I’ve just come back from a week in Montreal, where I got to take Operation Velvet Shell for an early spin (prior to its release this week), interview a couple of key devs, and watch the Six Invitational world finals. As a massive fan or Rainbow Six Siege, there was a hell of a lot of content and insights on offer, so keep an eye on PC PowerPlay for more posts after this one, too.
This first post is going to focus on the soon-to-be-released Operation Velvet Shell DLC. As is (and will continue to be) the trend, season pass holders get a week of early access to two new operators, but everyone gets access to the map for free, and you can still purchase the new operators with in-game renown (currency). It’s a fantastic system that sets Rainbow Six Siege apart from too many other shooters that continually subdivide the player base with every new DLC drop.
The new map is called Coastline and, from what I played, it’s a great addition to Siege’s map rotation. It’s a medium-sized two-storey structure with a couple of different staircases, a vibrant neon aesthetic inside, a high-risk/high-reward lower-floor centre section, with long lines of sight in the centre but shorter on the sides. There’s also plenty of destructibility, courtesy of a year of iteration that has allowed Ubisoft Montreal to get better performance out of the engine.
Coastline features some sneaky spawn-peeking spots, particularly on the second floor, as well as some obvious drop-out windows/doors for aggressive roamers looking to upset a patient incursion. Speaking of roamers, Ubisoft Montreal is keenly aware that the pre-Season 5 meta has a heavy emphasis on roaming defenders, which is why the two new operators seek to shift the meta away from this. Full respect to Ubisoft Montreal for actively seeking to upset existing meta trends with every new DLC drop.
The new defending operator is Mira. She’s a three-armour (one-speed) defender, which means she’s best played guarding the objective. Her unique gadget also reinforces this idea. Mira can deploy two Black Mirror gadgets on any reinforced or destructible wall. Once deployed, the gadgets act as a one-way mirror, where players can see out from the side it was deployed on, but can’t see in from the opposite side. It’s a fantastic intel-gathering tool (it can’t be shot through; not even by Glaz… at this stage) that opens up fantastic defensive opportunities.
If deployed on a reinforced wall, Mira (or other defenders) can feed intel back to her team without exposing herself to fire from attackers. She can also use it on an unreinforced wall and take shots at enemies through the wall (wall-bang). This will expose her to return fire or even pre-fire, though, which is why it’s a viable tactic to deploy a Black Mirror on a reinforced wall, but leave the breakable wall next to it unreinforced so you can safely collect intel, and lean across to take shots at attackers with much less exposure.
There’s a gas canister below the Black Mirrors that can be shot or melee attacked to bring the two-way mirror down, which converts it into a murder hole. Be aware that this is the same as any murder hole, in that players on both sides can see and shoot through it. This also means that aggressive attackers can take a reinforced position, then use the Black Mirrors for their own intel-gathering and wall-banging.
Mira has a choice between an extremely high fire-rate SMG (albeit with a small mag) or shotgun in the primary slots, and a pistol or snub shotgun in the secondary slots. Yes, this means she can carry two shotties. Assuming your defence is running a Rook, she’s even tougher with the additional armour. On top of this, with Black Mirrors placed at the regular height (you can also place them prone) and popped early in the round, Tachanka can have some interesting and partially protected lines of sight against incoming attackers.
Jackal is the new attacker, and he’s been purpose-built to hunt roamers. His Eyenox visor has unlimited battery and can spot the footprints of enemy players. Footprints remain for 90 seconds, or until the defender is killed, and the colour of the footprints indicates their age in a scale that ranges from cool-blue old to red-hot nearby.
If you focus on a set of footprints, you can press ‘F’ to analyse them, and it will identify the operator and place a red arrow above their current location. This location marker updates every 10 seconds for the next 30 seconds, and I’m pretty sure its visible for the entire attacking team, too. The only way defenders can avoid making footprints is if they’re prone, or if they’re playing as Caveira and using her Silent Step ability (her normal-walking/running footprints show up, though).
While the two-armour/two-speed Jackal is up to the task of killing defenders himself (he has an AR or big-mag SMG primary, and pistol or snub shotgun secondary options), he’ll likely be best supported by a three-speed operator for quickly dispatching roamers. Like Mira, he’s also a fantastic resource when it comes to intel gathering, feeding information back to his teammates. Even the lack of footprints in a room or entire level of a breached structure is useful, time-saving info for an attacking team (minus Caveira’s Silent Step consideration, of course).
Jackal can have his visor down at all times, and he can track enemy footprints three times. The trick with having Jackal’s visor perpetually down is it can create a sense of tunnel vision when looking down to track footprints. It’s also disrupted by Mute’s Signal Disruptors, and shooting near (or on) a Jackal player will scramble the visor, too, so Ubisoft Montreal has taken steps to balance a potentially overpowered operator out of the gate.
I only got to try the two new operators on the Coastline map, but it’s not hard to imagine how much potential they have for the existing map pool. When Rainbow Six Siege launched, there were a handful of must-select attacking operators and only one or two defenders. Fast-forward to today and there are more sound attacking/defensive choices than player slots, especially after improvements to existing operators, which is exactly where Siege needs to be. I look forward to seeing what Mira and Jackal do to impact the roaming-heavy meta when they exit early access next week.