Rainbow Six Siege’s fourth year is set to close with a triumphant bang. The upcoming Operation Shifting Tides adds two new operators with gadgets that hark back to the game’s original lineup of operators, with a sniper operator that will eliminate Glaz from the meta and a versatile alternative to Jäger’s anti-projectile prowess.
The sniper operator is Kali, a mercenary hailing from India who joins the attacking side. Her CSRX 300 bolt-action sniper rifle is the first new weapon to arrive in Rainbow Six Siege since the start of the year, and the wait has certainly been worthwhile. The CSRX will instantly down an enemy with a single body shot, regardless of range and even through several walls. Making matters worse for the defending side, Kali’s sniper also comes with a variable zoom scope so she can switch between 5x and 12x, which is superb for contesting long angles, but also means she can fight indoors. Complimenting this already formidable loadout is her secondary, the C75 Auto. This rapid-fire machine-pistol is currently regarded as one of the best entry-fragging weapons in Rainbow Six Siege, so Kali is effective at all ranges.
But wait, there’s more. Kali’s gadget is the LV Explosive Lance, a special projectile she fires from an under-barrel that bores into any reinforced surface and destroys gadgets on both sides. It’s not quite as effective at clearing out gadgets as Thatcher’s EMP grenades are, but Kali finally provides an like-for-like alternative for teams who are tired of bringing the SAS operator along for every attacking round.
As appealing as that utility is, it’s the seductive power of her bolt-action sniper rifle that’ll keep you picking her on every attack round. Whether it’s the AWP in CS:GO, the Railgun in Quake 3, or Modern Warfare’s Intervention, every great FPS needs a sniper that feels punchy and powerful, and after four years with Glaz’s dinky marksman rifle as the only long-range option it feels exhilarating to wield a weapon with as much stopping power as the CSRX 300.
Neat touches like a lingering smoke trail and reworked bullet penetration ensure that every round feels impactful, plus being able to shoot out barricades or hatches with a single round is handy for catching defenders off guard. Her one-hit-kill power puts the fear of god into defenders and many times I was able to win a gunfight despite taking damage first.
Over on defence we have Wamai, a Kenyan defender who mixes the best qualities of Jäger and Lesion. His gadget is the cleverly named Mag-NET System, an electromagnetic device that hoovers up any projectile that’s thrown into its range and detonates it. Each Mag-NET is only capable of dealing with a single projectile, but Wamai’s gadgets refresh much like Lesion’s Gu mines, making him more valuable the longer you stay alive.
What really sets Wamai apart from Jäger is that his gadget distorts projectiles rather than neutralising them. So, while one of Jäger’s ADS devices would simply shoot a frag grenade out of mid-air, Wamai’s Mag-NET simply changes its course. This creates plenty of unpredictable scenarios, which can be disastrous for either team.
Playing as Wamai, I’ve had one of my Mag-NET Systems redirect an Asphyxiating Bolt towards an unwitting teammate, setting them on fire as they were scanning cameras. In another baffling encounter with Wamai – this time playing as an attacker – I threw a frag grenade over a desk only for it to hang in the air just in front of my face for a couple of seconds before detonating and killing me. Only after seeing the killcam did I realise that this was the result of a Mag-NET System hidden on the other side of the desk and not the result of a nasty glitch.
Wamai can carry the Aug A2, making him the first defender who can equip a fully-fledged assault rifle, or Mute’s MP5K as his primary weapon, so you won’t miss out on fragging power if you pick Wamai over Jäger. However, one trait that could make Wamai a more tantalising pick is that his gadgets can be thrown onto any surface, opening up countless placement options for crafty defenders. Whereas Kali is destined to kill off Glaz once and for all, it’s easy to picture Jäger and Wamai coexisting peacefully within the defensive meta.
Of course, the Rainbow Six Siege Shifting Tides release date will also add a rework of Theme Park. The most drastic change is the removal of the trains section in its entirety, squeezing the map together and giving attackers a fairer shot at seizing control of top floor. The main lobby entrance is now sealed off, removing a few nasty peek spots from defenders, but making drug lab much easier to defend.
However, the most noticeable tweak is to lighting, with the interior being brightened up substantially so that defenders can no longer cling to dark corners for easy kills. As ever, it’s impossible to tell from a short hands-on preview if the changes are enough to put this map back into the ranked map pool – it will take the endless creativity of the Siege community to uncover the map’s strengths and weaknesses – but this already feels like a more approachable and balanced map.
Ostensibly, Shifting Tides adds the first true sniper to Rainbow Six Siege, and Ubisoft has managed to craft a weapon that’s equal parts satisfying to shoot and effective at putting enemies down. Factor in the utility and she starts to look a little too powerful in the right hands. Wamai meanwhile, feels like a true alternative to Jäger complete with his own quirks and nuances for attackers to figure out. Together, Shifting Tides’ new operators aren’t about to re-shape the meta, but they promise a seriously good time, plus the opportunity to forego two of the most picked operators in Thatcher and Jäger. More options is always a good thing, so while Year 4 hasn’t been packed with meta-changes, it’s definitely been a ton of fun.