What if I told you that, somehow, Sam Fisher’s debut wasn’t the most exciting change coming in Rainbow Six Siege Operation Shadow Legacy (opens in new tab)? Don’t get me wrong, he’s great (opens in new tab), but this update is packed with small features and quality-of-life changes that will drastically change how the game is played.
We’re talking map bans, a Lenscrafters' worth of new scopes, a Thatcher rework, and a new secondary gadget that makes Nøkk and Amaru hard breachers. ACOGs are rare, pings are more useful, and Chalet might be a great map now? Times are changing in Siege, and I’m psyched.
If you haven't played Siege in a while, check out our list of the best Rainbow Six Siege operators (opens in new tab) updated for Year 5 Season 2.
I’ve enjoyed every map rework that Ubi has cranked out over the past year, but none have made a better first impression than the changes introduced in this update to Chalet. Similar to Season 1’s Oregon rework, I see a sweeping effort to add new rotations on and between bomb sites without adding a bunch of unnecessary rooms or changing the identity of each site.
The highlight for me is the downstairs, Snowmobile Garage/Wine Cellar specifically. These rooms are now linked by an extended Blue Hallway in addition to the old Connector route, giving defenders cover against attackers pushing the Library stairs. Wine Cellar itself has been converted to an open donut-shaped layout that gives anchors room to breathe while keeping the same angles vulnerable to breaching.
I’m also impressed with the renovated Master Bedroom/Office area. That miserable exterior balcony with the metal railings? Gone and replaced by an indoor Solarium that links to the first floor Trophy Room with a new staircase. The thinner side balconies are gone too, but the windows can still be accessed by rappelling. Nice.
Old Chalet is a launch map with a lot of quirks, so it’s refreshing to see basically every complaint I can think of addressed in some way. I’m excited to try the map in a more competitive setting.
Ubi has rarely touched its small collection of weapon sights over the years, but Shadow Legacy is simultaneously dropping four new scopes into the mix and completely reworking who gets what. No operator has gone untouched.
With the introduction of the 1.5X, 2X, and 3X especially, Ubi has more ways to encourage specific playstyles. From what I gathered poring over every operator’s new sight options, Ubi is placing a bigger premium than ever on the ACOG (now dubbed the 2.5X scope to reflect its magnification). Very few attacking weapons still have access to the scope, most of them falling to assault rifles with a low fire rate, like Sledge’s L85A2. Now, most assault rifles are capped at the 2X scope.Based on preference, that could be viewed as a nerf or buff. The 2X can’t see quite as far, but it allows a wider FOV and a clean cross-shaped sight picture.
And no, Ash’s R4-C is still stuck with the holographic. Sorry (not sorry).
On defense, almost every SMG can attach the new 1.5X scope, a simple red-ringed sight with a chunky center dot. It’s a pretty big upgrade for good SMGs that were previously stuck with holographics, like Lesion’s T-5 SMG. Defender SMGs that previously had ACOGs have been bumped down to the 2X scope as well, with the exception of Doc’s cap at 1.5X on the MP5 (you’ve earned this, spawn peekers). As for the 3X scope, you’ll only find that on the DMRs of Twitch, Dokkaebi, Buck, Lion, and Blackbeard. It’s a range bonus to weapons meant to be effective at long-range.
Weapon sights used to feel consistent based on the weapon, but this balancing pass has made it clear that Ubi is balancing according to the operator. If that means that Sledge can still take an ACOG but Thatcher can’t on the same rifle, so be it. In all, it's a potentially big shakeup to the gun meta.
Hard breaching evolved
Hard breaching used to be an exclusive club of two or three attackers, but the new secondary Hard Breaching Charge is blowing a medium-sized hole in that trend. This square-shaped piece of scaffolding can cut a hole big enough to vault or crouch through or crack open a reinforced hatch. It's a very useful secondary gadget. As such, Ubi is limiting it to only five attackers: Nøkk, Amaru, Capitão, Ying, and Montagne.
Will you still need to run a dedicated hard breacher like Thermite, Hibana, or Ace? According to Ubi, part of the goal is to make hard breachers less important to a well-balanced team. Right now diving into a serious match without a hard breacher in every round is a surefire disadvantage.
Dedicated breachers are still the best pick for big site pushes, but they’re no longer the only choice. With this new gadget in play, you can still poke your way into key hatches or walls while bringing offbeat ops like Nøkk that don’t usually make the cut. It’s a smart meta shift on Ubi’s part that doesn't add any new mechanics to the game, though I question how the balance will work out once everyone has their hands on it.
Kapkan mains, you can finally take a breath. In Shadow Legacy, defenders now share all 10 reinforcements in a single pool. That means that a single roamer could run upstairs and reinforce four hatches while Kapkan focuses on laying traps. No longer do you have to spam ping the last section of a wall while Ela ignores your plea to reinforce. Finally, you can just do it yourself. It’s a truly beautiful thing—I had a genuine emotional reaction the first time I saw it (I’ve been inside since March).
How did this not happen years ago? It feels so obvious that this is how reinforcement should work. Of course, the shared pool also opens the possibility of trolls to waste more than their even share of reinforcements, but that’s a pretty high-effort/low payoff tactic that I don’t see becoming common.
Thatcher’s final form
Ubi has finally completed the Thatcher rework that it began over a year ago. Starting with Shadow Legacy, his EMP Grenades will only temporarily disable defender gadgets, never destroy them. That applies to everything: cameras, Gu mines, ADSes, and yes, even Bandit batteries. It’s a well-timed nerf, considering Thatcher’s recent uptick in Ranked bans.
This is an obvious nerf for Thatcher, but not in the most important way. When it comes to thwarting Bandit on a wall, shutting off his batteries actually adds a new step to the Bandit Trick. When the EMP goes off, Bandit now has to choose whether to pick up and replace the battery or just shoot it, all the while determining which wall the attackers are about to attempt a breach on.
Pinging is getting its first meaningful change in almost five years. With Ping 2.0, pinging is now contextual based on what you’re looking at. Now, pining any gadget will mark it with an identifying icon for all teammates to see. If the gadget pinged is a primary tool, like Maestro’s Evil Eye camera, Maestro’s identity will also be revealed.
Ping 2.0 is a great start, but I don’t think it satisfies what fans have actually asked for: an expanded command list for pings that covers communication usually limited to voice/text chat. I want to mark a wall with a symbol that means “breach this” or ping a staircase with a “heard footsteps” warning. Ubi told me earlier this year that this is only the first iteration of Ping 2.0, so it may get there someday.
Ubi is making map assignment in Ranked and Unranked a little less random in Shadow Legacy. Instead of loading into a completely random map, both teams will each veto one map of a random pool of three. The last map standing is the one that’s chosen. I like the idea of using map bans to potentially avoid a map that I’ve already played a few times that day, but I’m nervous it’ll actually have the opposite effect. A crowd-pleasing map like Clubhouse or Oregon might always win a vote against Outback or Coastline. I still like those maps too, so it’d suck to see their play rate drop in favor of what’s most popular.