Rainbow Six: Siege's third year of content is finally coming to a close with Season 4's Operation Wind Bastion, taking us to the Kingdom of Morocco with a new map and two new Operators, which got a full reveal at this past weekend's Pro League finals at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Last week we were invited to the Ubisoft offices in the UK to get a look at the new content ahead of release though, and how the new content shifts things about a bit.
First up is the map, called Fortress, which actually reminded us a lot of Coastline from Operation Velvet Shell. This is because there are plenty of ways for the attackers to scale up and go down through the middle of the building, with various openings and walkways exposed to those on the roof looking down. Striking from above is often the most useful tactic on this map, but when the bombsites move down to the cellar then it becomes a really tough push for the attackers, with the defence in prime positions to cover all angles.
To talk about the operators for a bit, we first have the defender Kaid. He actually calls the Fortress his home, and while he might be a touch older than other Operators, he's no less deadly. He comes equipped with an AUG A3 and a semi-automatic shotgun, but what you really need to know about is his special ability, as he has three deployable nodes that electrify anything within its radius, from barbed wire to reinforced walls. This makes him an excellent alternative to Bandit as a result.
The advantage of having these throwable items (of which you have three) is that you can hide them better and they can be tough to see, such as placing them under the floor of a barricade you want to electrify. IQ can still pick these up and destroy them, as can Thatcher's EMP grenades, but it's still a great way of managing key areas of the map and preventing attacking access.
Then comes the attacker, called Nomad, who has two weapons as well, including an AK-74M, not to mention a .44 Mag Semi-Auto with scope (that Kaid also has). Her ability is all about what's called an Airjab, and this is a piece of equipment that knocks enemies backwards and to the ground. This can either be used like a grenade launcher directly onto enemies, or deployed as proximity mines for enemies to walk into, but beware: your allies can also feel the force of the Airjab if you're not careful. As expected, Jäger can also destroy these Airjabs, so watch out for that too.
This is useful in a number of ways. Firstly, it gives you some time to shoot at a foe if they're knocked down and taking time to get up, but secondly, it also has more complex tactical advantages. Shield-bearing enemies, for example, will move their shield to their back once hit by the Airjab, and you can even send enemies through walls or off ledges with it. Timing and placing these well, then, can be the difference between success and failure.
As mentioned, Operation Wind Bastion is one of four major updates the game has received this year as part of its Year 3 rollout, and in the past 12 months, we've seen the meta change dramatically. First up we had Operation Chimera introducing two new attackers for the first time in the game's history, one of which allowed moving enemies to be spotted via a drone scan, while the other gave teammates Nanobots which boosted their HP and steadied their aim.
Then with Season 2 we got Operation Para Bellum, with Alibi who could place holograms acting as decoys, and Maestro with his remote-controlled laser turrets. Just before Operation Wind Bastion we also had Operation Grim Sky too, and Maverick introduced us to the idea of lasering through walls with his blowtorch. Then we had Clash, whose shield emitted a Charged Field Generator (CFG) in front of her to slow enemies down.
These might just sound like nifty new abilities, but each of these impacted the meta in dramatic ways. Maverick, for instance, gave another option for breaching which - just as we've seen with the likes of Hibana too - means players don't have to rely on combos like Thermite/Thatcher any more. What's more is that it branched the game out thematically as well, going into more sci-fi realms with the likes of Alibi's hologram. Sure, that's not to everyone's tastes, but it still offers something new and fresh.
All of this is without mentioning the raft of other changes we got too, as not only does Year 3 include new maps, but we also got a seasonal event in the form of the zombified Outbreak earlier this year, but Ubisoft also showed their commitment to refreshing the game too. Tweaks were made, such as Hereford Base being totally reimagined and redesigned, and while not all changes were entirely well received (we're looking at the recent backlash against cosmetic changes on the maps to remove controversial elements), we're seeing the game grow and the existing elements adapt to the needs of the game and its players.
We can't talk about the meta without mentioning Rainbow Six: Siege's booming esports scene, which has just wrapped up Season 8 of the Pro League with the finals in Rio. Before 2018 we had plenty of esports to talk about with the Pro League and teams like Ence and Penta Sports dominating the scene, but 2018 was the year that Rainbow Six took it a step further in the competitive space.
For a start, we've seen more big organisations enter the scene by picking up existing rosters, from Fnatic to Immortals and of course G2 Esports, who signed the Penta Sports team that's widely considered the best in the world. Big names joining is a show of commitment to the esports environment, and with such a large investment in the game that in turn ensures more stability moving forwards. We even heard about the fact that more in-game team items are on their way, with 30% of the proceeds going straight to the organisations themselves.
We've also seen an expansion in the ways to get involved with competitions, especially with the introduction of DreamHack tournaments. This has allowed teams like Millenium Esports and IDK (who have since been picked up by Team Secret) to shine at Austin and Valencia respectively, and diversify the number of teams to watch and support for the fans, not to mention bringing live action to more crowds worldwide.
Looking ahead a bit, the Six Invitational next year will have over $1 million USD at stake, and the events this past year have paved the way for teams to qualify for the biggest event in the Siege calendar. In Montreal we'll get a look ahead at all of the Year 4 content for the game as well as how the esports scene will develop even more, so all that's left to do is enjoy what we've received this year, and get excited for February to roll around so we can do it all again.