Rainbow 6 Siege “Operation Red Crow” (Season 4) Update Impressions, Operator Analysis & New Gameplay Meta

Operation: Red Crow has been out for around a week now so now may be a good time to share some early impressions and discuss how Siege is evolving. Red Crow has been a massive and super satisfying update for Rainbow Six Siege. Many of the content farm sites have focused on the bug fixes and new Japanese operators but they’ve missed out on some key details and insights.

Yes, there’s tons new skins, victory animations, and visual tweaks. Kapkan, Sledge, and Thermite are amongst the first to receive ELITE skins.. If you got the coin, these skins are pretty damn impressive! There’s also complete uniforms, new headgear, and more cosmetic goodness. That’s all nifty and encouraging because it shows commitment to keep the game fresh and give us all ways to stand out (and support a fantastic game).

Sledge is the King Of Scottland??

…Cool story, bro!  What about the Season 4 impacts to gameplay, particularly ranked?

Rainbow Six Siege: Casual Vs. Ranked Competitive Multiplayer (PvP)

While I love Terrorist Hunt and Situations are a nice challenge, the competitive multiplayer is my bread and butter on Rainbow Six Siege. Heck, I don’t really play anything outside of ranked, though custom games can be good for funsies and lulz. I’d like to discuss what I’ve noticed so far since the update.

First off, Casual is surprisingly less competitive than it used to be, yet matchmaking is much faster and reliable there. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise. At the start of every new season, we competitive gamers flock to the ranked queue. Even the casual folks seem to gravitate towards ranked, which is good and bad (don’t get me started on the habitual leavers and AFKers). Once people hit gold or platinum in the last few days or weeks of the season, they’ll stay in casual to maintain their precious ranks. Siege Season 4 looks like it will be no different but I have to say: the tryhards are really out in full force! I ended last season around Gold IV and now I’m struggling to get back to Silver, mostly because people dick around too much in ranked.

It’s this dynamic that has created a frustrating experience in Rainbow Six Siege and other competitive shooters. Eventually, high-ranked players won’t see any incentive in risking their MMR and they certainly won’t play with their friends, if they consider them less skilled. Players will leave matches just to avoid losing a rank, even if there’s still a good chance it could be won. These issues are compounded further by the fact that ranked matches seem to have a higher rate of disconnection and split squads. Without the slot backfill you get in casual, it leaves teams crippled.  Rage quitters and rank preservers are really ruining the game and ending friendships.  It’s silly.

Mr. Rage Quit | Is this you? If so, STOP IT!

I believe Ubisoft will address these issues well before Year Two content is announced or leaked. They have already committed to at least one more year of steady content so they’ll do what they can to have the platform succeed.. And we, the players, want it to succeed! In spite of the glaring issues with ranked play and how brutal the first few weeks of the season are with all the tryhards, competitive play is where it’s at for me so I’ll stick through it. Ubisoft has also hinted that they don’t think they’ll keep pushing out new operators in the long run so, eventually, we’ll see the game stabilize a lot more.

Now, the change with the biggest impact this season is the shorter rounds. Ranked round timers are now a minute shorter. Ubisoft says this is just a test and the goal is to get people more coordinated and efficient with their decision making. The actual effect is that it makes pick-up groups even less fun and even people whom regularly play together find themselves running out of time. Every match I’ve played in seems to come down to the last 30 seconds or so.

MEME: Never seen war war before? Oh, it's just like Call Of Duty. (NOT!)

I appreciate the design logic behind the faster rounds but the unintended results suck. People are droning far less so, when your team gets wiped, you have no cams. As such, instead of getting players to embrace the intended gameplay experience, what we’re seeing is more Call Of Duty style gameplay: lone wolf players running-and-gunning, not communicating or working together. While blitzing is a perfectly viable strategy, I don’t want to see this game devolve from tactical shooter to pew-pew-pew-WHEEEEE clusterfuck.

Rainbow Six Siege Essentials: Game Stability & Health

As one might expect, disconnections are once again very common and they’re messing with the high we should otherwise be experiencing. I’m not sure if people are plug-pulling more (yes, that’s still a thing) but I’ve been in squads where entire sessions were split once someone quit. I’m talking my whole squad is sent back to the matchmaking lobby.

What’s worse is that may get hit with an abandon penalty even if the game farts and drops players. That’s a 15 minute time-out just because the game decided to drop you randomly. Now, the penalty is not happening as much with unavoidable disconnections as it did in Season 3 but it’s still a thing.. and it shouldn’t be at all. I also find the players with the worst connections (you know, the ones who take FOREVER to load) seem to be disrupting sessions.

Season 3 was very much about improving game health and stability. I think this season will continue those efforts. The patch notes show they are addressing exploits and session management so Ubisoft is aware of the issues. What I’ve seen is that, any time they release major updates, things break. That’s just the development cycle but I would hope they at least get rid of the abandon penalties until this is all sorted out.

Doge says, "Make it stop!"

To my fellow Siegers: don’t just go on the Ubisoft support page or forums to whine about how much their net code sucks and they need to “stop making online games”. If you want to see problems fixed, provide some context. Take screenshots and describe what happened before you got disconnected. Were you experiencing lag (rubber-banding, perhaps)? Did you have someone lagging really badly in your session? Did someone drop before you? Provide details so that Ubisoft can get to the underlying issues faster. Simply saying “it sucks” or “it’s broken” only keeps them from getting to the tickets and posts that will actually help out.

Rainbow Six Siege | Navy SEALs | Valkyrie & Blackbeard

Rainbow Six Siege Weapons: Buffs, Nerfs, and Effective Range Distinctions

It seems that weapon adjustments were at the top of everyone’s list, as many weapons have been nerfed and buffed, as appropriate. For starters, shotguns have been nerfed so there’s no more of this crazy shotty sniping crap – thank God! The critical multiplyer for headshots is now 1x instead of 1.5x, though effective range still seems higher than it should be. While operators like Valkyrie and Sledge are not nearly as menacing, they’re still pretty scary when they run around with shotguns. Don’t even get me started on the light armor operators and their boomsticks. My favorite cheap move is Pulse hiding behind plywood walls and hitting you when he sees you on his stupid little TV… Sigh.

Blackbeard (Navy SEAL) replacing weapon face shield.

Blackbeard’s main weapon, his full-auto CQB, has had it’s damage lowered. The Siege dev team said it was “abnormally high”. Now, the raw damage output remains the same as Capitao’s Parafal, though Blackbeard’s optimal range is about 7 feet lower. It seems that using an extended barrel on the Parafal will make the damage uniform even at 40 units (not sure if it’s yards or feet TBH) away or so, making the Parafal stronger. Raw damage for the MK17CQB ranges from 28 to 44; in contrast, the Parafal ranges from 29 to 45. The differences are very slight. I think it was fine where it was as Blackbeard has to manually reload, which can be awkward in a firefight.  It also seems the face shield gets destroyed easily now…

On the flip side, Caveira’s Luison has gotten a HUGE buff to raw damage at all ranges. Within 3 feet of her targets, she will continue to do 105 damage (plus/minus armor, weakpoint, and critical modifiers). At around 5 units, she does 96 damage versus 71 but it’s at mid range that the buffs will be most evident: raw damage almost doubling from 36 to 70! Her optimal range and long-range damage remain the same.

Don't mess with Caveira: she'll shoot you then slit your throat!

There have been other weapon and character re-balancing tweaks but the one a lot of my fellow Siegers are talking about is the SMG-11. The weapon has been affectionately called the “pocket sniper” and, until the recent changes, it was a secondary that could very much be used as a primary. With the removal of ACOG, it should be less “OP” and maybe we’ll see different loadouts. That said, ACOG scopes are not an auto-pick IMHO, because some weapons simply do not have the range or accuracy for long range battles. There’s a thing called damage falloff, BTW.

Rainbow Six Siege | Japanese Operators | Hibana & Echo

Japanese Operators Analysis: Hibana & Echo (S.A.T.)

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Japanese operators are here! The Japanese operators are part of an elite police unit called S.A.T. (Special Assault Team or Tokushu Kyushu Butai) and they’re pretty sweet. It’s fitting that they’re the Japanese equivalent of what we may expect from American S.W.A.T. units since there are similarities to our favorite FBI operators. Before I get into their specifics, I want to say that, overall, these are universally useful operators, whereas other picks are a bit more situational. It also seems that Ubisoft is continuing the trend of pushing faster gameplay with light armor still being heavily favored with some medium armor here and there. Heavy armor operators just aren’t getting the love because they move very, very slow – and they make TONS of noise!

ANYway…

Hibana and Echo round out the current roster nicely yet I am finding that the auto-picking and overall enthusiasm has already died down significantly, whereas you still see lots of Blackbeard, Valkyrie, Caveira, Capitao, Buck, and Frost picks. We’ll see if that changes after the season pass sanction is over and everyone gets access.

Most gamers I’ve talked to are partial to Hibana over Echo, which is about what you’d expect. Hibana is very much an in-your-face operator and Echo plays more passively like a Valkyrie or Pulse, which takes patience (something the younger players tend to lack). In fact, I see Hibana becoming much more popular, especially once the Japanese operators are opened up to everyone (not just season pass holders).

If you’re not up with how the Japanese operators work, here’s a quick rundown:

Rainbow Six Siege | Hibana (S.A.T.) Weapon Loadout

Hibana is an attacker who combines the speed and long-range prowess of Ash with the breaching versatility of Thermite. The name “Spark” (that’s what Hibana is Japanese for, apparently) is appropriate because this girl is electrifying. In less than a week of playing against or with her, I’ve seen Hibana single-handedly win matches. She is particularly punishing against overly-aggressive defenders who chase their prey rather than defending the objective. You’d think people would get the hint that chasing when you have a numbers advantage is unnecessarily risky but, nope, they fall for it every time..  Seriously, you’d think people would learn after all the epic fails!

Rainbow Six Siege | Echo (S.A.T.) Weapon Loadout

Echo is arguably not as sexy and it seems his weapons do not stack up to what Hibana has (could be all in my head TBH) but, if you can use his Yokai Drone to great effect, your team will love you. Echo is essentially the defender equivalent of Twitch with a focus on harassment. His drone is hard to spot without an IQ on your team so it serves as a nice surveillance tool and anti-personnel weapon. The stun attack may not be lethal but it’s effects are devastating; heck, the sound it makes alone is menacing, much like LMGs going at full blast. Oh, the Yokai Drone is invisible so long as it’s not in motion or on the ground so good luck finding it without getting shot while playing “chase the drone”.

In the next section, we’ll look at how Operation Red Crow changes have and will impact Rainbow Six Siege. Specifically, we’ll see how the Japanese operators and shorter ranked time are changing the game.

The New R6 Siege Competitive Meta, Strategies, Tips & Tricks

As expected, the frequent Echo plays have caused IQ and Thatcher to become a bit more popular though, in my humble opinion, they’ve always been super useful. I’m still surprised they’re not used more often but I’m okay with that since I get to play them! Perhaps if Thatcher could temporarily disable electronics within a radius he’d be more popular but that’s a discussion for another time. Echo is taking the slot usually occupied by Valkyrie or Pulse in that he’ll typically be the guy that is hidden away from the objective, trying to catch enemies off-guard from a distance. He is an opportunist but, if you get a good player, he’ll actually share valuable intel and support your roamers.

Rainbow Six: Siege IQ Mom Jeans

IQ is a must-play.. because whooty, yo. #PAWG

The typically passive role Echo fills can be dangerous because your team is essentially playing down a man for a majority of the game. That said, it can work really well if your teammates remember to play the objective. I’m a huge Echo fan because I believe that it’s always good to have a forward team and an “away team” (or at least one roamer but no more than two). I’m hoping his Yokai Drone will reinforce good drone support. It’s super effective to drone ahead of teammates pushing forward, whether you’re on offense or defense. The lamentable thing here is that the shorter round timers means you have to be quick about it or throw away winnable rounds by running out of time.

Rainbow Six Siege | Yokai Drone (Echo's Gadget)

Hibana is particularly interesting because now reinforced walls are even less trustworthy. It used to be that, if you took out Thermite, you were breathing easier. With Hibana in the mix in at least 2 out of every 3 matches, you have to be on guard constantly. The peek/kill holes she creates mean you have to watch more angles and choose your position very carefully.

Hibana’s ability to breach at long range could very well change the way players are reinforcing objectives. For a long time, we Siege veterans have been preaching that creating little steel cages to hide in is not very smart. Now it should be abundantly obvious that reinforcements should be spread out so as to not give enemies easy things to use against you.

Teams with real strong coordination can take advantage of the multiple breaching options to push objectives more aggressively than ever. Combine this with the fact that we’ve lost an entire minute in ranked rounds and we’re seeing more blitzing than ever. It leads to a lot of sloppy gameplay but it certainly makes things very intense. I gotta say: this is not your grandpa’s Rainbow Six.

So, how do you counter these new operators?

When playing against Echo, I find that it’s important to protect IQ, if you have her on your team. Roll with a Thatcher and perhaps someone with a shield to protect her while she scans for traps. To avoid flanks, claymores are great. Both Thatcher and Thermite are good options for such loadouts. You could roll in with your whole team but check your fire and make sure everyone holds potential enemy routes. Allow for enough of a buffer space between all teammates so that you can react fast enough to an ambush. It’s embarrassing if one Jager, Valkyrie, or whomever takes out two teammates or more, all because you’re huddled up too closely together or lining up to get shot.

Hibana is a tricky one to counter, particularly in Bomb matches. One thing to do is have Black Eyes and/or a Yokai Drone on the perimeter so your roamers can catch her before she does any damage. Similarly, you want to have someone hold the hatch areas, if possible. If you do it right, you can catch two or three enemies before they get to the objective.

Hibana (Spark) | Kairos Launcher in action! | Rainbow Six Siege

Mute is more important than ever but I notice players are still hesitant to pick him or they’ll ask others to choose him. Even though he could get a Nitro Cell and has one of the most useful devices in the game, folks just can’t get over how “terribad” his weapon is. I find both his shotgun and SMG effective. He’s no weaker than Frost, at least. Go for headshots, peek around corners, and strafe to get the job done. This is Siege 101, folks.

If you have a Mute, your strategy changes a bit. You’ll want to pick off Thatcher if at all possible. Twitch is another threat that is worth addressing early but, once she loses her two drones, she’s less of a pain in the butt. I like to use Kapkan traps around the perimeter. Secure the most likely routes and the areas where you are weakest.

What I like to do is visualize what I would do if I were on the other side of the playing field. Think about which breaches would disrupt your current defense the most. Where will you go if your safe spots are exposed? These are things you need to plan for so that you’re not shooting teammates and tripping over each other when two or three enemies breach at once.

I find that Hibana has the biggest impact in Hostage mode. Typically, it’s fairly easy to sit on top of the hostage, forcing enemies to take tough shots and risk killing the hostage. Explosives are a no-no in Hostage, though some people will try to get fancy anyway. This leaves Hibana in a unique scenario where she could help her teammates clean up house before extracting the hostage. Suddenly, those impossible shot angles become far more manageable.

When it comes to choosing between deployable shields or barbed wire, I usually prefer the latter. Shields don’t provide enough cover and are easily dealt with. Barbed wire provides audible clues that enemies are nearby. Without a sledge or some explosives, they’ll have to walk through it slowly, smash it, or find another way around. All of these scenarios allow you to control the flow of the match and slow down aggressive pushes.

For the best results, place barbed wire in choke points and bottlenecks. Place them close but do not overlap, as you want to maximize the surface area covered. You may want to opt to NOT barricade a door so that you don’t give a Fuze an easy opportunity to clear the room. This is particularly important in Secure Area. Barbed wire on stairs is another classic move that still works very well, as it’s a major pain to deal with.

You can use barbed wire on the perimeter so you can hear enemies coming and maybe get some penetration kills. You could also consider using barbed wire around the area you are guarding so that you can’t get easily rushed. Cover your flanks so you don’t get overwhelmed, especially if you’re the last survivor!

The beauty of Rainbow Six: Siege is that it’s a shooter where you have to constantly think and be aware of what’s going on. This makes every experience unique. As the current meta seems to favor rushing, I’m hoping there will be new gameplay modes and timer adjustments to allow for more tactical play. Regardless, there’s tons of depth here and something for everyone. The key is placing players in the roles they’re best suited for.

Rainbow Six Siege: Operation Red Crow | Skyscraper Map (Japan)

I’d also like to note that I dig the direction of map design in Siege. Favelas and Skyscraper are amongst my favorite maps. It seems I’m in the minority, as players do not like how maze-like the maps are or how vulnerable they are on defense. It’s the verticality and constant sense of impending doom that makes me a fan of both maps.  Skyscraper is particularly sexy because it seems more balanced..  And it’s just beautiful.

If you take a close look at Yacht, another map that seems to be disliked, it’s essentially a more vertical, spacious Presidential Plane map. I prefer it over Plane, simply because it gives you more options and doesn’t force CQC/CQB down your throat. All of the new maps really make you carefully consider your routes and check for possible flanks from multiple directions at all times.

I’m okay with new operators ceasing after a year or, heck, before Year Two is over.. So long as new maps keep coming. I also think we really need some new gameplay modes to keep things fresh. Overwatch has finally nailed this with the Arcade mode and Weekly Brawl. It’d be nice to have a casual mode in R6 Siege that has new rule sets every week, at the very least.

One thing I keep going back to is how consistently we see defenders jumping outside and spawn killing. There’s more rushing now than there ever was and I believe it is counter to what the intended experience is supposed to be. Ideally, new gameplay modes, rules, and rewards will come around to reinforce good behavior and recognize players doing it right. For everyone else, there’s always Terrorist Hunt, Casual, or a little game called Call Of Doodie. If I want shenanigans and high-speed action, I’ll play Titanfall 2 (great game, BTW), thank you very much.

Rainbow Six Siege | Thanksgiving Challenge | Drumstick & Football Helmet Charms

Thanksgiving Charms, Events & The Future Of Rainbow Six Siege

Happy Thanksgiving, operator! Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to get 20 wins as FBI Swat (Ash, Thermite, Castle, Pulse) and 10 wins as Navy SEALs (Valkyrie and Blackbeard). Do so and you will get a smiley-face turkey drumstick and/or football helmet charm for all your weapons. HURRY – this event ends soon!

I hope to see more events like this, not just during holidays. Gears Of War, Call Of Duty, and Battlefield have been masterful at driving activity by keeping events frequent and incentivizing loyalty.

Sooooo, during the writing of this article, Ubisoft has already released an incremental Season 4 patch to address some of game health issues and major problems in ranked. It’s been only a few days since Red Crow dropped so this is very encouraging indeed. My favorite decision was the removal of vote kick from ranked play. Vote kick did not add any value and was purely used to rage/troll. It was also redundant since team killers are punished automatically now, anyway.

It’s last call for the Rainbow Six Siege Year One Season Pass! Ubisoft is making a real push for the year one pass but is it worth it?  Let us know in the comments. Apparently, after December 1st, you won’t be able to get the really cool uniforms for the S.A.T. operators.

Before we conclude our beefy Rainbow Six Siege coverage, let’s return to the elephant in the room: abandon sanction or penalty or whatever they’re calling it as you read this. What’s really frustrating about the escalating penalties is that it’s punishing the wrong people and the real offenders don’t care enough because they’ll just go troll in another game. The last thing you want to do in an online game is punish your most dedicated players and reward the trolls.. But that’s what’s happening.

I go back to our Siege Season 4 wishlist and I really think we need something to positively reinforce good behavior and teamwork, while cutting out the trolls and griefers. The problem with the latter is that you might get lots of false positives. The FairFight system attempts to flag suspicious players but what’s to stop malicious use of reporting features? Instead, encouraging positive feedback may help players focus on the fundamentals and good habits over time, rather than isolated infractions or poor performances.

With Ubisoft looking to possibly wind down on new operators sooner rather than later, I really hope we will get an announcement soon about their Year Two road map and what to expect beyond. I believe there are still players on the fence about the game. They think it’ll eventually get buried by a slew of new releases, Ghost Recon Wildlands inclusive, or just run out of steam. Existing players are even avoiding the season pass because they don’t see the long-term value.

Truth be told, while this is my #1 game right now, I have yet to get the Year One Season Pass. It’s a tempting proposition and a great way to tip the devs for a job well done… But there are so many games coming out and, even if you ignore them, I kind of want to get all those cool uniforms and skins so I don’t look like such a square while I’m trying to shoot stuff.

Some will say that the prices of in-game purchases are all rather extreme. I agree yet I understand why the prices are inflated. The intention is for players to have to pick and choose what they get. This forms more of an attachment to select operators and a desire to master them.

While most purchases are available with in-game currency, the prices in virtual and real currency are up there. They likely hope it will get players to buy more boosters and/or play more but I think there is a happy medium they have yet to find. Perhaps placing game boosters on sale more often? That’d be a good start. And why aren’t there more bundles for consoles?

I’d love to see a special offer for long-time players. A bundle that gives you the season pass, some R6 creds, and other goodies at a great price. It’d be a nice way to thank us loyal people. Mobile games already do this and, for a game that’s developed into it’s own platform, I hope Ubisoft smartens up. They can make more money if more folks buy into their premium stuff.. And we all get an easy opportunity to support a game we love. Everyone wins!

BTW, if you’re above the age of 18, have a brain, and like [good] team games you should really play Rainbow Six Siege. It’s the shooter for us grown folk. Also, it’s going on sale for Black Friday weekend. Word on the street is that it will be $10 or less for Xbox One and PS4, if you buy the physical version. DO IT! Kggthx.

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Comments

  1. Ubisoft has confirmed that Siege has had an amazing year and is keeping up with the big dogs, carving out it’s own space in the eSports scene and online gaming as a whole. They will be announcing plans for Year Two before the end of the year. STAY TUNED!!

    http://www.pcgamesn.com/rainbow-six-siege/rainbow-six-siege-year-two

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