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).
…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.
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.
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.