How Rainbow Six Siege: Ember Rise's less flashy changes will shake up the meta

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

There’s a lot of cool stuff coming in Rainbow Six Siege’s Operation Ember Rise. There’s grapple hooks, fire shields, a slick new Kanal, and some smaller quality-of-life additions. There’s so much, that it’s easy to overlook the less flashy stuff that will have a big impact on the meta. Here are the most important changes flying under the radar in Ember Rise, and what they mean for Siege.

Loadout updates: more deployable shields and frags

With the introduction of Siege’s new and improved deployable shields with small bulletproof windows, Ubisoft has moved around operator loadouts to reflect their higher power. Overall, there are now nine defenders that can carry a deployable shield, or a little over one third. That’s including new defender Goyo, who carries three fire-infused shields as his primary gadgets. Here’s the full breakdown of everyone losing and gaining a deployable shield:

  • Smoke: Impacts replaced with a Deployable Shield
  • Frost: Barbed Wire replaced with Deployable Shield
  • Warden: Impact Grenade replaced with Deployable Shield
  • Rook: Deployable Shield replaced with Barbed Wire
  • Jäger: Deployable Shield replaced with Bulletproof Camera
  • Mira: Deployable Shield replaced with Barbed Wire
  • Lesion: Deployable Shield replaced with Bulletproof Camera
  • Maestro: Deployable Shield replaced with Impact Grenades

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Technically, the overall number of operators that can use deployable shields has dropped by one, but Goyo’s existence means that you can have more shields on the map at once than ever before (all the way up to seven, if you want).

Possibly to help attackers deal with all of the new deployable shields, Ubisoft has made the extremely rare move of adding more frag grenades to the attacker pool without taking any way:

  • Dokkaebi: Stun Grenades replaced with Frag Grenades
  • Glaz: Claymore replaced with Frag Grenades

That brings the total count of attackers with frags to five: Sledge, Buck, Finka, Dokkaebi, and Glaz. If you bring them all on the same round, that’s 10 frag grenades for defenders to worry about. Even if Jäger’s ADS devices zapped away every frag they could, the attackers would have four more. That doesn’t mean this team composition will become dominant, but expect a general increase in frag use.

Defuser timer

In Ranked and Unranked, the time to plant and disable the defuser has been raised to 7 seconds (down from 5). You might recognize this as the same timer used under the Pro League ruleset. Ubisoft briefly experimented with the longer timer during the Road to S.I. event earlier this year, but now it’s coming for real. Two seconds might not seem like a huge difference, but it could change a lot about attack and defense strategies.

For instance, the new timer means that Smoke's canisters can now kill the planter more often. At the same time, disabling the defuser post-plant has never been more dangerous.

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Shield ADS time is now higher

As part of Ubi’s eternal quest to make shield operators less frustrating, the ADS time for all shield attackers (Blitz, Montagne, Fuze, and Recruit) has been raised from 0.4 seconds to 0.6 seconds. It feels noticeably slower (gif below) and makes it even more risky to initiate a fireright when a defender can see you. Recently, Ubi also made shield melee weaker—it now takes players into DBNO instead of instantly killing them.

The 417’s buff makes it the best DMR

Ubisoft is raising the magazine size of the 417 DMR (usable by Twitch and Lion) from 10 to 20. The 417’s biggest weakness has always been its awkwardly small magazine, so this is a big help. Statistically, the 417 is now the best DMR in the game. Its recoil is extremely low and its damage is among the highest at 69 (just 2 damage lower than Glaz’s rifle). Most players gravitate to Twitch and Lion’s assault rifle options, but the 417 now feels like more of a legitimate option.

Improved visual recoil for SMG-11, SMG-12, and Bearing 9

Ubisoft has quietly buffed Siege’s machine pistols, but not in a typical way. The weapons’ base stats are unchanged, but the visual recoil has been toned down. This means your screen will shake around less while firing, making it naturally easier to track targets and stay accurate. You can see the difference in this handy video from YouTuber Prodigo Pete.

Bonus round: New in-game operator bios

Nowadays, new operators have extensive in-game bios, but the bios of the original 20 operators have always been comparably barren. Ubisoft has partly remedied this in Ember Rise, adding expanded bios and psychological reports written by the in-lore Rainbow Six director, Harry “Six” Pandey. My favorite bit are the Notes sections, which depict R&D reports for each operator’s gadget written by fellow R6 members or the operators themselves. Some ops poke fun at each other gadgets, praise their craftsmanship, and express curiosity at how they work.

In-game bios don’t shake up the meta, obviously, but they’re fun lore additions that make Siege’s operators feel more like people. I get a kick out of hearing that Sledge and Thatcher are best friends and that Jäger is apparently an awkward goofball. There’s also some fun hints towards possible additions and reworks to operators, if you read closely.

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.