Attackers like Grim, R6’s newest operator, make me nervous. It’s frightening enough that he’s a three-speed with a superb primary weapon, but it’s his gadget – a deployable canister that drops tracking microbots – that sets alarm bells ringing. When he arrives as part of the upcoming Operation Brutal Swarm, he’ll bring yet another device that can live-ping a defender’s location, and if you combine Grim with other tracker operators like Lion, Jackal, or Dokkaebi, you can bully defenders without them being able to fight back.
However, unlike those other three trackers, Grim does at least require some skill and strategy to use effectively; it’s not just a case of pressing a button and getting free intel for your whole team. Before you can get any pings out to your teammates, you’ll have to switch to an over-the-shoulder launcher, pick a spot where the microbots will either root out a defender or stop them from moving, and then hope it doesn’t get blocked by defender gadgets like Mute jammers, Wamai discs, or Aruni gates. There’s a muddle of decision points and vulnerability baked into this gadget that’s reminiscent of the game’s original roster of spec ops characters.
Frustratingly, while all of those caveats make Grim feel fair, they also mean he arrives in Rainbow Six Siege feeling pretty redundant. If his fellow trackers can all perform their role without having to get anywhere near a defender, then why would you pick Grim? Alternatively, you can stack him alongside other trackers, allowing you to isolate and suffocate individual roamers, but leaving your team short when it comes to breaching utility.
The rest of Operation Brutal Swarm is similarly hit and miss. Stadium is the not so new map making its way to ranked and casual playlists, and has barely changed since its recent event-mode run. It’s a hodgepodge of sites from classic Siege maps, with unique twists like massive walls of bulletproof glass and entry options for attackers that are safe from spawn peeks. It’s impossible to predict how it will play in a competitive environment, but then map bans pretty much guarantee we won’t see that as players seemingly refuse to risk MMR by playing on a map they’re unfamiliar with. This is a problem Ubisoft is hoping to tackle by increasing the pool of maps in the ban phase from three to five, but it’s unlikely to stop whichever map is newest from being banned.
Brutal Swarm also aims to address the LMG meta that’s seen the pick rate and effectiveness of operators like Finka and Zofia soar in recent months. The problem is that attackers can use the LMG’s massive magazine count to pre-fire expected defender positions or take multiple gunfights with impunity. The supposed fix is a complete overhaul to recoil across every gun in the game, which Ubisoft hopes will encourage more tactical engagements and less full-auto gunfire. It’s a welcome change, but I’m not convinced it addresses the specific issues that LMGs – and Finka in particular – pose to the balance of the multiplayer game. Finka can still poke and probe and jab away with pre-fires, she’s still got a powerful gadget that’s always useful, and her supporting kit is still the envy of other attackers. The recoil change is exciting in terms of what other weapons and operators it can bring to the fore, but it doesn’t feel direct enough given how stale the current meta is.
A new Impact EMP secondary gadget promises to relieve attacking lineups from having to pick the likes of Thatcher, Kali, Twitch, or Maverick. It works just like Thatcher’s EMPs, but with a shorter disable duration and a significantly reduced range. Lion, Dokkaebi, Gridlock, Osa, Sledge, Montagne, Nøkk, and Blackbeard get access to the new gadget, but it’s particularly exciting for the likes of Osa, Gridlock, and Montagne who will naturally find themselves supporting a breach.
A few other tweaks deserve a mention. Rook’s armour plates now give DBNO defenders the ability to self-revive, while Dokkaebi’s Logic Bomb will now stop dead defenders from using cameras as it does with alive ones. The suppressor attachment no longer has a damage debuff, making it a much more viable option for certain weapons, and there’s far more consistency in terms of the attachments you can choose from. Last, but by no means least, Castle is finally, finally getting an elite skin.
That’s Operation Brutal Swarm in a nutshell. The update is hitting test servers tomorrow, while the official Rainbow Six Siege Brutal Swarm release date is September 6. If you’re new to Ubisoft’s flagship FPS game then be sure to check out our roundup of the best Rainbow Six Siege operators, which should save you wasting any renown on ineffective characters.