Flores, Rainbow Six Siege's first Year 6 operator and its first gay character on the roster, is coming to blow up your favorite toy. As simple as he is effective, there is no shortage of ways to cause havoc with his fleet of exploding drones. I haven't had this much fun destroying stuff in Siege since my first ever swing of Sledge's hammer.
Unlike Twitch, Siege's other offensive droner, Flores (a 2-speed 2-armor attacker) doesn't care for subtlety. His RCE-Ratero drones are bulky, clacking ground vehicles that can single-handedly remodel a bomb site. Standing at the epicenter of its explosion is instant death for operators, but don't worry, this is no Call of Duty RC-XD. The Ratero is vulnerable to gunfire until it hunkers down in place and starts a three-second timer to detonation. That's a generous chunk of time to get out of the way, but being forced out of a safe corner can be just as deadly in Siege as a bomb.
Still, you shouldn't deploy his drone expecting to get a kill. Flores excels at dismantling defensive hardware from the inside out—Evil Eyes, Bandit batteries, Yokai drones, everything that can blow up is an easy target for Flores.
Each of his four Rateros have roughly the same explosive radius as Ash or Zofia's grenades, making him a worthy replacement for either on a balanced team. Even better, Flores' drones can't be countered by Jäger or Wamai's grenade-snatching gadgets. That job should be handled by Mute and Mozzie (who can't hijack the Ratero, disappointingly, but will destroy it with a pest). The Ratero will also stick to whatever surface it's touching when its fuse starts, allowing Flores to jump it onto a wall like a breach charge or catch an Evil Eye at eye level. With a new disruptive drone on the scene to join Twitch, defenders will have to go the extra mile to anticipate attacker picks and plan accordingly.
Flores brings an aggressive loadout to match his explosive tendencies.
Primary weapons: AR33 assault rifle, SR-25 DMR
Secondary weapon: GSh-18 pistol
Secondary gadgets: Claymore, Stun grenades
Times are undeniably getting tougher for defenders. In a conscious effort by Ubi to tweak the meta after a year with Siege's unpopular "20-second meta" prominent at high levels of play, attackers are getting new tools to peel away defenses (including the new mini-Ash GONNE 6 secondary weapon also releasing with Crimson Heist).
Four explodey cars is a ton of potential destruction for a single round. Flores alone brings almost as much utility as both Zofia and Ash combined. I asked game designer Emilien Lomet how this will feel balanced in action and he argued that the Ratero's fragility will limit its usefulness. Similar to Sam Fisher's four Argus cameras, Lomet says players are likely to immediately lose a few drones to gunfire before one hits its mark. That aligns with my experience playing Flores during the closed preview event, give-or-take some successes that can be attributed to enemies still being unfamiliar with the drone.
I can't wait to flex the Ratero's capabilities on public servers, but I'm also nervous to have another drone to worry about on defense. I'm a dedicated anchor, so the idea of getting flushed out of my preferred spot by a drone that can blow me up in a single move is chilling. If I'm already in an unfavorable clutch scenario, I'll have to pray Flores isn't among the living.
The GONNE-6 is a new secondary weapon that fires a single micro explosive capable to destroy any bulletproof gadget.
A late first
Not only is Flores Siege's first operator to hail from Argentina, but a single line in his bio (and an animated short I'm told will be premiering when this story goes live) reveals that he's also the first openly gay character in the game. I asked game director Jean-Baptiste Halle if this means players should expect to see more diverse identities on Siege's roster moving forward.
"You definitely can. It's something that's very, very dear to our hearts to make everyone feel welcome and make everyone feel like they can identify with different people in our cast. It's really important that everyone feels like they have a place and can be represented in our game," he said. "You can expect more operators who identify with different genders and have different sexualities. It's something that we're trying to improve on."
That's an encouraging sentiment, though it's disappointing that it took five years and 59 operators to finally see an LGBTQIA+ character in the game. Siege enjoys a culturally diverse cast of men and women that represent 26 countries, but only in the past two years has Ubisoft had more to say about its characters than how good they are at killing and which CTU/military they belong to. Flores is the second op (after last year's Oryx) that isn't affiliated with any military or police force other than Rainbow. He's described as a Robin Hood-type thief from the Flores district of Buenos Aires that steals from the rich and corrupt. That's a stark contrast from the Tom Clancy stories that the game's name derives from.
Siege is moving further from its geopolitical-drama origins and closer to a modern G.I. Joe or, as art director Alex Karpazis refers to it, a "sports combat game." Part of this shift is a new emphasis on diversifying operator identities, but with five years of roster updates already behind it, Ubi will always be playing catch up in that regard.