Update: We've added Maverick and Clash, and juggled a few other operators based on balancing tweaks and how they sit in the current meta.
There is no true 'best' Rainbow Six Siege operator. Which character is best depends on the map, the objective location, your playstyle, and your opponent.
We can, however, outline recommendations for which operators we think are best for most players, in most situations. Rook has simple, essentially guaranteed utility. Thermite is useful on Consulate, and a bunch of other maps that require hard breaching. Here, then, are the operators we value most in the meta right now.
Rainbow Six Siege's final season of 2018 will take us to Morocco for Operation Wind Bastion, where we'll be introduced to two new operators from that nation's special operations unit: one attacker, one defender. We'll meet them, along with a new map, on November 18. Expect an update to this guide around then.
The two most useful attackers
Hibana or Thermite
There are three characters who can breach reinforced surfaces in Siege. Though Maverick can poke tactical holes with his blowtorch, Thermite and Hibana specialize in opening up fortified walls and hatches, their gadgets setting the table for a successful attack.
If you don't have one of these operators, you're probably going to make things easier on the defending team, who will have to hold fewer angles. Hibana in particular is a valuable counter to defenders like Mira, knocking out her one-way mirrors from safety.
Look, you can make a rock band without guitarists, but having at least one of these dudes is probably a good idea.
Good guns and a fantastic gadget make Finka a useful operator on nearly any team. Her gadget gives a teamwide buff, steadying aim, increasing health and picking up any operators who have been downed. This can be used to great effect just before a push, tipping the scales of a firefight into your team's favor. A recent nerf decreased how long each Adrenal Surge lasts and slowed down the ADS speed increase, but well-timed uses can still make a big difference in a fight.
Her Spear .308 assault rifle is still underwhelming in terms of damage and fire rate, but her SASG shotgun and 6P41 LMG are interesting choices for more aggressive playstyles (rushing with a shotgun can be extremely effective in the right hands). Finka technically has the easiest gun handling in the game, considering you’ll almost never be in a fireright without her buffs applied. Because of this and her simplistic gadget, she’s very friendly to new players. Her recent addition of frag grenades doesn’t compliment her flow as much as their previous owner, IQ, but they’ll get the job done either way.
Maverick’s kit is interesting because he disrupts aspects of Siege’s meta that have been set in stone since launch, and there isn't really a hard counter to his quiet blowtorch, which can dislodge defenders from entrenched positions even if it doesn't directly lead to kills.
The risk for Mav comes with how close he has to be to a surface to perform his handiwork. Working the blow torch takes a lot of practice and finesse to cut maneuverable holes (and not get headshot by a vigilant defender), so he’s not going to be the perfect replacement for Hibana or Thermite. What he does best is assist in destroying mute jammers/batteries, opening sightlines for teammates to use, and utilize his light step and quiet torch to flank the enemy from an angle they’re not watching.
The rest of his loadout places him somewhere similar to Ash’s fragging potential, depending on your style. His M4 assault rifle is a powerful but jumpy weapon that’s easy to recommend for most, but his AR-15.50 is also a great DMR that hits like a truck. Consider a suppressor on either weapon to enhance his stealth capabilities.
Thatcher is the no-brainer sidekick to a Hibana or Thermite. If a defending team has deployed Mute's jammers or Bandit's batteries, they've countered your hard breacher. Thatcher is the counter to that counter: his EMP grenades can kill at least 10 different gadgets, including static surveillance cameras.
For months now, Ubisoft has been planning a rework of Thatcher that makes him less of a powerhouse over electronics. The first step of this process was recently implemented, meaning his EMP grenades will no longer destroy any sort of camera, just disable them for 10 seconds. Ubi has bigger plans for his playstyle, but for now he still remains dominant over Bandit and Mute’s denying efforts. He also has three different primaries to pick from (including a shotgun), and can can carry a claymore. A downside is that he can't carry a SMG as a secondary.
Undervalued; she's Pulse, but as an attacker. Lurk under the objective and pop traps and gadgets at will. Her main drawback is that she requires coordination and communication between teammates to get full value from her kit. A recent nerf to her kit took away frag grenades and lowered the range on her scanner. She now sits in a similar place as Capitão: an operator without the destructive tools that help them use their gadget better. IQ is still great for tracking down Valk cameras and spotting jammers, but her kit limits what she can do to get rid of them.
Her candelas are uber flash grenades that spit out charges in multiple directions. Though they can be untrustworthy, combining them with smoke grenades, which Ying can carry, usually means you're able to create a visual wall in a doorway or window, allowing your teammates to gain a foothold on a bombsite. Ying's especially useful in 'perimeter' bombsites, where attackers can immediately enter the objective room from the exterior of the map. Just keep in mind that all characters have a natural defense against flash grenades in Siege: turning away. A recent buff to LMG damage has also made Ying a stronger pick for firefights.
Her shock drone is usually less effective than Thatcher's EMP, but at the moment it's one of the only ways of safely dealing with Mute, Mira, Kapkan, and a host of other electronic traps. Experienced players will gun down her weaponized drones quickly, but Twitch still carries one of the better ARs in Siege in the F2 (aka FAMAS), with the option of a semi-auto marksman rifle instead.
Viable, but not essential
Think of him as the only operator in Siege with a helmet. A helmet that can quickly break. With his disposable shield up, he's the slowest operator in the game, moving at 62.5% the baseline speed, making peeking more difficult. He pairs well with Montagne or Blitz, as they combine to create layers of protection for peeking.
His gadget, the EE-ONE-D sonar drone, can reveal the location of any moving defenders for a few seconds—with full body outlines. Popping a scan at the right time can give roaming defenders a difficult choice-stay still and be unable to flank, or move and reveal their position to the attacking team.
When it works, it’s incredible, and can lead to some early picks. But more often than not the scan doesn’t tend to hit anything, merely inconveniencing enemies for a few seconds rather than revealing them. Lion’s guns, while good, don’t quite make up his usually counterable gadget. Fantastic in certain situations, but far from a must-pick.
On objectives with a soft ceiling, he's your guy. Knocking out the roof over defenders' heads will send them scattering for safe positions, and is a great way of priming an objective for an attack. There’s really nothing bad to say about good ‘ol Sledge. He’s just fantastically balanced.
With Sledge, she's the only soft breacher who can make a big hole without warning. Then again, her utility (concussing and breaching) is something almost every attacker can carry in weaker forms. Her M762 assault rifle is great for mid-to-long range, and despite her slower speed, Zofia is a great way to bring the destruction of Ash while having more concussion that’s safer to use.
A unique tank who can fully protect himself from one direction with an extendable shield, Montagne's presence can make defenders uncomfortable. But if his teammates don't support him, he can equally find himself in awkward situations, unable to lower his guard without getting killed.
Unlike Montagne, he's got gaps in his armor: small segments of Blitz's hitboxes are exposed, even when he's crouching. In close, though, his ability to blind enemies without dropping his guard is paralyzing. But with a recent buff that increased his speed and allowed him keep his shield up while sprinting, he has become a defender’s worst nightmare if you find yourselves alone together.
Small hitboxes, highly mobile, and the ability to breach ceilings. For players that favor aggression, Ash is still a reasonable pick in the current meta.
In January 2018, his Para-308 AR got a buff from 43 to 48 base damage, along with slightly reduced recoil, changes that made it a much better primary weapon. His gadget, however, remains situational.
Capitão's flame crossbow bolt can kill or flush out defenders who are camping around a corner, but you'd often rather just shoot someone than fling a gadget arrow at them. Though, with Clash now in the picture on the defender side, Cap’s crossbow has emerged as an excellent counter when fired at her feet.
Versatility. Buck's combo shotgun/AR or shotgun/marksman rifle mean he can adapt for different situations more quickly than other characters. His shotgun is a great tool for ambushing anchors through soft walls. He's also one of the only attackers who carries frag grenades, an excellent piece of kit.
After months of players trying to figure out Dokkaebi’s position in the meta, it has become clear that she excels as a supportive attacker. Her two Logic Bombs are useful when timed with attack pushes or for rooting out roamers. Her camera hacking has seen a buff with all of the new types of cameras that have joined the fray, like Evil Eyes, bulletproof cameras, and both Yokai drones.
She’s also one of the few attackers with access to smoke grenades, making her great for planting the defuser or pursuing the hostage. With the new recoil system introduced with Operation Grim Sky, SMGs have taken a big hit to their viability. The recoil of Dokk’s SMG-12 is now a bucking bull. Fire it in bursts or let loose at extremely close range. Her MK14 rifle picks up the slack in long-range engagements with particularly controllable recoil and potential for high damage output.
Another supportive attacker, Jackal excels at making life harder for roamers, and easier for his allies. His ability to track footprints can not only help allies engaged in firefights across the map, but also make for the occasional wallbang kill. His secondary shotgun is almost like having a small version of Sledge’s hammer. It’s a handy tool for opening doors, windows, and quick murder holes in ceilings/floors.
He’s also equipped with smoke grenades, making him excellent for targeted assaults onto positions where you’ve tracked an enemy. His C7 is one of the most controllable and accurate assault rifles in the game.
One of Siege's longest-enduring memes, Fuze is famously a bad idea in hostage situations. His indiscriminate grenade launchers spit bombs through any soft surface over a radius of a few meters, hurling in semi-random arcs that are usually easy to avoid. These explosive pucks can help take out enemy gadgets, but they also won't spare the lives of any valuable drones your teammates have snuck onto an objective. Useful and fun for newcomers looking for easy kills and destruction.
Siege's sole true sniper, Glaz's high-penetration bullets are lethal on a few bombsites, like the garage on House, but his lack of utility and versatility is too frequently a liability. He's not who I'd want in a 1v3 with 60 seconds on the clock. Tunnel vision is also a problem, leaving him open to counter-peeking outside his field of view.
Mute or Bandit
On many maps and in most objective rooms, you're gonna want to deny breaching of a couple critical surfaces. Mute and Bandit's gadgets provide an extra layer of defense to reinforced walls—either will block Hibana or Thermite's breaching charges. And both of these operators have the added benefit of being a nuisance to drones.
If your opponent is dumb enough to not bring a Thatcher, Mute or Bandit will make life a lot harder for them. Mute's utility has only gone up in Operation Chimera, with his jammers acting as a hard counter to Lion's scan.
Rook or Doc
For inexperienced players, Rook and Doc are safe bets. Having a durable anchor on your team who plays on or near the objective is a good idea. Rook improves the survivability on everyone on the team with his bag of armor plates (known colloquially as t-shirts or sweaters), and Doc, if he stays alive, can erase damage. Both of these defenders can attach ACOG scopes, too, allowing them to guard chokepoints from a safer distance.
An excellent anchor, Smoke can literally cover chokepoints with his asphyxiating gas grenades. The gadget allows him to 'eat' the clock better than any other operator: he can block entry to single-room objectives (hostage, secure area) with the poison cloud, daring enemies to run through it and risk death. His kit is also pretty strong: an SMG primary or secondary, and the option of barbed wire or impact nades. Though, with the recent nerf to SMG recoil, his SMG-11 is no longer the unofficial primary weapon it used to be.
Though his ACOG scope was taken away in a 2017 nerf, Jäger's mobility and 416-C Carbine make him an effective defender for players who like to play fast and peek aggressively. His gadget shuts down attackers like Thatcher, Ash, Fuse, and even Hibana in some situations, in addition to eating up the stun, frag, or smoke grenades that most operators can carry.
Speedy and versatile, with thin hitboxes and one of the best traps in the game right now. Lurk around the corner from one of your concussion mines and peek after it triggers to catch dazed attackers.
Seen often in high-level play, her one-way mirrors are powerful deterrents, and practically obligatory on a few objective rooms. One common strategy is to pop a small hole just outside the edge of her gadget's window, then lean out to shoot through it after you've watched someone through the one-way mirror. I'm less keen on Mira's fast-firing SMG, which is a little too hot to handle.
Knowledge is power, and Valkyrie's sticky, throwable cameras can potentially feed your team with information. Half the battle, though, is knowing where to put them—Siege has 19 maps, and each map has a handful of objective rooms, so you might have to memorize 40 or 50 camera positions to truly maximize her ability. Here's an easy one: remove a barricade and toss one of her cameras outside at the start of a round to give your team another external view.
Viable, but not essential
Dubbed the “ultimate roamer” by Ubi before her release, Alibi’s kit excels at roaming around the map and wasting the enemy’s time. Her Prisma decoys are great for playing mind games with the attackers when used either outside or inside the objective. At worst, they’ll slow the attackers down. And at best, they’ll shoot the decoys and broadcast their position to your entire team. Her Storm SMG is amazing at close range, so capitalizing on those fooled by the Prisma is a deadly combo.
After months in the meta, most players are accustomed to Alibi's tricks. Ubi may have to shake up her kit in 2019.
One of the most radically unique operators in Siege, Clash is the very first defending shield operator. Her electro shield is functionally similar to Montagne’s extending shield, except Clash’s shield is always extended and she can’t melee or shoot while it’s equipped. What she can do is electrify enemies to slow down and damage them for a few seconds. This ability is simply a nuisance when she’s working alone, but powerful when backed up by teammates capitalizing on disadvantaged enemies.
Clash can be a great help with backup, but becomes a mediocre anchor with a good machine pistol when alone. Because of this, the chips have to fall in place for her to be utilized completely, and that takes coordination that isn’t always easy to come by in Siege. If “professional Monty” is already your specialty, then Clash is a fun and refreshing take on that role. But make sure you trust your squad to back you up when needed.
The most dangerous thing in cargo shorts since Lara Croft, Lesion carries a great SMG and a gadget that hurts the enemy while providing some passive info—enemies yelp in pain when they step on the trap, can't can't sprint until they pull it out. The key is staying alive long enough to maximize the distribution of his Gu mines. Pair his gadget with Frost's bear trap to create a potential insta-kill.
A genetically-engineered superlurker, Cav can sprint silently in bursts of about 10 seconds by activating Silent Step. Players who excel at using cameras (or simply their ears) to locate enemies can use this quiet movement to stage crushing ambushes. And if Cav can isolate an enemy, she can perform a melee takedown 'interrogation' to temporarily reveal the position of all remaining enemies—pulling this off usually guarantees a win.
Last year, Kapkan received a rework to his kit that completely altered his play style. He’s now a two-speed and has five traps that no longer have laser tripwires, making them much easier to walk into. He can also take impact grenades, opening him up to be an effective roamer with traps scattered across the map. Clever placement of his traps can make a big difference in firefights when the attackers have already lost most of their health to them. Kapkan also has access to the excellent VSN SMG and SASG shotguns, each one of the best in their classes.
An insane annoyance, in the right hands. His drones are the only ones in the game that can stick to ceilings, where it perches invisibly as an elevated camera, ready to smack attackers with disorienting ultrasonic bursts (another form of concussion, basically). After a recent buff that gave him an extra Yokai drone, he feels much more viable as an anchor who can watch multiple points of entry and still protect his own body. But still, he’s an operator who takes tight team coordination and timing to truly maximize, and talented players can shoot accurately while concussed, negating much of the impact of his unique ability.
Pulse sniffs out enemy movement with his heartbeat monitor. The option of a nitro charge allows him to play below a bombsite, using his handheld wallhack in combination with the C4 to blow up attackers from safety. He's a strong lurker who can feed info to his teammates, but his gadget takes more finesse to operate than it seems.
Maestro performs great on many maps, but an adjustment to the recoil behavior of his LMG in October 2018 pushes him a bit down our list. His gadget, the Evil Eye, remains a multi-purpose bulletproof spotting tool and harassment turret—one of the best gadgets in the game in some objective rooms. Place these strategically in or around the objective to make effective call-outs, destroy attacking gadgets with the laser, and even take down enemies with annoying zaps of five health at a time.
A tough one to grade. In the hands of a crack shot, his slug-firing shotgun is devastating, and one of the few guns in the game that can quickly break a Blackbeard. His K1A SMG is an excellent weapon at close-to-mid range, making him a generally good roamer. I go back and forth on the usefulness of his ability, which cloaks him from drones and cameras, but signals his general presence in the process. For me, knowing that Vigil's somewhere in a room is usually about the same thing as knowing exactly where he is, and he can't cloak forever.
She's fun, but nine out of ten experienced players will dispatch Frost's ankle-biting 'welcome mats' before stepping into them. Her SMG is also one of the slower-firing guns of its type in Siege, a game where any headshot is a one-hit kill.
Castle's walls can often be as much of an obstacle for defenders as they are for attackers, denying flank routes and preventing barricade wallbangs. They make the room you're trying to guard more rigid, but often that inflexibility can make your defense more predictable. With a well-organized defense, his barricades can come in handy on some maps, but he’s hard to recommend to players without a tight gameplan.
No amount of buffs can fix the Spetznaz soldier affectionately known as "Our Lord and Savior." If it's your first time playing Siege, Tachanka's shielded, static turret might seem powerful: it's a big gun fed by a big, 61-round frisbee that can cover a hallway or chokepoint. Unfortunately, it's countered by the most mundane gadget in the game: a drone. Revealing Tachanka's position almost instantly undoes his effectiveness, and the small rotation radius of the turret limits the positions he can place it. Otherwise, his mag-fed shotgun is a disaster. May he live on in memes. Amen.