5 major changes coming to Rainbow Six Siege

At Rainbow Six's biggest tournament in its two-year lifespan, the Six Invitational in Montréal, the Siege dev team revealed a handful of significant changes coming to its multiplayer shooter in 2018, all in addition to the new operators and maps coming in Year Three. Here are five major changes coming to Rainbow Six Siege.

Attachments for everyone

Beginning with the rollout of Year Three Season One on March 6, all weapon attachments—optics, grips, suppressors, muzzle breaks, and so on—will be completely unlocked at the outset of the game for everyone, including owners of Siege's Starter edition. This change will certainly help new players jump into Siege more quickly, as the grind to earn renown, Siege's in-game currency, can force tough decisions about whether to save for operators, skins, or crucial weapon attachments. It's unclear to me whether current owners will receive any kind of renown 'refund' or other compensation for having already purchased attachments. 

Pick and ban

Siege is getting a system for banning operators in competitive play, not unlike the character banning phases of games like League of Legends. At first this system will roll out in custom matches only, available to everyone, but it's intended mostly for pro Siege players to experiment with. Sometime during Year Three (2018) Ubisoft intends to roll out the system to both Casual and Ranked multiplayer.

Alternating their selections, each team will ban two operators for the full match—one attacker, one defender, forming a total of four bans. Banned operators can't be picked by either team. In addition, both teams will be able to see each other's operator picks before the preparation (droning) phase, but each team can make a roster change based on this information that's invisible to their opponent. Another opportunity for information play and deception, in other words.

This system could be a tremendous change for Siege if and when it's implemented at all levels of play. For example, the meta currently leans heavily on 'hard breachers' like Hibana and Thermite who can break reinforced walls. If both of them are banned, a fundamental tool would be taken away—perhaps a sign that Ubisoft will add at least one more hard breacher to the game in Year Three. It would also likely make more objective rooms viable—taking away Bandit on Consulate or Chalet, for instance, would make a basement spawn point less attractive to a defending team.

Hereford Base facelift

We knew one map was due for a major rework in 2018. I figured it'd be Favela, which has been removed from Casual and Competitive rotation for some time. But it'll be Hereford Base, the symmetrical cube that's been played since launch.

The rework is not only geometrically but thematically aggressive. It's a flashback to Hereford as it existed 30 years ago, with a pair of WWII Spitfires sitting in the open where helipads rest in the current version of the map. This instantly conveys Ubisoft's willingness to demolish the tone and setting of existing maps and explore something new—it's interesting to think about what novel directions existing maps could be taken in.

Though we only have a single image to go on, the shape of the structure seems slightly larger and less boxy. Ubisoft mentioned that part of the purpose of the rework was to address issues with callouts and destruction materials, and that players should expect to see a lot of wood, concrete, and brick to clearly indicate what's breakable and what's not.

"Map buffs"

Before Hereford, Clubhouse will be the first recipient of what Ubisoft's calling a "map buff" in Year Three Season Two. These are layout reworks and rebalancing of existing maps, but the changes shown still seemed big. The uppermost objectives on Clubhouse, the cash room and bedroom, will now be connected by a new area, completely altering the rooftop flanking play currently available to defenders.

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The pool table room and other downstairs areas are getting tweaks, shown in the above screenshot gallery. We're told to expect a map rework of this kind in every update this season, and one of Ubisoft's stated goals with Clubhouse and all forthcoming tweaks is to move objectives more toward the center of the map to allow the full progression of tactics to play out. That's a welcome change in my mind, as Siege is at its least satisfying when attackers are facing down defenders from a couple exterior windows, essentially nullifying lurking, scouting, and the other phases of combat.

More operators for Starter owners

Owners of Siege's Starter Edition, the $15 version of the game that requires players to pay significantly more to unlock operators, will now automatically be able to unlock six, rather than just four starting operators. This is a modest but welcome bone thrown to Starter owners, who currently don't have a way to 'upgrade out' of the worse economy they enter into by purchasing the cheaper version of the game. My assumption is that current Starter owners will receive some amount of equivalent in-game currency to compensate for this change, but I haven't confirmed this yet with Ubisoft.