The second season of Rainbow Six Siege’s fourth year is set to launch during a tumultuous period in the game’s storied history. There have been horrendous glitches, resulting in the temporary removal of Clash, Claymores, and Deployable Shields from the game. Meanwhile multiple operator, gadget, and map reworks are in the pipeline. So it’s probably for the best that Phantom Sight’s additions feel a smidge underwhelming – the last thing Rainbow Six Siege needs right now is a new Lion or Ela.
New operators Nokk and Warden – hailing from the Danish Jaeger Corps and US Secret Service respectively – both bring familiar weapons and gadgets to Siege’s increasingly complex meta.
On the attacking team, Nokk’s Hel Presence Reduction gadget effectively pairs Vigil’s counter-surveillance tech with Caveira’s Silent Step ability to give the attackers their first thoroughbred stealth operator. She can temporarily cloak herself from camera feeds and quieten her footsteps, making her very tricky to keep track of. Unlike Vigil, Nokk’s cloaking device won’t fully deactivate when shooting, instead it will just glitch, revealing a rough outline on cameras that can’t be pinged by defenders.
Much like her defensive counterparts Vigil and Caveira, her gadget is all about slipping into key areas undetected and catching defenders off guard. To keep her restricted to that role Ubisoft has elected to kit her out with short-range weaponry: Nokk can equip either Smoke’s FMG-9 SMG or Lesion’s SIX12 SD silenced shotgun as her primary weapon.
While her cloaking ability sounds powerful, it’s tricky to tell just how effective it is when playing as her. Most of the time you don’t know where Valkyrie and Yokai’s drones are, so if you do manage to slip through undetected it’s more by luck than judgement. Where I did find it handy was in post-plant scenarios during which defenders typically use their observation tools to pick off attackers one at a time. Turning the cloaking device on and flanking to get a new angle on the planted defuser left the majority of the defensive team buzzing around a room I’d long since abandoned, wasting enough time to win us the round.
The part of Nokk’s gadget that I’ve fallen in love with, however, is the ability to silence her footsteps just like Caveira. Because of time pressure, attackers don’t often have the luxury of quietly crouch-walking their way across the map, so the ability to silently run for a few seconds is incredibly powerful. Defenders are heavily reliant on sound cues to sense where an attack is coming from, and on multiple occasions I was able to catch defenders completely unaware and grab a free kill. In one tense 2v4, I was able to quickly level the playing field by pulling away from a firefight and activating Nokk’s gadget. This allowed me to rapidly rotate to a stairwell on the other side of the map and grab two easy kills on defenders who were still watching the same angles they last saw me peeking – all because nobody heard me hurtling down the staircase behind them.
On defence, Warden’s Glance Smart Glasses grant him immunity to flashes and allow him to see clearly through smoke when active. It’s also a great reactionary gadget as it removes any flash effects upon activation, making Warden an ideal counter to a marauding Blitz or Ying.
He’s designed to sit on the frontline of a site hold and absorb pressure from stun and smoke grenades, before punishing any attackers that rush in assuming whoever’s there is blinded. Given how prevalent smoke-covered plants are, having a defender who can see clearly through these clouds is a powerful asset.
However, Ubisoft has made a concerted effort to keep this gadget balanced. In a similar limitation to the new Glaz rework, Warden’s Glance Smart Glasses only allow for clear sight through smoke when standing still. So, while Glaz will always have the advantage when contesting long angles through smoke, Warden can’t compound this by pushing through smoke to counter a defuser plant.
All of those caveats leave Warden in an odd position. His gadget is powerful, certainly, but it’s entirely reliant on the makeup and strategy of the attacking team. As a result, playing Warden can often be frustrating, but it’s all worth it for those moments in which you wait out a volley of stun grenades and immediately cut down any attackers who flood in afterwards.
Like Nokk, Warden’s loadout is comprised of weapons that are already in the game, ensuring that a portion of his kit is balanced out of the box. Warden can take the MPX SMG or M590A1 shotgun as his primary weapon, and either the P-10C or SMG-12 for his secondary.
The lack of new weapons might make the Phantom Sight operators a less exciting prospect than those introduced in previous seasons, but with 69 different primary weapons in the game already this slowdown is necessary for the health of Siege. To mix things up a little, Ubisoft has added a couple of new attachments to Nokk’s weapons – a Vortex scope for the FMG-9 and a D-50 pistol suppressor – both of which go a long way towards making her loadout feel fresh.
The new operation also adds a reworked version of the Kafe Dostoyevsky map, with an overhauled ground floor that makes the kitchen bomb site much more viable. The rework effectively divides the bakery and main reception of the ground floor into multiple, smaller rooms that make it harder for the attacking team to clear out. Some changes to the top floor add a second roof hatch to make entry easier for attackers, while a renovation to the mezzanine adds a couple more spots for defenders to anchor from that aren’t exposed to the infamous skylight. From the few hours I spend playing Kafe, the key takeaway is that the kitchen and bakery bomb site no longer feels like a death sentence for the defending team, which makes the map feel significantly larger.
Phantom Sight doesn’t shift the meta or add exotic new gadgets, then, but instead introduces two new operators who feel balanced, offering their respective teams an additional option – whether that’s a stealthy flanker on attack or an alternative anchor on defense. Naturally, time and pro-level play will tell if Nokk and Warden can cause a more serious upheaval to the meta, but early impressions suggest that the upcoming season will provide some much-needed stability while Ubisoft continues to address game’s somewhat peaky health.