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Too few games have giant magnets. Half-Life 2's gravity gun scratches that itch, but let's not lie to ourselves: it's not a magnet. As such, Rainbow Six Siege should soon go down well with the magnet crowd as its new defensive operator is armed with not one, not two, but infinite magnet mines.
Behind the scenes at the Rainbow Six Siege Pro League finals in Japan, Ubisoft revealed the game's next operation: Shifting Tides. The update's bringing two new operators and a redesigned version of 2017's Theme Park. Importantly, though, one of those new operators, Kali, is armed with a long-requested bolt-action sniper rifle. The new defensive operator, Wamai, has a more unusual tool: the aforementioned giant, grenade-attracting magnet. This strange device is going to make for some quite bizarre exchanges in battle.
We've played with both operators on the newly redesigned map, and you can read through our impressions and all of the details below.
The traditional sniper role doesn't fit well into Rainbow Six Siege. Snipers are often lone wolves, who set up in a nest and wait for their targets to present themselves. But Siege is a team game: as attackers you work together to advance through a building towards the objective, be it a ticking bomb or a distressed hostage. With most of the action taking place away from windows, a sniper waiting on the outside of a building is rarely much of a help, and that leaves the team short-handed in their assault.
This is what makes Kali, the new offensive operator, such an interesting prospect. She's a sniper through and through, but one that's designed to go into buildings side by side with her teammates and support an assault.
Kali's armed with a bolt-action, the first of its kind in Siege, and something players have been asking for since the game's release in 2015. The weapon is as powerful as you'd hope, not only being a one-hit kill with a headshot, but also downing players in a single shot if it hits them in the torso. Her bullets can penetrate most surfaces. So, if you line up your shot properly you can take out multiple defenders in one go. You can also punch fist-sized holes through walls, hitting players on the other side with full force.
Her rifle also has an underbarrel attachment that fires an explosive round which bores into the first surface it hits. If that's a wooden or armoured barricade, it will destroy it with the blast; if it's a reinforced wall, then the wall will stay standing but any gadgets caught in the explosion will be taken out. Because the area of effect is relatively small, these explosive rounds will need to be carefully targeted, but it still makes for an extremely powerful tool.
What this means in terms of teamplay is that Kali can stand alongside her teammates, supporting them with high-damage covering fire, and punch holes in walls to create new firing angles on the defenders. She can also destroy gadgets and barricades to open up routes for her teammates to advance.
In one of the games I played, her weapon created surprising opportunities. I was trying to hit a defender by blind firing through a wall, creating holes with each shot. Another player on my team then dropped a remote control drone which they jumped through one of the gaps I'd made, getting a camera into the room to mark the defender for me to fire at more accurately.
To balance such a powerful weapon, Ubisoft's made some clever choices with Kali's sniper rifle. The gun has a 12x zoom, making it extremely powerful when aimed down a corridor from a stationary position, but much less effective when you try to move through the tight interiors of a building looking down the scope. Similarly, the time it takes to look down the scope makes it ineffective as a weapon to quickscope enemies. Kali's secondary weapon is a pistol which is much better to be used while moving between positions. Not only is it faster to aim with, but she moves faster when she has the pistol in hand.
While there are already defensive operators, such as Jäger, who disable the attacker's equipment, they don't do it with magnets. The new defensive operator has a gadget that's basically a magic power. He can place magnets that will suck up any projectiles that pass through its area of effect. For instance, if I've placed a magnet above a doorway, when the attackers throw in a grenade, it will get pulled up above the door and explode there, instead of its intended destination. If an attacker advanced through the door as they threw the grenade, they'll now find their own explosive is going off above their head.
While Wamai's magnets are only single-use, being destroyed by the grenade it pulls in, his supply recharges throughout the match, so they're essentially unlimited. This means that while other defensive operators tend to install all their gear around the objectives at the beginning of a match and then take cover somewhere, Wamai can continue his unique role as a reactive operator. You can either remain near the objective, topping up the placement of magnets around the rooms, or respond to the route the attackers take, placing magnets in their path to redirect their grenades.
On paper, Wamai's magnets work as a defensive tool, making the area around objectives safer for defenders, but I'm looking forward to the way players will use them when Shifting Tides is released. I'm sure the players will find places throughout Siege's maps where they can hide magnets to trip up attackers, pulling grenades to surprising spots. I heard about one player who placed their magnet next to a hostage, so when an attacker tried to rescue the captive their grenade ended up killing them.
Besides the magnets, Wamai is also armed with either an Aug A2 or an MP5k, automatic weapons that are great for use in close quarters. Siege isn't a game where you can let your guard down at the best of times, but when you're going up against Wamai, your own weapons can betray you.
Besides the new operators, the big new addition of Shifting Tides is the reworked version of Theme Park. The map's been in Siege since August 2017, when it was added in the Blood Orchid operation, and it's been in line for a redesign. For a start, Theme Park is significantly larger than the other maps in the game, which dilutes the action of the match as the two teams are more spread out. Another problem is the lighting, as the map has a number of sections that are very dark, making it hard to identify enemies and giving defenders a distinct advantage.
The new version of Theme Park addresses these problems. A large chunk of the map has been taken out, bringing it down to the same size as the other levels. The layout of the rooms has also been simplified and decluttered, making navigating the space simpler. This means attackers can move through the space faster and get into the action sooner. The artists have also changed the lighting to get rid of those gloomy spaces.
Not everything in the map has changed. The arcade, for instance, has been left relatively untouched as it was already light enough and easy to navigate.
Shifting Tides brings much-needed changes to Theme Park, and Wamai makes for an exciting defender, but it's Kali that is the standout of this operation. Her sniper rifle has huge potential for creating new tactics across all of Siege's maps, and the way that such a powerful weapon has been anchored in the game with its limitations is impressive. We'll know in time whether those limitations have actually stopped the weapon from being too powerful, but for now, I'm just excited to see how it changes the meta.
Flights and accommodation to facilitate this access were covered by Ubisoft.
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