season, Month and Week if you want to get into that. To improve performance here there is a Match Replay function coming to Shadow Legacy test servers during the Alpha phase. This stores your last 10 matches that can be viewed from Spectator cam or any Operator involved. It’s a valuable study tool for those players aiming for pro status, or you might simply wish to dive in and savour that one moment in a million where you pulled off something incredible, and record it for posterity.
Meanwhile, the official website will have an app dubbed Squad Finder, matchmaking with players after your own heart and mind to form the perfect squad. Long overdue this, eh!
Rainbow Six Siege Shadow Legacy is scheduled for release on September 15.