Ubisoft is making major changes to how damage is dealt in Rainbow Six Siege

rainbow six siege shifting tides
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

At the start of Operation Shifting Tides, bullets in Rainbow Six Siege will be a bit more potent. Ubisoft is currently testing a new limb penetration system that allows bullets to travel through one limb and into another. Shots from most guns will now "upgrade" to count against the highest-value body part in their path. If you hit both a chest hitbox and an arm hitbox, the chest hitbox is what will register.

Ubi hopes the system will “reduce the impression of inaccurate hit registration” and make it clearer where a bullet will land, but it’s important to understand that not all guns behave equally under this new system. Ubi put together the handy graphic below that shows the basics of limb penetration.

rainbow six siege limb penetration

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

In the new update, all of Siege’s 101 weapons fall into one of three groups: full, simple, and no penetration. Most weapons (assault rifles, LMGs, SMGs, pistols, and revolvers) have simple penetration, meaning that bullets will travel through limbs on a single target. DMRs and sniper rifles (including Glaz’s OTs-03 and Kali’s new CSRX 300 rifle) have full penetration, meaning bullets will travel through limbs and even multiple bodies. Each subsequent body passed through will only receive 70 percent of the initial damage. Shotguns and machine pistols have no penetration, so a shot to the arm is stopped in its tracks. 

Level penetration is unchanged by the new system, so most weapons will still only penetrate one wall per shot.

Until now, a shot aimed at a head could sometimes be blocked by arms and lose you a kill. This is particularly noticeable with an animation that covers an operator’s face with their hand when flashed by Blitz or a grenade. Under the new system, you can clearly see when a bullet travels through an arm and impacts the torso behind it. Damage doesn’t stack with every limb a bullet penetrates. Instead, damage is dealt based on the most deadly area in the bullet’s path. For instance, a shot through the arm and into the chest will only deal chest damage.

Penetration isn’t the only thing changing under the new system, though. Shots to hands and arms, which used to count the same as a torso shot, now only deal 75 percent damage to 1 and 2-armor ops and 65 percent damage to 3-armor ops, the same as leg shots. This will have a bigger shift to firefights than you might think. Getting shot in an arm or hand as it’s poking around a corner use to carry the full punishment of a chest shot. Dampening that damage feels fairer and will make everyone generally more survivable.

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Body Damage Multipliers - Operation Shifting Tides
Header Cell - Column 0 1 Armor2 Armor3 Armor

For weapons with no limb penetration, less damage to arms and hands could effectively become a nerf. Shotguns have a wide enough spread that weaker arm shots likely won’t make a difference, but it could with machine pistols. More than ever, it’ll be important to aim for the upper torso and let the recoil rise into a headshot.

There’s also one important limitation to penetration that I’m calling the Lower Back Rule. “Should a bullet pass through two of either of the following: chest, neck, or head - only the 1st area hit will be accounted to calculate damage. This avoids issues where hitting the lower back of an operator results in a headshot.”

A bit confusing, but you can see the Lower Back Rule in action above. Bullets cannot travel up through the torso and into the neck or head. Think of the torso like a stone wall for damage. If it’s the first area shot, it’s the only damage calculated on that body.

In most situations, the limb penetration system won’t be noticeably different from how the game plays now, though it’s great that limb blocking will no longer muddy the waters of a supposed chest or head shot. Full penetration is where things get interesting, though. It’s a new reason to take a reliable DMR over an assault rifle, especially against a disorganized team that funnels in from the same direction.

It’s especially exciting for Siege’s new resident sniper, Kali. On top of having full penetration, her rifle can also pierce through as many soft walls as you can throw at it. Here’s a test clip where a friend shoots me through three soft walls on the new Theme Park. With limb penetration in mind, it’s not hard to imagine other enemies (or friendlies) getting caught in the crossfire.

Limb penetration expands the visual calculus that Siege players need to minimize exposure and maximize lethality. Should be a fun adjustment.

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.