Rainbow Six Siege: Operation Grim Sky continues to smash the meta

Operation Grim Sky introduces a fascinating new active intel-gathering defender and a likely OP-at-launch attacker.

Rainbow Six Siege: Operation Grim Sky continues to smash the meta

Earlier this year, at the Six Invitational, Ubisoft Montreal bucked the trend of releasing one attacker and one defender in Rainbow Six Siege’s Operation Chimera. Lion and Finka were both attacking operators, they were the first to introduce global abilities and they were both considered to be OP (particularly Lion), especially when played together.

Subsequent balancing changes have made them fairer, while the Operation Para Bellum release of two defenders—Maestro and Alibi—have evened out the numbers. Operation Grim Sky, the next DLC season for Rainbow Six Siege, lands in September and returns to the traditional approach of releasing one new attacker and one new defender. I had a chance to go hands-on with the two new operators and the completely reworked Hereford Base map at the Paris Major.

Let’s start with Hereford. Between previews, alphas, betas and the final game, I’ve played the original Hereford Base map more than any other map in Rainbow Six. While parts of it feel familiar on the 2.0 version, a lot of it feels unfamiliar thanks to the ground-up redesign. Initially, I was getting lost quite a bit, and even after an hour of switching between attack and defence, I was still learning the layout.

This is less of a gripe in terms of the complexities of the redesign and more a compliment of how different it feels. Unlike the previous map buffs that make minor changes with major implications, Hereford Base has major changes with even bigger implications, particularly for the competitive viability of the map. Most notably, the introduction of a second staircase and more rooms.

The intention is for four competitively viable bomb sites and, more specifically, a shift away from basement being the favourite defence spot. While I’m no pro player, I did appreciate the multiple entry options to the bomb site as an attacker and, subsequently, the need for tight communication and a spread-out defence to protect against multi-front attacks.

I look forward to playing a whole lot more of Hereford Base and getting to know it as well as the original. As part of my time on Hereford, I also had a chance to take the new operators for a spin across multiple rounds. Clash is a fantastic addition to the roster of defending operators. She’s a one-speed, three-armour operator who’s the first defender to carry a shield.

That shield is fully transparent, meaning it’s easy to track attackers through it, both as Clash and as defenders behind her. The shield is basically a better version of Montagne’s, with a forward-facing taser that deals little damage but slows close-range attackers. This taser is incredibly handy given the fact that Clash has no other offensive capabilities while her shield is up.

That means no pistol and no melee, just like Monty when he’s fully deployed. Unlike Montagne, Clash is vulnerable to melee attacks on her shield, which stun her. This means Clash is best used in conjunction with at least one other defender to deter attackers from pushing her and, ideally, to score kills.

Clash is an intel gatherer, and an active one at that. She’s great at making attackers think twice about pushing through a particular wall, window or doorway, she excels at holding staircases (again, ideally, with backup) and she’s designed more for selfless players who want to support their team and provide constant VOIP intel rather than rack up kills.

Her pistol and SMG are okay, but I’d argue you really shouldn’t have those out much if you want to play Clash effectively, especially because it takes time to deploy and put away the shield. I preferred the pistol over the SMG, which I wasn’t expecting, but that’s mainly because the SMG is fixed in a two-round burst-fire mode. Even as a tap-firer, I found this off-putting enough to main the pistol.

On the attacking team, Maverick has massive meta implications, more so than Clash. Maverick’s gadget is a blowtorch that can breach reinforced walls and hatches. Unlike the other harder breachers (Thermite and Hibana), Maverick is meant less for creating entry pathways and more for creating murder holes and lines of sight that are terrifying for defenders, particularly on reinforceable external walls.

On the topic of Hibana, she’ll no longer be able to use a single X-KAIROS pellet to destroy a hatch. Moving forward, a single (or even multiple pellets) will create Maverick-like murder holes in a hatch, increasing the need for Hibana players to expend precious utility, but also offering versatility for creating vertical murder holes.

In terms of another tangent with competitive implications, Ubisoft is also pushing for stricter anti-cheat measures in Ranked play. At some point during the Grim Sky season, all Ranked players will be given a month’s notice that they have to activate two-factor authentication for their accounts. The hope is that this will result in fewer smurf accounts, protect accounts from theft and will deter cheaters from playing because they run the risk of losing their accounts.

Back to Grim Sky and Maverick, his biggest challenge is that he has to get right up to a wall to interact with it. But given he’s a three-speed operator, this isn’t overly challenging. His blowtorch can also be used to make holes in soft cover but making sneaky holes in reinforced walls is a nightmare for defenders. Defenders are used to not having to worry about a reinforced wall behind them, knowing that they’ll have a loud notification if it’s about to be breached.

Maverick changes that. In fact, he changes it to the point that I imagine Ubisoft Montreal will have to increase the noise his blowtorch makes when burning through reinforced walls and, possibly, slow him to a two-speed or even one-speed operator. His synergy options with his fellow attackers are far-reaching. Basically, any attacker can take advantage of his discrete murder holes.

Combo Maverick with Blackbeard, though, and the prospect of anchoring a site is more terrifying now than it’s ever been, as Blackbeard can peek with impunity, so long as he hasn’t lost both rifle shields. On top of this, because Maverick’s blowtorch isn’t affected by things like Mute’s jammers or Bandit’s batteries, Maverick can make holes at the bottom of a wall to take out such countermeasures. Make a big enough hole, and grenades can be used to clear defences (or defenders), or send in a Twitch drone to take out pesky jammers, batteries and/or Jäger’s Magpies.

His synergy potential is so strong I fully expect to see him as a popular ban choice once he enters the meta and the competitive scene. There is currently no hard counter to Maverick (most notably his gadget), which means he’ll likely also be a coveted operator to remove from the board early on in a match.

Despite Maverick’s power, I’m actually less outraged at his apparent OPness than I was when Lion was first announced and playable. Ubisoft Montreal only ever balances based on telemetry data, so Maverick will, at the very least, likely have an early run of dominance before he’s tapped with the balancing hammer.

Still, with Operation Grim Sky, Ubisoft Montreal continues to show it’s adding viable operators with each DLC drop: operators that drastically disrupt the reigning metas. Now that the roster of operators is at 42 (21 per side) and assuming that Ubisoft continues this trend, it’s not hard to see a time not long from now when Siege becomes the Netflix of games, with players spoiled for choice of so many quality options that picking a single favourite operator or essential team line-up becomes incrementally trickier.

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