Rainbow Six Siege is a complex shooter; perhaps one of the most intricately designed multiplayer games being played right now. The depth comes from numerous places - the destructible environments, the design of the maps - but primarily from the unique skills offered by its playable operatives. But what are the best Rainbow Six Siege operators? PCGamesN have been training with Tom Clancy’s elite troopers in order to find out.
Related: the best multiplayer games on PC.
Rainbow Six Siege attacker roles
While there may only be two ‘classes’ in Rainbow Six Siege - attackers and defenders - there’s still the level of granularity that you’d expect to see in a class-based shooter. When playing the attacking team, the operator you choose will typically slot into one of five different roles. These are:
These Operators specialise in removing fortifications and blowing holes in walls. This is an essential attacking role as it opens up new routes and viewpoints for reaching the objective and clearing out hostiles respectively. Ash, Thermite, Sledge and Hibana are the only attacking Operators with gadgets specifically designed for breaching, although most attackers can equip breach charges.
A disruptor is an Operative designed to cancel out enemy devices and strategies by either destroying them or locating them. IQ, Twitch and Thatcher are all excellent counters to employ against defending sides who rely on entry denial gadgets and tactics.
No matter how careful your team is, at some point in each round you need to push in order to reach the objective - that’s where aggressors come in handy. These Operators are great at harassing the enemy into making mistakes, causing instant mayhem and forcing defenders out of position. They typically wield large calibre weapons with solid penetration values: Buck, Fuze, Sledge, Blackbeard and Capitão are good fits for this role.
It’s one thing blowing a great big hole through a wall, it’s another thing entering the room and facing the threats inside. Operators with shields like Fuze, Blitz and Montagne excel here as they can absorb huge amounts of damage and act as a distraction allowing other Operators to enter the fray with ease.
While much of Rainbow Six Siege’s action takes place in close-quarters environments, it’s always helpful to have a sniper on your team who can protect against roaming defenders, shoot through light fortifications and keep defenders pinned back. Buck, Glaz and Blackbeard are especially effective in this role as they come equipped with powerful and accurate rifles. However, any Operator with an assault rifle is capable of fulfilling this role.
Rainbow Six Siege best attacker operators
- Gadget: X-KAIROS Launcher
- Armour: 1/3
- Speed: 3/3
What makes Hibana such an effective breacher is versatility. Her gadget, the X-KAIROS, fires six explosive pellets that can blow a small hole through reinforced surfaces. You get three shots, which means you get the choice of creating either one large entry point that your team-mates can walk through, a traversable hole that you can vault through, or a letterbox entrypoint that you can crawl through, which leaves you with two shots spare that can be used to make windows to shoot through in other reinforced walls. The X-KAIROS can also destroy fortified windows and thin walls, much like Ash’s M120 CREM. The only drawback is that it the X-KAIROS takes longer to trigger and can be rendered useless by Mute’s Signal Disruptor. Similarly Hibana can’t open up a reinforced wall as quickly and effectively as Thermite, but she doesn’t have to risk her life by getting in close in order to place the charge.
Hibana has plenty to offer aside from her gadget. She has the top speed rating, which allows her to navigate the map at pace and attack multiple entry points. She also has one of the best assault rifles in the game, the Type 89F. It might have a very small magazine, but it’s excellent stopping power and nearly unrivalled accuracy make it a peerless attacking firearm - especially when coupled with Hibana’s ability to create lines of sight from range. Her Bearing 9 PDW also lends her a formidable alternative should you run out of ammo.
- Gadget: EMP grenades
- Armour: 2/3
- Speed: 2/3
Entry denial can be a huge problem for attacking teams, and Thatcher is the best counter to this type defensive setup. Mute’s signal disruptors and Bandit’s CED-1 Shock Wire render breaching devices, drones and Fuze’s cluster charges useless. Likewise, Jäger’s Active Defense System neutralises any projectiles that pass by it, which means bombarding the objective with explosives isn’t an option. Thatcher’s EMP grenades can counter all of these devices, even through walls and floors.
Thatcher’s place is therefore on the frontline with the main squad, where he can employ his EMP grenades and allow Hibana, Fuze and Twitch to get to work breaching and clearing. The fact that EMP grenades can work through walls are their saving grace, as they can easily be knocked out by Jäger’s ADS - instead, you can throw an EMP grenade at a reinforced wall and reliably knock out a vital enemy gadget.
The best way to play Thatcher is to support your team until you’ve used all of your EMP grenades and then begin harassing the enemy either at close-range with the devastating M590A1 shotgun, or from afar with the L85A2 assault rifle. Both weapons have exceptional stopping power, but the former is among the best shotguns in the game and can punch through walls and barricaded windows with ease, making it an excellent breaching tool. Thatcher also boasts medium armour and speed stats, so he’s adaptable to most playing styles. The most important thing to do when playing Thatcher is to stay alive until you’ve knocked out as much enemy equipment as possible - after that you’re just another soldier.
- Gadget: Skeleton Key
- Armour: 2/3
- Speed: 2/3
The curious thing about Buck is that his gadget isn’t all that elegant - it’s an under-barrel shotgun. That means Buck’s only purpose is to kill, which is fine actually, because he’s really pretty good at it.
Buck’s arsenal is at the core of his power and versatility. Both of his main weapons - the C8-SFW assault rifle and the CAMRS marksman rifle - excel at medium to long-range combat, and both can down enemies quickly and efficiently. At close range Buck has the aforementioned Skeleton Key under-barrel shotgun, a semi-automatic shotgun that can down enemies in a single round close-up, or a couple when the range is greater. It fires quickly and takes magazines to ensure a quick reload time, but its unsung potential is in opening up lines of sight in thin walls, barricades, and even floors. A single shot can create a hole in a wall large enough to vault through, offering either an instant breaching opportunity or a sizeable hole to shoot through.
The adaptability makes Buck one of the best aggressive attackers in the game, and he makes up for his lack of gadgetry by being the only operator in the game who can effectively deal with any type of combat encounter. He’s best used in and around the objective room, where his ability to immediately switch from rifle to shotgun makes him unpredictable and even create the illusion that two operators are present.
- Gadget: Extendable Shield
- Armour: 3/3
- Speed: 1/3
Of the three Operators with shields in the game, Montagne is by far the most durable. This is because he can extend his shield creating a barrier that’s impossible to shoot past or around - back Montagne into a corner and there’s no way to knock him down unless you’ve got some C4.
For obvious reasons, this makes Montagne the focal point of any attack, and allows him to rush the objective taking the enemy by surprise and distracting them so the rest of your team can sweep up. The drawback is that Montagne is incredibly difficult to use solo, but he can still lay down a good amount of damage with one of his sidearm choices, the LFP586 revolver. Care should also be taken to avoid and back away from close encounters as a single Nitro Cell can kill Montagne even if his shield is fully extended.
The fact that Montagne is effectively bulletproof hands him the edge in any room-clearing scenario, even though he can’t deal out any damage. As a Defender, Montagne’s presence his hard to ignore, which is detrimental when it comes to spotting and killing other attackers.
- Gadget: Flip Sight
- Armour: 2/3
- Speed: 2/3
Snipers are undervalued in Rainbow Six Siege because all of the action takes place indoors. However, Glaz’s OTs-03 marksman rifle comes with a flip sight, which allows him to switch from a scoped perspective to a red dot sight, meaning your peripheral vision isn’t harmed in close-quarters clashes.
The calibre, stopping power and potential to zoom in over long distances make Glaz an essential asset when it comes to storming any room with outside walls and windows. In these situations Glaz is best positioned far from the action where he can essentially observe an entire side of windows, both covering any attackers who might be breaching and antagonising the defenders by destroying barricades and forcing them to cover more angles. Additionally, as you don’t have to physically get in close to do any of this, Glaz is especially useful at the start of rounds. By shooting at windows he can often draw curious defenders into his line of sight, racking up easy kills with in the first minute of the round beginning. The OTs-03 is also invaluable when attacking the objective from a rappelling stance as its zoom allows you to exploit the narrowest angles and lines of sight.
Rainbow Six Siege defender roles
Unlike attacking operators, defenders can’t be so neatly slotted into specific roles. Broadly speaking you have characters who are good at locking down areas and denying entry, those who support the team, and operators who excel at guarding the objective. Good team composition will cover all these bases, but in general there’s less of a rigid structure than seen in the attacking corner.
Lockdown / Area Denial
The preparation phase will see the defending team attempt to protect their charge - be that a hostage, biohazard, or bombs - by erecting barriers and deploying gadgets. Every defender can block up windows and doors with wooden planks, and everyone is also equipped with two metal reinforcing barriers that can be used on many walls or hatchways. This means everyone is useful in a lockdown role, but operators like Mute, Bandit, and Castle have gadgets that are specifically designed to stop the enemy breaking into your territory.
A subset of defending operators have gadgets designed to support the team and keep them alive. These become very useful in the main phase, as they can mean the difference between life and death. Jäger’s ADS, for example, will stop grenades in their tracks and save you from dying a loud and messy death, while Doc’s syringe can bring a downed player back from the brink of death.
The final category of defenders are the guards, whose job is to, well, guard the objective. While all of the defenders have this as part of their job description, the guards will have gadgets designed to facilitate this. Guards themselves can be split into two different types: stationary and roamers. Tachanka is a stationary; he needs to set up his machine gun near to the objective and stay close to it, ensuring that heavy fire is available when the enemy storm the objective. Caveira is a roamer; using Silent Step she can quiety stalk around the map and eliminate attackers before they reach the objective.
Rainbow Six Siege best defender operators
- Gadget: Signal Disruptor
- Armour: 2/3
- Speed: 2/3
Mute is an essential pick for a defending team thanks to his versatile signal disruptor. These gadgets are placed on the floor and project a jamming field around them. Any signals within that circle are scrambled, meaning attackers won’t be able to trigger nearby breaching charges or pilot drones. The signal disruptor is incredibly useful all through a match: by placing them at doorways during the preparation phase you should be able to effectively deactivate drones seeking out your position. When the main phase begins you can then reposition the disruptors to the bottom of key walls that you don't want destroyed by breach charges.
Mute works as an incredibly effective counter for any attacker using some form of electronic device. That means devastators like Fuze and his cluster charge can be rendered impotent, and you can defend your reinforced walls from Thermite. Thatcher’s electronic disabling EMP grenades are your main threat, so try and eliminate him as soon as possible.
In terms of weaponry, Mute has the MP5K submachine gun or M590A1 shotgun. Both are perfectly viable mid-range guns, although the 30-round magazine and burst-fire ability of the MP5K make it a touch more desirable.
- Gadget: Armour Pack
- Armour: 3/3
- Speed: 1/3
Rainbow Six Siege’s realistic tone means, in a great deal of cases, one shot kills. You can, however, dramatically increase your team’s chance of survival by playing Rook. Not only does he wear a huge amount of body armour himself (hence the full marks armour value), but his gadget is a pack of five bulletproof vests that the entire team can wear. With these equipped, there’s a greater chance that getting shot will cause you to become Down But Not Out instead of dead. When you’re DBNO, other players can revive you and get you back in the fight.
It’s important to drop the armour pack as soon as the preparation phase begins; the rest of the team can then immediately suit up and get on with their own tasks. If people refuse the armour it may be wise to destroy it, as attackers can also make use of it.
Rook’s loadout consists of a punchy shotgun or one of two SMGs; the P90 or MP5. The P90 is an excellent spray-and-pray gun thanks to its sizable magazine, but the MP5 is far easier to handle. Both are probably preferable to the shotgun, although if you’re planning to roam with Rook and get in close it can be handy. He also has a choice of handgun; the LFP586 magnum revolver or P9 semi-auto. The P9 is a solid all-rounder, but if you’re taking an SMG into battle you may want to consider the heavy punch of the revolver as a nice hand-held alternative to the shotgun.
- Gadget: Black Eye Camera
- Armour: 2/3
- Speed: 2/3
Arguably Siege’s most effective roamer, Valkyrie is a very mobile defender who can vastly increase the team’s vision. She carries three throwable cameras that can be adhered to any surface. Knowing where to best place to deploy them requires intricate knowledge of the maps, but when you know what areas are in need of surveillance you can make very effective use of the Black Eyes. When set up, all players can view the camera feeds using their tablet gadgets.
With all that extra information about what’s going on in the map, Valkyrie is well positioned to stalk enemies and eliminate them. Indeed, she’s been a driving force in making the meta so roamer-centric. And when she’s on the move she’s absolutely devastating: her MPX submachine gun is one of the fastest firing weapons in the game, and makes for a great close-quarters tool.
Alternatively there’s the infamous SPAS-12, a semi-automatic shotgun that can spit deadly buckshot without the need to manually cycle rounds. As if these didn’t make Valkyrie dangerous enough, her sidearm is the chunky D-50 pistol, or ‘hand cannon’ as it’s best described. Like the Norse character she takes her name from, Valkyrie can certainly choose who dies on the battlefield.
- Gadget: Active Defense System
- Armour: 1/3
- Speed: 3/3
Grenades are particularly lethal in Siege thanks to the game being set at room scale. It’s hard to escape confined, shrapnel-friendly areas in a hurry. Wouldn’t it be great if grenades just didn’t work? That’s where Jäger comes in handy. His ‘Magpie’ gadget can detect, track, and disarm explosives. And since the system is automated, Jäger can be off roaming and killing attackers. No need to babysit.
Jäger carries three Magpies, and they can be affixed to walls and floors. Each one can disarm two explosives before shutting down, so it’s important to consider where they’re placed. For example, if you place all three in one room, they can almost completely neutralise the pellets fired by Fuze’s cluster charge (one typically makes it through, so still dive for cover). Alternatively, placing one by three main attacker entry points should save you from the grenades they toss before entering themselves.
For weaponry, Jäger can pack either the 416-C carbine or M870 shotgun. While the shotgun has its uses, the 416-C is the one you’ll want to take. Every defender aside from Jäger uses a submachine gun, which makes this compact assault rifle option important and unique. The bigger cartridge means more stopping power, making it far and away the most sensible choice.
- Gadget: Black Mirror
- Armour: 3/3
- Speed: 1/3
As a defender you typically have to make do with very limited vision. After barricading the target area the only way to track the enemy is by either walking out into the danger zone or using the few CCTV cameras. Mira helps solve this problem by making her own windows in reinforced walls. Her bulletproof glass panels are one-way mirrors, meaning you can see through them but people on the other side can’t. Placing them in the walls of your fortified room means you’ll be able to see exactly when the enemy are making their approach.
When the enemy do arrive, you can shoot out a gas cannister in the mirror frame that causes the glass to drop. Now you can simply line up headshots and eliminate those tangos before they breach the door. Do be careful though; the glass shatters when you do this, meaning that hole will be open for the rest of the match. The enemy could use this to their advantage.
If you’re a shotgun fan Mira is a strong choice, being able to equip them as both primary and sidearms. It’s sensible to take the smaller ITA12S shotgun and opt for the Vector .45 ACP as your primary weapon; it’s the fastest firing submachine gun in the game and has incredibly low recoil. You’ll want to aim for the head, though, since it’s not the most lethal weapon in Siege’s arsenal.
Those are our picks, but are they the elite soldiers you take into battle? Let us know your preferred operators in the comments.