Kapkan is no longer the only Rainbow Six Siege defender sending attackers to a sudden explosive grave. Brianna "Thorn" Skehan, an Irish trapper releasing with Siege's High Calibre season later this year, carries an even deadlier trap than her Russian peer and a brand new SMG that hits like a brick.
Thorn's gadget is the Razorbloom, a sticky pill-shaped proximity mine that she can toss and stick to basically anything (if one of Ela's Grzmots mines can stick there, so can this). Taking the full force of the Razorbloom's spiky payload is a one-hit-kill from close range and hurts like hell from a few meters away. But unlike Kapkan's trip mines, Thorn's Razorblooms give attackers a 3-second warning before blowing up. That's more than enough time to get out of its range, but in a game where taking one wrong step can get you killed, running isn't always an option.
Luckily for attackers, there is no shortage of ways to counter a Razorbloom before it goes off—EMP grenades, Twitch drones, Zero cameras, explosions, or a single bullet will get the job done. Enemies can also see an on-screen threat indicator during the detonation timer, making them easier to reactively avoid.
I played High Calibre for a few hours last week with a mix of people that play Siege a lot and a little, and I was surprised how rarely a Razorbloom actually managed to kill someone. The trap is pretty big and glows, so most would simply shoot or avoid it when out in the open.
I got more mileage out of the Razorbloom when I hid it under furniture or between floorboards. Enemies still stepped out of its range before it dealt damage, but it at least doubled as an effective alarm. Thorn's traps are best comboed with a gadget that can slow attackers down, like Melusi's Banshees or barbed wire (which Thorn can bring as a secondary gadget). Together, the Razorbloom has a decent chance of blowing up in lethal range, especially if the target is playing recklessly.
A new gun and an old Outback
With only her Razorblooms, Thorn strikes me as a fun alternative to Lesion or Kapkan that fills a non-crucial role on defense, but her unique UZK50Gi SMG may be reason alone to bring her along. The UZK looks a lot like an SMG-12 (the one Dokkaebi and Vigil carry) that's been modified to shoot .50 caliber rounds. As a result, the UZK is basically an SMG that behaves like an assault rifle—it hits for an impressive 44 damage per shot, but its fire rate is very slow. Thanks to the .50 caliber bullets, it can punch huge holes in walls faster than any other full-auto gun in the game.
Guns with high fire rates typically rise to the top of Siege's one-shot-headshot environment, but the UZK's other big advantage is extremely low recoil (the polar opposite of Maverick's .50 caliber DMR that kicks like a mule). The only challenge with the gun is managing its small 23-bullet magazine.
Most of my High Calibre playtime was on the new rework of Outback, Siege's newest map originally released in 2019. The map is known for being hard to attack because of its lack of entryways. Ubi's latest rework doesn't add loads of new doors, but it does reimagine its most problematic areas, most notably the garage. The old open-floor plan of the garage has been enclosed by an extended second floor and split into two distinct spaces connected by stairs and a ladder. Now, attackers can enter through the first floor garage without always having to look up, which is nice. Like always with map reworks, it'll take a few weeks on live servers to know if the new Outback is up to snuff, but Ubi is hoping it's good enough to enter the Pro League.
A stale Year 6
Thorn's introduction marks the end of Siege's sixth year of post-release updates. It's also the end of a yearlong experiment that transformed Siege's yearly model from a $30 annual pass to four seasonal battle passes at $10 each.
I've enjoyed unlocking operators through the battle pass and the slew of mostly meh cosmetics included in them, but 2021 has also felt like the emptiest year of Siege yet. For the third year in a row, Ubi has stopped adding new maps to the game to instead rework the ones it already has. Reworks are great for the game's health, but they can't quite match the thrill of an entirely new region.
The same can be said of operators—Ubi suggested that cutting the number of new operators in half (down from eight in 2016-2019 to six in 2020 and four in 2021) would give developers more freedom to make operators that meaningfully add to the game, but I don't think Year 6's new faces have accomplished that. Flores is another way to make holes, Thunderbird is a boringly passive healer, and Thorn is another trapper that will be passed over for important meta roles like Bandit or Jäger. Osa is the one outlier in my eyes, with a gadget that can rewrite the rules of a bomb site like no attacker ever could before her.
What does it take to get more Osas in Siege and fewer Melusis? Because as it is, I play less Siege than I ever have. My lapse is in part caused by the abundance of fantastic multiplayer shooters out there right now (Have you tried Hunt: Showdown? You should), but also because new Siege seasons don't rev me up anymore. For years, Siege's quarterly updates were like four regularly-scheduled Christmases for me. There used to be so much to unwrap! Two new operators, yes please. A new map! Cool. Three new guns? Hell yeah. And a bunch of balancing changes? Cherry on top!
Respect to the folks that work very hard on Siege's seasonal modes like Doktor's Curse or that one Wild West thing, but I'd trade it all for more resources dedicated to what I play Siege for: superb gunplay, unparalleled teamplay, expressive tools, and the joy of smashing walls with a hammer.
We'll have to see what Ubi, a company still reeling from reports of widespread harassment and toxic working environments, approaches Year 7. Next up after High Calibre is Siege's Six Invitational 2022, which usually holds the game's biggest announcements for the coming year.