I’ve done this speculative Siege dance before. First, for the Black Ice operators that turned out to be attacker/defender mainstays Frost and Buck . Next up was discussion of how the two new Dust Line operators would impact the meta (Blackbeard and Valkyrie). Then I speculated about the Operation Skull Rain operatives before delving into the meta implications of their release (Caveira and Capitão), both of whom turned out to be tempting additions to any attacking or defending roster.
In the lead-up to the release of Rainbow Six Siege’s Season 4 update, which was recently teased on the game’s official Twitter account, the long-running rumours about Japanese operators appear to be true. Aside from the tweet, Twitter user Jon Kay released a Siege gameplay video set on what appears to be a very destructible Season 4 map. Even though Kay wasn’t playing as a new attacker (he was playing as Sledge), there were glimpses of one of the new operators, who was wielding a shotgun with what appeared to be an SMG secondary in a thigh holster.
Today, shots of the new operators have leaked online. If you want to avoid potential spoilers, don’t click on this particular hyperlink (and while I’m at it, you might not want to read the rest of my speculation). The image shows two new operators, Echo and Hibana. Initially, I was convinced that Echo was an attacker, because that appears to be him that’s seen in the afore-linked video footage, but now I’m not so sure. With only a name and an image to go on, unlike previous leaks, it makes speculation a little bit more, well, speculative.
If this Reddit thread is to be believed , Hibana is indeed an attacker and Echo is the defender, though I couldn’t find confirmation of this claim. So, on with the speculation.
Hibana appears to be holding a drone-like device. If it is indeed a drone, that means he’d slot better into the attacker categories, with a custom drone (like Twitch) that flies instead of rolls. But then, even if Hibana’s unique gadget turns out to be a drone, it might just be Ubisoft Montreal messing with the meta once again and arming a defender with a flying surveillance drone. A defender drone would make Hibana a next-level Valkyrie, able to provide intel to teammates from unexpected vantage points.
Personally, I like the idea that it’s not a drone and that Hibana’s gadget is, instead, a device that’s manually deployed (much like Jäger’s Magpie active-defence gadgets) and makes noises. This idea could be supported by Hibana’s operator icon, which looks like it has waves (could be sound waves) coming out of the bottom of it. Siege has always been a game of information, where intel on who or what is around the next corner is arguably more important than steady aim and fast reflexes. Sound plays a big role in passive intelligence gathering. The sound of footsteps, explosions, or gunfire dictates where you might aim or even speculatively fire through walls trying to hit an enemy who’s heard but not seen.
If Echo has a gadget that can create believable sound effects, particularly if those decoy sounds can be manually activated, this would result in changes for the meta, as players would be forced to question whether what they’re hearing is indeed an enemy threat or an aural ruse. With this kind of gadget, Echo could still be an effective attacker or defender, but it seems a better fit for a defending player, and would be a godsend gadget for players that love to roam. After all, it’s much easier to score a kill in Siege if you have that extra half second of breathing space to line up a headshot because your opponent is looking away from you.
As for Hibana, well, she’s a little trickier. Her operator icon looks like a stylised five-round revolver, but she has a funky weapon slung over her shoulder. According to user davis346 in this same Reddit thread (and my online research), the word “hibana” means “spark” in Japanese, which seems to tease that this new operator likes fire. When you take a closer look at the weapon slung over her shoulder, it appears to have two gas cylinders slotted into the rear right of it, which could mean Hibana is carrying some sort of flamethrower.
Bear in mind that Ubisoft Montreal has messed around with fire already in Siege by way of Capitão’s Asphyxiating Bolts in his Tactical Crossbow unique gadget. These bolts burn the air (but not players) and force them to relocate. If Ubisoft Montreal has pushed this idea to its next logical level and is poised to introduce a flamethrower, the implications are huge. There are a lot of destructible walls in every Siege map, as well as an abundance of combustible items, that could easily take flame damage from such a gadget.
But by far the best practical application for a flamethrower in Siege would be the clearing out of rooms filled with attackers or defenders (depending on which side Hibana is supporting, of course). The threat of literal friendly fire means it has to be used carefully, but it’d be a great way to burn out a prone defender who doesn’t want to show their head. If you need an idea of how effective flamethrowers can be, look no further than the flamethrower in Battlefield 1… or this clip from Saving Private Ryan .
Given how destructible this new map appears to be in the leaked footage, and assuming that Hibana does have a flamethrower, it’ll be interesting to see how Siege’s fire mechanics work. For instance, whether flame will stay contained to a particular area, wall, ceiling or floor, or whether it will continue to spread, which means it'll definitely require some thought before use.
Alternatively, user HereforHalo in that same Reddit thread claims Echo is indeed carrying a drone with flash capabilities, while Hibana has a device that can burn small murder holes in reinforced walls, which also has big implications for the meta if attackers aren’t as reliant on Thermite to destroy these walls and can turn a defensible position into a bad place to be. Either way, we’ll know soon enough. If you have thoughts on how you think these operators might play, speculate away in the comments section below.