A new batch of nerfs and buffs announced as part of Ubisoft’s new Designer Notes (opens in new tab) series could see a significant shift in the Rainbow Six Siege meta. The most notable is a hard nerf for Lion, who has seen a near-100 percent pick rate throughout the Pro League since his release. Other important changes include a mix-up with Hibana’s kit, Vigil’s gadget, and a universal damage buff for light machine guns.
The post puts forth a few graphs to give players some insight into how Ubisoft makes balancing decisions. The graphs map all the operators based on their pick rate and win rate to find anomalies that need correcting. On one end of the spectrum you have Tachanka, who has the lowest pick rate of any operator as well as the lowest win rate. No surprise there (opens in new tab). On the other end sits an operator like Lion, who has an extremely high pick rate and win rate, and Ubisoft wants to do something about that.
Starting with the next patch, Lion’s map scan ability, which spots players with a bright red outline if they move, will only show the outline while an enemy is moving. If they stop moving, it disappears. It might seem like a small change, but Defenders being able to make small movements without harsh consequences could go a long way. On top of this, Lion will only have two scans instead of three, and the cooldown between scans is doubling to 20 seconds. "This is only a first step to give Defenders more options of counter-play against Lion’s detection. We are still looking into improving how Lion’s detection works and your feedback will help us get a better idea of how to proceed," the post said.
Hibana is also getting a bit of a mix-up in her kit, losing her claymore in favor of breaching charges. To explain the change, Ubi said that she’s picked far too often in Ranked and Pro League due to her "crucial utility."
"She is better at gunfights than Thermite, but we want to adjust her utility before touching her weapons," writes Ubisoft. "Thermite will be the only hard breacher with a Claymore, and we expect this swap will rebalance their popularity."
Hibana’s explosive pellets will also no longer be intercepted by Jager’s ADS gadgets. This is a big change, as firing one batch of pellets into a room can disable all of Jager’s gadgets at once. It’s an easy trade-off for the attackers to clear the path for grenades. This and the change in her kit could see her pick rate come down some in favor of Thermite.
Picking up Hibana’s claymore will be Ying, who will be ditching her smoke grenades. This change makes a whole lot of sense, as Ying has dominated the past few seasons of Pro League with her ability to both fill a room with smoke and flash grenades. Assisted by Glaz, the pair have been a winning combo for planting the defuser. But don’t fret for Ying’s viability just yet, as all light machine guns will be getting a damage buff in the next patch, an increase of around 10 damage for most of the weapons.
Rounding up the changes are Blitz and Vigil. The range on Blitz’s flash shield will be reduced from eight to five meters, and he is losing one flash charge for a total of four. Vigil’s cloak ability will now deplete after 12 seconds instead of 30, but it will also recharge in half the time, from 12 to six seconds.
Ubisoft rounds out the post by mentioning some operators they have their eye on. Finka has an abnormally high win rate, but not a high pick rate. They want to reevaluate her ability and the buffs on friendly players. Ela is now in a much better place, they say, and they do not see any more changes coming to her soon.
One curious omission was any mention of when these changes will be released. As part of this announcement, the balancing team is hosting an AMA (opens in new tab) on the Rainbow Six Siege subreddit, so stay tuned for details that could emerge there.