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This weekend Ubisoft revealed Rainbow Six Siege Season Two. Called Operation Phantom Sight, the update will add two new operators: Nokk and Warden. Both promise to shake up the game's meta, as Nokk is a stealthy attacking character designed for lone wolf gameplay, and Warden is a defender purpose-built to see through attackers' tricks. Warden's smart glasses allow him to see through smoke and make him immune to flashbangs.
Season Two doesn't bring a new map, instead Ubisoft has focused on rebuilding Kafe Dostoyevsky, one of the maps that originally shipped with Rainbow Six Siege back in 2015. The environment has been redesigned for enhanced objective play, and more obviously destructible areas. As well as to account for all the abilities operators released after launch bring to the table.
At the event, we spoke with brand director Alexandre Remy to talk about Siege's new season and the overall future for the game, including the prospect of a sequel and more co-op events like last year's Outbreak campaign.
How do you see a stealth attacker like Nokk changing up the meta?
Alexandre Remy: Because we've been giving so much intelligence to the defensive operators in past seasons, it's going to probably re-balance the overall equilibrium of the meta in favour of the attack a little bit. It feels good to have a character, Nokk, who is very counter-intelligence and very anti-roaming, on the attack. I'm pretty pleased with the overall design and the intentions behind it.
Did you have concerns that this new attacker would muddy the waters differentiating attack and defence?
Remy: I don't think it should be an issue because the time pressure is always to the detriment of the attacking side, so you can't play the camping role as an attacker forever. I'm always interested when it comes to gameplay that we bring new pieces that invite a player to try a different play style. That's how we make the game evolve. The worst that can happen for a multiplayer game is having a meta that stalls and doesn't evolve. Pushing players out of their comfort zone is always a very good exercise.
You've chosen to remake maps this season instead of making new ones. Why was that?
Remy: We're starting to have a map pool that is relatively big now. Every map in Rainbow Six, because of the destruction and the various objectives, is quite dense and sometimes difficult to learn. We feel we've reached maturity when it comes to the map pool. The idea is instead of adding a new map which adds a new layer to learn and to master, we're making sure that each of the maps that are currently available are balanced to perfection. This is going to be an ongoing exercise, and we understand that new operators and new balancing of characters can shift the meta, which can change the overall balance of the map. I think it's always going to be a constant exercise of balancing each map.
What are the key things you've learned about what makes a good Siege map that you have then used in redesigning these old maps?
Remy: Our big guidelines are three floors or more and four objectives. Through iteration this is what we believe makes the most viable maps. Maps that are medium-to-large sizes are usually better in terms of balancing than smaller maps. Those are the biggest guidelines when making a map.
You said last year that the dev team would like to make 100 operators for Siege, is that still the case or would that be an overwhelming amount of choice for the player?
Remy: The idea of 100 operators is a team objective that we have in the future, 50 attackers and defenders. For each player, you do have several choices in terms of operators, whether it's an anchor, flanker, etc. That means that the whole mechanic of the choice you have as a player becomes extremely meaningful, so 100 operators is something we're aiming at as much as possible.
What's the bigger challenge, making an operator that works well on every map, or making a new map that works well with every operator?
Remy: The operator is a bit more challenging because operators are interacting with every combination possible of other operators. While the maps, I think, we started to master the recipe of building well balanced, if not competitive, maps from the beginning. Operators are always a challenge because you do also want to create some form of novelty or gameplay territory you haven't made yet without disrupting the entire game. It is a fine exercise and sometimes we are, unfortunately, making mistakes. Sometimes we are doing great. Operators are much more complex.
Even though we're seeing more games as a service released, most of those game still get a sequel within a few years. Destiny and The Division, for instance, had multiple years of updates and expansions before starting again with a sequel. Why haven't you done that with Rainbow Six Siege?
Remy: This is a question that I think I already answered a couple of years ago. We do not want a sequel to Rainbow Six Siege. The way the game was made means it has a huge potential for longevity, thanks to the operators, thanks to the destruction. We do believe the playability of the game is close to infinite. What we dream for the game is for it to be here for 10 - 20 years, obviously going through updates and upgrades. The idea is to grow the game with the player base.
What are the challenges of adding and adding to a game instead of focusing on a sequel?
Remy: I'd say there are two difficulties. The first one was in conception and design, trying to think of mechanics like destruction or operators, that you feel have that potential to be replayable. Not even 100 times, but 10,000 times. The game is like a chessboard, it has infinite replayability thanks to the destruction and the operators, who are the second pillar of our replayability.
The second difficulty of a game as a service is what we call "the legacy". The game keeps on growing, so with more content, there's more complexity to support and balance as a dev team, from three years ago when we had 11 maps and 20 operators, to now when we're close to 20 maps and 50 operators. The level of complexity of the game is at least doubled. If you project for the future, the level of complexity in the game is going to be even bigger, so it's about how we sustain a game that is growing in complexity.
Would you ever expand the size of the teams?
Remy: We asked ourselves what was the best number of players for the team and we feel five is the perfect number. As a member of a five, you are an individual member but you don't feel too much pressure. At the same time, there's enough responsibility on you that nothing gets diluted. This is the balance we want in Siege.
What does the future hold for single-player or co-op focused Rainbow Six? Would that be part of Siege or would it be a separate game?
Remy: I think the future for single player is unfortunately a little grim. When it comes to Siege our focus always has been multiplayer. This is what we want to build as the game, as well as the experience for players. We do feel that the mission of a new player should be to be tutored and mentored into the PvP. There are tons of amazing solo games by Ubisoft and other publishers that will always be better than what Siege can do in that regard.
Would you consider Outbreak to have been a success?
Remy: Outbreak was a successful experiment for us, allowing us to test some of the limitations and some of the gameplay that was interesting for us. The main lesson that we had is Rainbow Six Siege is a multiplayer game, and dedicating our time to building such an experience for so short amount of time was not worthwhile. We see now that events like what we did for Halloween and April 1 are based on the building blocks of multiplayer, and PvP is much more interesting for us.
Written by: James Daly
Travel and accommodation provided by Ubisoft
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