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Rainbow Six Siege – Operation: Steel Wave Preview

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Hands-on by Paul Davies

As the second season of Year 5 rapidly approaches for Rainbow Six Siege, Ubisoft lifts the lid on what to expect from ‘Steel Wave’. One major highlight, as far as we’re concerned, is the introduction of South African defender Melusi. She does, however, meet her match in new attacker Ace from Norway. There’s plenty more disruptive (in the best way) content besides, but let’s go with the new faces first …

Melusi meet Ace. Ace, this is Melusi and … good luck, man

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Steel Wave is bringing wide-reaching changes to Rainbow Six Siege, but to highlight how the terms of engagement are being expanded we have two perfect volunteers in the form of Melusi and Ace. Their biographies are laid bare on the official site, but we’ll add that the former’s resourcefulness and latter’s elite-minded military-trained history are reflected in how they play. Both are speedy, strong in a skirmish but equally strategically commanding.

Melusi is a 3-speed Defender armed with a T5 SMG or Super 90 shotgun as her main and RG15 handgun for a sidearm. She is so much fun to run-and-gun with after ‘setting out her stall’. Her unique deployable is a device called the Banshee, which slows the movement of attackers – although not their capability to aim and fire. Melusi is supremely agile and aggressive when required, but of course more effective in collaboration with other operators that also lay debilitating traps. Ubisoft names Smoke and Goyo as candidates.

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Ace is similarly thrilling as a self-reliant operator, his ability to hurl and snap into position a Breach Charge from meters away allows him to join the flankers soon after setting up point of entry and source of distraction. His defining primary is an AK12 auto rifle with NATO sights. Since he can place accurate shots from range and open line-of-sight opportunities without putting himself in danger this makes him a nuisance. The Charges are sequenced to a maximum of three explosions, auto-clearing entire barricades if left unchallenged. They’re not as effective on reinforced hatches, exploding only once per charge. However, you get some idea of Ace’s versatility and level of activity during any push as a 2-speed Attacker.

Despite their undoubted complexities, we’d say that Melusi and Ace are accessible and thrilling to use for the majority of players. That they pretty much cancel each other out is an intriguing proposition for when it’s time to get into that level of depth.

Amura the merrier

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One of September 2019’s ‘Operation Ember Rise’ newcomers, Amura, has received a welcome makeover too. The focus has been her Garra hook, which now boasts smoother / way more efficient and readable animation. It allows her to flow from flight into breach and opening fire with her ITA12S shotgun in one fluid action. Previously Amaru gained a sorry reputation as a sitting duck that would telegraph her arrival, much to a defending team’s great amusement. In addition, Amaru can hook her way up through non reinforced hatches. You could say that, effectively, Steel Wave is offering three viable new operators!

New-old house and a new-new toy

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Well, finally those renovations on House are now complete, meaning this classic casual map has gained quite a bit in terms of eye-candy and strategic real estate. There’s a huge, two-storey extension added to the back, a hallway now runs across what used to be the front porch leading to the bathroom, and the workshop has become a kid’s bedroom-nursery. That extension to the House has its own narrow, twisted stairway plus a small balcony.

The new House is an ideal testing ground for operators you’re looking to hone as favourites. You might also wish to trial all defenders’ new secondary gadget: the pesky Proximity Alarm. It performs exactly as advertised, alerting all defenders to the presence of hapless attackers. 

Since only one garage serves as an entry spot on the new House (the other is out of order, while the main door is locked shut), defenders can further limit points of entry. If Melusi’s Banshee is also in play, attackers have a steep learning curve to climb in coming months.

Champions of the World

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And finally … Steel Wave marks the end of regional Matchmaking Ratings. From Year 5, Season 2 onwards the MMR is unified across all territories. Though it is still the case that each playlist has its own MMR allocated, all efforts to climb ranks overall are now global. 

This change will especially affect the rarefied experience of dominating the Champions’ leaderboard. Since there is now only one leaderboard (not one per territory) the positions are more valuable, and you’d like to think coveted. Ubisoft is further adding a requirement of 100 matches played to the accumulation of 5000 MMR to claim that Champion status. 

‘Champions is not just about skills but also about dedication,’ says Ubisoft in a statement. While this may seem restricting to some of us, the focus is at the very least admirable. 

World Champion has a certain ring to it, no …?

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As for who gets what and when and for how much: All Rainbow Six Siege players receive the new House map, refinements to Amura and the Proximity Alarm free of charge when Steel Wave drops. Year 5 pass holders claim Ace and Melusi first, with seven days’ exclusivity. After that, the new operators can be purchased using Renown or accumulated R6 credits.

Last Updated: May 18, 2020

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