Hands-on with Rainbow Six Siege: Operation Wind Bastion

VIDEO: 20 minutes of new gameplay footage.

Rainbow Six Siege’s Operation Wind Bastion has finally been properly revealed, giving us a much better look at new operators Nomad and Kaid as well as Siege’s newest map: Fortress. Earlier this week, I spent a few hours with Wind Bastion and came away both excited and a little nervous. Both new Moroccan operators are fascinating and strong, but their capabilities raise interesting questions about Siege’s meta going forward.

Kaid

For Siege veterans, Kaid will definitely raise a few eyebrows. He’s the third 3-armor defender added this year, cementing Year 3 as the year of the anchor. His slower pace is an important distinction here, because his gadget, the Rtila Electroclaw, competes directly with Bandit’s Shock Wire batteries. When latched onto any surface, Kaid’s three Rtilas will electrocute anything within their short range.

Its simple function makes it viable for all sorts of defenses. Placed strategically, a single Rtila can do the work of three or four Bandit batteries: simultaneously zapping a wall, two bandit wires, and a deployable shield. But most importantly, sticking an Rtila within range of a reinforced hatch allows defenders to protect them against breachers above. 

It can’t be overstated how fundamental of a change this is for the Siege meta. Hatch breaching has been considered near-impossible to shut down, so many defense strategies are centered around the eventuality that they’ll be destroyed. Kaid flips this idea on its head and makes attackers reconsider where their resources are best used.

Kaid’s arsenal is a bit puzzling for a defender. He chooses between the AUG A3 SMG or the TCSG 12 shotgun with the .44 Mag Semi-Auto pistol backing him up. I used the AUG for the majority of my time, which feels like a competent and fairly controllable SMG. More interesting is the TCSG shotgun, which shoots slugs similar to Vigil’s BOSG shotgun from last year. Only instead of a double barrel setup, the TCSG has a 10-round magazine and can equip an ACOG scope. Each shot deals 84 damage(!) and can be fired as quickly as you pull the trigger. This makes it feel more like a powerful DMR than a shotgun, though it also boasts impressive destruction when used on soft walls. I didn’t spend too much time with it in combat, but my gut says this thing feels a bit too powerful. Anything is subject to change before release, so we’ll see.

The .44 magnum is also a unique beast for Siege. The high-powered pistol deals 74 damage per shot and comes mounted with a scope. The scope looks completely unique to other weapons, but Ubi says its zooming capability is equal to an ACOG. It’s a powerful weapon that I can already see players using to spawnpeek headshots (sigh), but it’s unclear whether it has the dramatic damage dropoff that most pistols share. The magazine only holds seven shots, so it’s not built for tense rapid-fire gunfights at close range.

The question my teammates and I kept coming back to is one that many players will likely be asking in the coming weeks: does Kaid make Bandit obsolete? The Rtilas can cover more walls than batteries, electrify barbed wire without exposing the gadget, and protect hatches from underneath. Ubisoft considered this too, and limited Kaid in a few key ways that still give Bandit relevance.

First, Kaid cannot bandit trick Thermite’s breaching charge thanks to the few seconds between placing the Rtila and its activation. Ubi said it is possible to negate Hibana’s breaching pellets, but only with exact timing. Secondly, Kaid doesn’t have the speed and roaming potential of Bandit. Roaming is an important role for the defense, so it won’t always make sense to take a slow-moving anchor. If anything, I think Kaid and Bandit will equally share the importance that Bandit has exclusively held since launch, but his batteries have become less useful because of the Rtila’s existence.

Nomad

Whereas Kaid fills a gap in the meta that has been sorely missing since the game’s launch, Nomad is something completely new. She’s a 2-speed attacker equipped with the Airjab Launcher, a weapon-mounted device that fires three “airjab” mines. The airjab mines can stick to any surface and can be activated from what looks like a 3-4 meter range by enemies. When detonated, the airjab emits a powerful air blast that sends its victims flying backwards onto the ground. The animation leaves you vulnerable for what seemed like 1-1.5 seconds. The trap deals no damage, but will decimate any soft wall nearby. When Nomad fires an airjab directly at an enemy, it will detonate midair similar to Zofia’s concussion grenades.

This simple set of rules makes Nomad incredibly versatile. She can set traps for roamers, plant an airjab near the ticking defuser, or force a defender rooted in a corner out into the open. Getting knocked down by the airjab isn’t always a death sentence. More often than not, they’ll be used as an alarm for incoming roamers. But if you are caught in blast while already in combat, it’s probably over for you. This is especially true for Clash, who can’t do anything about being knocked to the ground even with her shield fully deployed. Nomad is such a hard counter for her, that I suggest simply avoiding Clash at the moment.

But Nomad does have her own setbacks. While the airjab launcher is equipped, a bright yellow laser sight is activated that looks like a tape measure jutting out of her gun. This is surely meant to alert defenders when an airjab is about to fly into your area, but it also gives away Nomad’s position. Similar to Buck, Nomad’s weapon-mounted gadget means that she can’t take a stabilizing grip on either of her primary assault rifles.

Speaking of, Nomad’s kit is the first in a while with two different flavors of assault rifle. She can take the slower-firing AK-74M or the rapid ARX200. Both are new guns and seem viable, but the ARX has both a higher fire rate and slightly more damage, so it comes off as the easy choice if you can control the recoil. Like Kaid, her only secondary option is the .44 magnum. I like the concept of the pistol more with Nomad because it frees me up to equip close-range sights on my rifle while the pistol backs me up at long range.

Fortress

Accompanying the new operators is Fortress, a brand new map set in a Moroccan military training facility. It’s hard to get a proper read on a Siege map from only a few matches, but it delivers the level of detail that players have become accustomed to. At times, Fortress evokes the simplicity of Coastline thanks to its simpler two-floor layout. This is a strength in my eyes, as many recent maps like Villa and Hereford Base feel almost bloated by a high number of rooms. Something about Fortress is more digestible.

There are four bomb sites to choose from, two on the second floor and two on the bottom floor. We only played Bomb during the demo session, so it’s unclear how well the layout will translate to Secure Area and Hostage. But similar to Villa, Fortress has no bomb sites that border the outside to prevent the advantage from falling too easily into the attacker’s hands.

Walking away from my demo, I was much more excited about Wind Bastion than I was with Grim Sky. Call me a softy, but I’m tired of the dreary darkness and constant rain that has permeated Siege these past months. I’m ready for the bright Moroccan sun and two operators I really want to play. Kaid’s gadget, while possibly too useful at the moment, spices up the meta in ways I can’t wait to see play out. Nomad is going to be a lot of fun to experiment with and I’m always here for new ways to bully Caveira mains. Barring any game-breaking bugs that may emerge, Siege is wrapping up Year 3 in a good spot.