During a Reddit AMA discussing operator balance and today’s big 2.2 patch announcement for Rainbow Six Siege, Ubisoft devs from the balancing team shared some aspirations and hinted at a few plans for operators that are in the works. Most notably, Ubi is not happy with one of the most popular operators in the game: Thatcher.
Redditor Jay-Aaron wanted to know why Thatcher’s EMP grenades can’t destroy Alibi’s Prisma decoys and Maestro’s Evil Eye cameras. Typically, the EMP is a surefire way to permanently disable any electronic on the defender side. In response, game designer Jean-Baptiste Hallé said that this is because the team isn’t satisfied with the way Thatcher is played right now.
“EMP [temporarily] disabling things like Alibi's Prisma, Maestro's Turrets, or Bullet Proof Cameras are first steps towards bigger changes that we have in mind for Thatcher. In general, we are not satisfied with the interaction of the EMP and electronic gadgets when this interaction is a simple destruction. We believe that it is often too binary and doesn't leave enough room for counterplays,” Hallé said.
By “too binary,” Hallé refers to a gadget that doesn’t leave itself open to creative use. With Thatcher, you simply throw his EMP grenade. If it blows up anywhere near an electronic, it’s gone. The power and simplicity of this ability has dictated large parts of the meta since the game’s launch. Compare this tactic to similar operators like IQ and Twitch, whose gadgets require timing, positioning, stealth, and inherent risk to make the same impact that Thatcher can by simply tossing an EMP from outside.
It’s this type of gadget that Hallé believes is inherently problematic. Redditor ASCIIPASCII put it best with how this relates to trap operators like Kapkan and Frost. “Personally, I've always felt like traps like those of Frost (or pre-nerf Kapkan), capable of killing or downing an attacker from full health with only a single trap is too hard to balance in regard to the current meta. Leaving them either very much overpowered or underpowered depending on how they are designed.”
Hallé agreed with the commenter, citing Kapkan’s recent rework as an effort to curb an ability that was too binary. Siege data scientist Geoffroy Mouret also chimed in, saying they “want to avoid ‘all-or-nothing’ situations and have more consistent mechanics.” Instead of instantly killing an enemy upon triggering, Kapkan’s traps now explode for 60 damage and are much easier to hide.
Keeping with today’s theme of overly binary abilities, user research project manager Julien Huguenin touched on one fan’s concerns with Blitz being too weak when far away, and too strong up close. “Blitz is a tricky operator to balance—he can easily swing between being much too strong or too weak as the shield mechanic is rather binary as of now,” Huguenin said. He also went on to hint at future efforts to make shields less annoying, saying “we have larger plans in the future to give more counter to the defending operator when facing a Shield at close range.”
We got a few other coy references to future features, too, like a mysterious Mute buff and a gadget for next season that might focus on slowing attackers down. The devs are also looking into Capitão’s asphyxiation bolts to make them more consistent and useful.