Operation Steel Wave is almost upon us! Australian Rainbow Six: Siege caster and observer Alex ‘Skye’ McCallum partnered with Here’s The Thing to preview Ubisoft’s newest season update, and its planned additions to the ever-expanding esport now five years in the making.
Ubisoft kicked off 2020 and Year 5 of Rainbow Six: Siege with Operation Void Edge in early February which featured two new Operators in Iana and Oryx, a rework of the map Oregon, various gameplay tweaks, and new arcade event game modes.
Coming this June, Operation Steel Wave marks the second season of Year 5 and comes jam-packed with content. From new and reworked operators, to map changes, a new gadget, and ranked playlist updates, among many other modifications to Siege.
The operation introduces two brand new operators to Siege. Ace, a 2-speed 2-armor Norwegian Attacker, focuses on ranged breaching both reinforced barriers and soft walls, and hatches with his grenade-like S.E.L.M.A. Aqua Breachers. With three S.E.L.M.A. Devices, Ace makes short work of structures and when combined with breach charges, smoke grenades and close-to-medium range weapons like the M1014 Shotgun and the AK12 assault rifle, attackers have no shortage of pathways to their objective.
“Ace is the fourth hard breach addition to R6S. I think in his current state he will be a serious contender for being picked. Between the addition of the extremely powerful AK12 which is a gun that could only previously be used on Fuze (an operator who doesn't see much playtime) or the fact he can have three times the destructive capability over the only other ranged hardbreacher, Hibana – he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.” - Skye
On Defence, Melusi, a South African member of the Inkaba Task Force, focuses on speed and maneuverability – combining her 3-speed base stat with the agility of the T-5 SMG & Super 90. Her special ability, the Banshee, adversely affects her enemies’ movement speed within range of the sonic defence device. While the Banshee can be heard and destroyed, the closer the target is to the Banshee, the greater the movement speed reduction.
“Personally I am pretty excited for Melusi, a fast 3-speed operator with the solid T-5 SMG, plus the addition of her three Banshee devices that can easily cover most major choke points on maps. This makes fast play from attackers far less viable. Melusi also has the ability to play many different roles, whether it be anchoring on site, or roaming with her impact grenades. I think attackers will be pleased to hear that Melusi’s device only affects operator speed, not ADS/non-ADS sensitivity, something that has caused frustration for some in the past with operators such as Ela or Zofia.” - Skye
Amaru will also be receiving an overhaul, her Garu Hook animations have been cleaned up, while barricades will now be destroyed as Amaru hits them and not as the Hook is deployed. The Garu Hook will now be impactful against unreinforced hatches from below, allowing a little more depth on offense with the operator.
Also to be released is a new gadget, the Proximity Alarm. A throwable gadget for defenders, the Proximity Alarm makes an audible beep whenever nearby opponents are within the device’s line of sight and over a short-to-medium range. Defenders that choose to utilise the Proximity Alarm will be equipped with two on spawn.
Released with the launch of the base game in 2015, House will receive a rework with Operation Steel Wave. The map will be expanded to almost twice its original size, with a two-storey addition to the southern part of the map.
“In my time on the new House rework, I can say for sure it is overall an extremely fun map with plenty of soft walls! While the map is contended for casual play, some improvements absolutely make the map more competitively viable. At this stage it is too early to say if the map will see competitive play, however I dont think it's impossible at some stage in the future.” - Skye
With most of the rework taking place on the 1st and 2nd floor, the basement will remain largely unaffected, allowing some familiarity with the old version. For attackers, an exterior entrance via a balcony has been added and will open up plenty of new avenues on their way to their objective.
Crucial updates have been applied to the ranked playlist, the biggest being a ‘Unified MMR’ system whereby players’ MMR will be identical regardless of region selection. The entry level for ranked has been raised to level 50 for the operation, while those hunting for Champion will need to play a minimum of 100 ranked games within the season.
“Previously Champion could be achieved by playing your ten placement games and gaining 5000 MMR. This meant it was easy for cheaters to gain Champion somewhat quickly. Now it will be far more difficult as they have to avoid being banned through 100 ranked games, and combined with more exposure to the anti-cheat on their way to level 50, we should be seeing fewer cheaters at the top of the ranks. For a new player who has just picked up R6S and needs to hit level 50, I think this change is positive as well, allowing for more time to learn such a complex game and to be comfortable enough to head into ranked.” - Skye
Rainbow Six: Siege’s growth, particularly over the past two years, has been exponential and showed no signs of slowing into 2020, where February’s $3,000,000 Six Invitational averaged 120,000 live viewers and recorded over 11 million hours watched for the ten day event.
Following Pro League Season 11, Ubisoft had plans to fully revamp the Siege calendar. A three Major system was orchestrated, as well as a split expansion into both new and existing region leagues headed up by FACEIT, joining ESL and other organisers in event coverage.
However, there was no avoiding the coronavirus pandemic in March, which saw the cancellation of Pro League Season 11. The league’s prize pool was split regionally, with Australian powerhouse Fnatic coming out ahead in the APAC division.
ESL have, and will, maintain tournament operations in the APAC region, with the Oceanic Six Masters currently at the midpoint of the season. But with offline events likely cancelled through 2020 and the pinnacle Six Invitational in jeopardy for February, opportunities for Oceanic-based teams seems set to be limited for some time to come.
Operation Steel Wave is set to go live in early June, with test server access opening shortly. Stay tuned to Here’s The Thing for news, commentary and more about Rainbow Six’s rise in both Australasian and global esports.