We’ve come to the end of the first year of DLC for Rainbow Six Siege thanks to the recent release of the Operation Red Crow expansion. Earlier this month, I made some speculative predictions for the DLC based on leaks , and while most of that turned out to be not entirely accurate, I’ve sunk some time into Operation Red Crow and discovered that, once again, Ubisoft Montreal has no qualms unashamedly mixing up Siege’s meta.
It’s great, particularly in light of comparing the current awesome state of Siege to its somewhat shaky launch. Since launch, Ubisoft Montreal has been transparent with the Siege community about updates which, coupled with a willingness to throw curve-ball operators in with each round of DLC, now enjoys a community that’s larger than what it was at launch.
Operation Red Crow follows the usual trend of introducing one new map and two new operators. The new Skyscraper map is another great addition to the rotation. It’s a well-designed multi-level space with a great mix of cramped rooms, tight corners and some longer lines of sight in the lobby area (and outside, if you dare to peek as a defender). Skyscraper continues to stress the importance of the information war that Ubisoft Montreal pushes as, in my opinion, the most important component of Siege’s gameplay.
As an attacker, it’s easy to spot the objective in the preparation phase, then make a beeline for that level and focus your team’s efforts there. The problem with that tactic is the three connected levels makes it easy for roaming defenders to get behind the attacking team. From my experiences with Skyscraper, Valkyrie continues to be an effective defender for spotting and flanking foes, while Caveira’s ability to move stealthily and interrogate enemies is great for shifting quickly and silently between spaces, clearing rooms.
Regardless of the map, the new operators present two strong choices, which makes the process of locking down five per side even more arduous (in a good way). New attacker Hibana has the choice of SuperNova shotgun or Type-89 primaries, P229 pistol or Bearing 9 SMG secondaries, and M17 Claymore or Stun Grenade as a gadget. Her movement speed is high and her armour is low.
Her unique ability is the X-Kairos launcher. It fires a group of six exothermic canisters that have to be manually detonated. This gadget can break through any destructible surface and, most importantly, this includes the reinforced walls that used to be the sole destructive domain of Thermite. Mind you, that doesn’t mean Hibana is a substitute for Thermite. While Thermite can obliterate an entire section of reinforced wall for easy entry, Hibana is limited to creating generous-sized murder holes that you can’t jump through. You might be able to make them at ankle height and crawl through, but I haven’t tested that (plus the prospect of crawling into a likely defended room is ill-advised).
That’s if you leave all six charges for detonation. If you’re sneakier, you can shoot any number of them to create smaller murder holes. Regardless of the size of the murder hole, Hibana works really well in combination with Blackbeard: Hibana makes the murder hole, and Blackbeard steps in after the explosion with his protective Rifle-Shield to clear out defenders in the room of interest. (Let’s face it, defenders tend to always reinforce rooms of interest, and not decoy rooms.) This means that defenders need to rethink the safety of reinforced walls, while Mute’s Signal Disruptors and even Bandit’s Shock Wire become viable passive (or active, if you don’t mind the micro) counters.
New defender Echo, on the other hand, is an even bigger game-changer for both sides. Echo has a choice of SuperNova shotgun or MP5SD SMG primaries, P229 handgun or Bearing 9 SMG secondaries, and Barbed Wire or Deployable shield in the gadget category. He’s the opposite of Hibana in terms of his armour and movement speed: heavy armour and slow movement speed. His unique gadget is where things get interesting. Echo’s single Yokai Drone is powerful or frustrating, depending on whether you’re controlling it or on the receiving end.
The drone works a lot like the average attacker’s drone in terms of movement along the ground, except its jump function flips it up onto the roof, where it becomes immobile and invisible in a Predator kind of way. When it’s stuck on the roof, the drone can send out ultrasonic bursts that both disorient and stop attackers from whatever action they were just doing. This latter point means Echo’s drone can be used to stop an enemy planting a defuser in the dying seconds of a round, or to stop Thermite from placing or activating his Exo-Thermic Charge.
In my experience, I used Echo’s drone more to spot and frustrate enemies, feeding intel back to my team. As soon as you’re hit by an ultrasonic burst, your screen starts to shake and everything looks out of control for a few seconds. When I got hit, I immediately retreated to cover. When I hit attackers with it, they tended to back off, too. Depending on where Echo is in relation to his drone, you can quickly pop out and score easy kills on disoriented foes (yes, it can disorient multiple targets if they’re close enough together), or you can communicate with your team to do that for you.
Echo is basically an essential choice for the defending team, and if he’s in the hands of a capable player, it means that IQ, once more, becomes the best choice for countering a powerful information-capturing defender. She can easily spot Echo’s drone with her Electronics Detector and, in the same way as Pulse, she can spot Echo whenever he’s actively using his drone.
Ubisoft Montreal has closed out the first year of Rainbow Six Siege DLC with another stellar content drop. This is particularly exciting because Ubisoft recently announced a second year (so, a second a season pass) of DLC support for Siege, which is preferable to a sequel, as far as I’m concerned. If you’ve strayed away from Siege since the Operation Skull Rain DLC (as I have), now is a great time to jump back in, and I have the utmost confidence that the game is going to continue to improve from Operation Red Crow onwards.
Further Rainbow Six Siege reading:
20 key tips for succeeding at Rainbow Six Siege
10 advanced tips for Rainbow Six Siege
8 ways Dust Line DLC improves Rainbow Six Siege
Rainbow Six Siege: Present state update and Operation Skull Rain DLC predictions
Siege’s latest update boldly mixes up the meta