This weekend has seen the biggest event of the Rainbow Six: Siege calendar - the Six Invitational - descend on Montreal once more to pit the best teams against one another. It's an annual event that has gotten bigger and bigger with each year, and Ubisoft also uses this as a central focal point to talk about the year ahead. We saw Year 2 content and Operation Velvet Shell when we were in attendance in 2017, Year 3 and Operation Chimera last year, and this year we got a taste of what awaits in Year 4.
Operation Burnt Horizon is kicking things off with the Year 4 Season 1 content, bringing Operators Mozzie (defender) and Gridlock (attacker) into the mix alongside a new map called Outback. We won't dwell too much on the content dropping with this first Australian Operation since we have a dedicated preview based on our hands-on time, and Artwork Presentation Director Alexander Karpazis gave an interview on the new content, as you can see below. What we will say though is that it's a unique way to kick off the year, even if it's a little less extreme than Operation Chimera and the special Outbreak event that started Year 3.
Let's talk about Year 4 as a whole instead. During a briefing at the studio ahead of the esports action kicking off at Place Bell Ubisoft told us that this is "a year of change", but considering last year included elements like major map reworks (Hereford being the highlight) and the aforementioned Outbreak event, we'd say that every year is one of change for Siege. Ubisoft isn't content with status quo, hence why we always get new Operators and maps to keep things fresh, but the changes here are still noteworthy.
For instance Ubisoft is now dedicating teams (or "cells" as they call them) to specific areas of the game that need love and attention, including maps, Operators, playlists, and balancing. These parts of the development team will be solely dedicated to these areas, and this is part of their ongoing commitment to investing in gameplay and mechanics.
To talk about balancing specifically, Lion is in the firing line for these changes, which should come as no surprise considering he was overpowered enough to be banned from the Pro League esports competition altogether. This had to do with his ability to scan the entire map and spot moving enemies, which would appear as silhouettes to him and his teammates, but now these enemies will only appear as tags (like when using a camera for example). Ubisoft has also reduced how long the drone is active, which should help nerf one of the most problematic Operators in the game.
Glaz is getting targeted for changes too. As of right now his thermal scope senses enemies as yellow silhouettes, but with the planned changes this will only be active if you're stationary. Ubisoft explained that this is designed to give players a choice - do you move and push, or do you stay where you are for an easier shot?
Mute is another Operator getting a tweak as well, albeit less extreme than Lion and Glaz. Up until now players knew you could prevent something like a Dokkaebi ring by being near Mute's signal disruptor, but now Ubisoft has made this clearer by showing a little blue symbol on your UI when you're in the disruptor's area of effect, so you can easily plan ahead.