Rainbow Six Siege: Shadow Legacy is going to be huge. Season 3 of Year 5 will be Siege's first in its transition to a single-operator release schedule. The strategy appears to be working so far: It means we're getting one of the most fun operators in years (opens in new tab).
With the extra time saved by releasing one fewer operator, Ubi has been working on a pile of quality-of-life features and welcome additions to the meta. So much is different heading into this season that it's clear Siege is on the cusp of a new era.
So, here's every big change coming as part of Rainbow Six Siege: Operation Shadow Legacy and when you can expect to play it.
When do Rainbow Six Siege: Shadow Legacy release?
Ubisoft has not given an official release date for Operation Shadow Legacy, but with the Technical Test Server underway, we can make a good guess. Test servers usually run for three to four weeks before releasing on the live build.
So, with that in mind, Shadow Legacy should release sometime between September 7-18, 2020.
The Siege team's transition to work-from-home caused the Season 2 test server to run for an additional week, so that may be the case again with Season 3.
Who is the Shadow Legacy operator, Zero?
Shadow Legacy's new operator is Sam 'Zero' Fisher, a 2-speed, 2-armor attacker joining Rainbow as an instructor. If the name sounds familiar, that's because he's the protagonist of another Tom Clancy series: Splinter Cell. This is the first time that another Clancy character has crossed over into Siege, though Fisher has also made recent appearances in the Ghost Recon franchise.
Now 63, Fisher isn't joining Rainbow from a specific CTU. He's part of the Rainbow Operation Staff, a new in-lore group that may be used in the future for more crossovers. Fisher has a decorated past in the Navy SEALS, but in the Splinter Cell series, he dons his iconic night vision goggles and covertly executes improbable military fiction missions (thwarting terrorist attacks, preventing World War 3—that type of thing).
In Siege, Sam hangs up the goggles for a loadout suited for R6's fast-paced firefights.
Cool, but what does his gadget do?
Sam's gadget is the Argus, a handheld launcher that can deploy up to four drill cameras from a distance. When deployed on a breachable wall or floor (included reinforced walls and hatches), the Argus camera will drill through the surface to view the other side. Sam can also fire a single laser from each camera capable of destroying defender gadgets or causing minor damage to players.
While Sam is operating his cameras, he can also turn the camera around to view the other side of the surface on which it's deployed. The laser and switch functions can only be performed by Sam, but any teammate can see through the camera, scan enemies, and ping.
The Argus is a powerful intel tool that can easily be used offensively or defensively. That said, the cameras shine an obvious yellow light when in use and are susceptible to Mute jammers, electricity, and ADS/MAG-NET traps.
Sam is also equipped with Siege's first new weapon in a long time: the SC3000K assault rifle. It has very strong stats for its relatively low recoil, but its 25-round magazine is a notable weakness if you're using it to take on multiple hostiles at once.
Rainbow Six Siege: Shadow Legacy map rework - Chalet
Following reworks for Oregon and House in Seasons 1 and 2, Chalet is the next launch map on the docket. New Chalet still holds much of the same visual identity as the original version, but every bomb site has seen significant layout changes.
Most notably, Blue Hallway in the bottom floor Garage/Wine Cellar site has been extended to connect the two bombs. The 90-degree hallway created by this extension is a powerful new chokepoint for defenders to control.
Upstairs near the Master Bedroom/Office site, the entire bedroom landing has been demolished and replaced with the Solarium—an enclosed space with a new staircase that links to the first floor Trophy Room. The first floor bar has been widened and a new bar corridor links directly to the Game Room to give players more rotational options on defense.
New sights and scopes are on the way
Possibly Shadow Legacy's widest change is the complete rework of weapon sights. While most weapons will still have access to the same 1X sights like the Red Dot and Reflex, the power balance has shifted for almost every operator with regards to magnification. ACOGs are rare now, and many attackers are now capped at either the new 1.5X or 2X scopes. DMRs have been gifted a new 3X scope exclusive to that weapon class.
On the defender side, most SMGs can now take the 1.5X scope, a significant boost for operators that have always been at a huge disadvantage at medium and long range against attackers. The MP5 SMGs that used to be ACOG-compatible are now capped at either the 1.5X or 2X scope (including Echo's MP5SD). The BOSG and TCSG slug shotguns of Vigil, Kaid, and Goyo can use the new 2.5X scope.
If you're wondering about a specific operator's loadout, refer to this handy (if a little overwhelming) graphic provided by Ubi. Broadly, just know that attackers will still have an edge in magnification over the defenders, though the gap has narrowed considerably.
The secondary Hard Breach Charge changes the breaching dynamic
In Shadow Legacy, hard breaching won't be a job limited to dedicated breachers like Thermite, Hibana, or Ace. The new secondary Hard Breaching Charge gadget is a single-use thermite explosive that creates a square hole in reinforced walls big enough to vault or crouch walk through. It can also open a reinforced hatch.
Here are the eight operators that can choose the gadget:
The secondary hard breach has a comparatively slow fuse that can be easily anticipated by Bandit or Kaid. The charge also starts breaching the moment it's placed, so it cannot be remotely detonated.
Reinforcement pools will make prep phases a breeze
To make the lives of all players easier, reinforcements in Shadow Legacy will be pooled into a set of ten that the entire team can use freely. That means a single defender can reinforce a huge 4-reinforcement wall while another runs upstairs and secures every hatch by themselves.
It may seem like a small touch, but it will have a huge impact on efficiency during the Prep Phase with an even larger payoff for teams who coordinate placement.
Ping 2.0 improves non-verbal communication
Ping 2.0 adds a bit of context to your pings depending on where you make them. Pinging a gadget will now mark it with that gadget's symbol and reveal the owner's identity, if they weren't already known. Each player's ping is also now numbered so team's can more easily communicate whose marks are whose.
Ubi hasn't said anything official about expansions to this ping system, but the studio is open to exploring more elaborate pinging options seen in Apex Legends, Valorant, and its new battle royale game, Hyper Scape.
Map bans give players more control
Similar to the operator pick and ban system introduced in Year 4, map bans for ranked and unranked allow each team to veto one map each from a group of three. The last map standing after the veto wins. If both teams eliminate the same map, a random one is chosen from the remaining two.