If you’d told me four years ago that Ubisoft’s new take on Rainbow Six would still be around, I’d have scoffed at your comment. Scoffed to the max even. But almost half a decade later, and here we are with a grand experiment into hyper-competitive action having proven itself over and over again. Rainbow Six Siege ain’t yo daddy’s time-honoured slice of Tom Clancy, but it still retains that crunchy core of what made the original games so memorable.
That idea of knowing the lay of the land, using every piece of gear in your inventory to scrape in an advantage and having the itchiest of trigger fingers ready to redecorate a wall with a Jackson Pollock lead painting are all good stuff to retain in the grand scheme of things. Over the years, Rainbow Six Siege has built on its legacy, throwing in new maps, operators and changes to the meta-game that are both overt and covert in execution.
Operation Shifting Tides comes at a time when the dedicated community demands more of Ubisoft, hungry for new operators who can plug in the gaps that certain team compositions carry with them into battle. Stepping out of its comfort zone of combating terrorism and venturing into the murkier moral territory of private military corporations.
The real story here is in the addition of two new Operators: Indian sharpshooter Kali and Kenyan defender Wamai. Kali’s role is that of a disruptive sniper, able to increase the notches on her kill-count with a bolt-action CSRX-300 sniper rifle that throws a ludicrous amount of damage behind each shot fired. Kali’s arsenal is perfect for the eagle-eyed marksman, able to shred walls with a single shot, fling lead through multiple bodies and drop the opposition into a near-death state with a single shot.
The catch here, is that each shot fired truly does count due to the nature of the bolt-action weapon. There may be a satisfying reload animation, but that crucial time between each chambered round in a five-shot magazine coupled with the 5X and 12X scope means that Kali is better suited to players with a high level of precision.
When backed into a corner, Kali still has an ace up her sleeve in the form of Explosive Lances, a gadget destroying feature from her secondary undersling launcher that ustilises destructive spin to completely demolish any tech that it gets into range of, whether there be a wall on the other side or not. Wamai on the other hand, is Aquaman with an SMG. The alternative to Jager according to invested players on the subreddits for Rainbow Six, Wamai is able to reorganise the battlefield with the use of magnetism. Scared that you’ll walk into a frag grenade and get a killing blow delivered straight to your face?
Then Wamai’s ability to distort an arena and eliminate the danger of throwable lethal ordinance makes him a godsend as he messes up cooking timers for grenades and using an attacker’s offense against them to turn the tide of battle and ooooooooh I get the new operation’s name now. The thing is, Wamai’s abilities essentially make him a bit of a gamble, as his use in a fight with the Mag-NET Node will either pay off big time or lead to a crushing defeat if deployed incorrectly.
What Wamai does have as a handy backup, is an inventory with automatic replenishment features and an AUG A2 assault rifle that has some decent balance across all stats. If Kali is death from a long distance, then Wamai is an operator whose role is to hamper an aggressive enemy push and buy your team a precious handful of seconds to turn the tables on aggressive behaviour.
Operation Shifting Tides rounds out its end of year offerings with a new take on the Theme Park map, addressing several fan complaints about the original to create something that caters more to community demand. It’s hard to say how it’ll play in the big picture, but with the chokepoints of Rail Platform and Arcade Entrance removed, a better visual design and subtle tweaks to the location, the consensus so far is that of a more aggressive and open area within which to ply a deadly PMC trade.
There’s also been the recent deployment of local servers to our side, which has had a mixed result so far. While it’s nice to have them, I’m finding myself many a night spending an inordinate amount of time waiting for the servers to fill up with players to join, and to be honest I’m preferring to VPN my way back into the international scene rather than spend a night exploring a ghost town of a lobby. Are local servers nice? Absolutely, when they’re actually populated that is.
The key takeaway to all of this is that Operation Shifting Tides represents Ubisoft’s overall vision for Rainbow Six Siege: Polished, constantly evolving and as live servicey a game as can be. Beyond that, it’s a stone cold stunner of showdowns which will leave your armpits so moist that Nestle will try to steal the biological aquifer you’ve grown between rounds, coating your controller in a layer of tense sweat and desperation when you’re the last man standing.
Rainbow Six Siege is as good as it’ll ever be thanks to Operation Shifting Tides introducing some much-requested new content, with the complete package being a superb showcase of action, strategy and half a decade’s worth of polish.
Last Updated: December 19, 2019