Ubisoft has steadily supported Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege with new operators since launch, and while none have broken the game, not every new character has been perfectly balanced. Characters are regularly balanced post-release, but when the new ones launch at the stronger end of the scale, it can be a few weeks or months of frustrations before the problem is addressed. With the recent reveal of the next two Siege operators, I have some balancing concerns that Ubisoft would do well to prove me wrong about.
The first new operator revealed for Siege’s Grim Sky expansion is a Defender named Clash. This operator’s unique equipment is an extendable shield, and if that sounds incongruous to you, you’re onto something. Clash is the first Defender in the entire game to sport a shield. This isn’t to say a Defender with a shield can’t be balanced, but the way in which Siege forces Attackers to move on the objective inherently balances shield users by necessitating they displace themselves, something that wouldn’t be demanded of a shielded Defender. Shielded Defenders could just turtle up on a point and wait for Attackers to come to them. Even if the Attackers get line of sight, a turtled Defender can relay key information at little risk to themselves.
This turtling issue is even more prevalent by the virtue of Clash’s shield being extendable, similar to the Attacker Montagne. Montagne has undergone many adjustments since the game first launched, but where he is now can be very frustrating. His extendable shield is impenetrable—just like Clash’s—requiring either a second teammate to flank or very particular types of equipment to deal with him. Even explosives like Nitro Cells are not nearly as effective against his shield as they should be. This fortitude allows Montagne to be very oppressive on a point, and even post up in a corner, from where he is potentially immovable. Some may argue this distraction/stalling tactic is a valid strategy, but it is relatively skilless for how effective it can be. Clash’s shield appears to extend by default, giving her that extra coverage at all times. Combine this turtling strategy with a Defender’s freedom to be stationary, and the game’s non-Clash users may soon be suffering some unsavory practices.
There are admittedly some variances in Clash’s design that better balance the character. Unlike Montagne, Clash cannot fire her sidearm with her shield up, she cannot melee, and meleeing her forces her to (slightly) drop her shield. That said, the character makes up for these detriments with two tasers mounted to the front of her shield, which both slow and damage targets. These targets don’t even need to be that close, as the tasers boast a fairly long effective range, and while damage is moderate, don’t think you can just tank the shots until she’s out of ammo. Her tasers operate on a recharge, meaning that, as long as she doesn’t let them entirely deplete, she can keep the pressure on without putting herself in harm’s way. These qualities could make Clash much more frustrating to deal with than other Defenders.
The Attacker coming in Siege’s next expansion goes by the name of Maverick, and he wields a blowtorch of all things. When this character first leaked, a blowtorch sounded like a relatively unimpressive tool to take into a combat zone. How long would an enemy possibly give the character to slowly carve a man-sized hole in a wall? As it turns out, I didn’t rightly consider the efficacy with which it carves through any destructible barrier, metal or otherwise. The torch gives very little visible or audible indication that a wall is being breached, making it the stealthiest means of accessing metal walls. The torch has a fuel limit, but using it up to make a hole big enough for an operator to fit through may not be as beneficial as simply burning a small hole in a metal wall from which your team can clip unsuspecting enemies. In just a second or two, an attacking team can have a perfect little window to begin sniping away. On top of the potential balancing concerns, the developer needs to be aware of how vulnerable it is making metal walls.
There will soon be three different characters that can diminish the integrity of metal walls, despite these barricades generally being a defending team’s last line of defense. Players often allocate a sizable number of resources (Mute disruptors, Mira windows, etc.) to ensure the dependability of their metal walls. With the assault coming from any side, these extra-fortified walls can give Defenders at least a modicum of security in their defense. The ability to breach these walls should be rare and fairly easily preventable. The original two metal-wall breaching tools are very loud and counterable, but that isn’t the case with the blowtorch. Not only does it appear nearly impossible to detect when Maverick is breaching, he presumably can’t be countered by electronic means. We are getting dangerously close to the tipping point of metal wall ineffectuality.
With how many characters are currently in the game, Ubisoft has been reasonably successful in keeping Siege balanced, but this can always change. These new operators may require a closer eye than the characters that came before. By all means, Ubisoft, innovate. Just remember what trolls some of your community can be.