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Why Rainbow Six Siege’s Kali won’t be a return to the “dark days of Glaz”

She may be powerful at a distance, but rushing a bomb site will almost certainly prove fatal

Shifting Tides' Cali in a hallway aiming her rifle

With Operation Shifting Tides, Ubisoft is adding Rainbow Six Siege’s first proper sniper since launch. Sniping has been a bit of a problem for Siege, heavily focused as it is on teamplay and not standing on a rooftop hundreds of metres from the objective.

It’s this philosophy that has seen existing sniper Glaz playing lone wolf, existing miles from any actual relevance in the meta as his playstyle clashes with several core aspects of the game. And his weapons-grade irrelevancy is a good reason to be skeptical about the introduction of Kali, with her ridiculous OTT rifle.

Concerned at the potential balancing issues such an arrival might throw up, we sat down to chat with Rainbow Six Siege game designer Emilien Lemet at the Pro League Finals in Japan. We discussed how Ubisoft Montreal can get around the the ‘lone wolf’ gameplay that snipers are best known for, and how Kali fits in with Siege’s heavy teamwork. He says a great deal that should get players excited about Kali, and also hints at a future rework of Glaz.

PCGamesN: How do you make snipers work in a game like Siege?

Emilien Lemet: This was the main struggle for us during the past nine months, and essentially our solution is two fold. One: we try to make sure that [Kali is] fun to play, and not frustrating to play against. And two, we try to make sure it’s Siege-team oriented.

The team-oriented parts, we solve this by having her LV Explosive Lance gadget being a Thatcher alternative, Thatcher is one of the most team-oriented characters we have in the game, so Kali has versatility but we aren’t forcing our players to do anything. It’s going to encourage this player to be part of a five-person squad and push together to one objective – not stay outside forever, which is something we want to stay away from.

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But how do you ensure that it isn’t frustrating?

The first part is a lot of thought on how to make it enjoyable – the feel of shooting and having power when you’re holding an angle, making sure you feel like you’re in a strong position. But also, restricting your ability to just enter the objective and kill everyone. You’re not playing an entry fragger… it’s not the dark age of Glaz. We don’t want that again. So, a lot of thought went into how we can restrict that. That’s why the gun has a rather slow scoping in time – we don’t want you to quick scope everyone.

And the big zoom for the rifle.

The big zoom is interesting, because it’s a way to restrict you while giving you an advantage. So, you become stronger at building a long line of sight, which is good. That’s what we want. But, you become terrible at getting into the objective, because when you have this big zoom, your field of view is so minimal that you cannot just pass the door and hope to get kills everywhere in the room. It’s a restriction to make sure the player is handling this like a sniper, rather than a fragger. If you want to enter with the weapon in hand, you’re going to need to scope inside the objective, which is a bad time. So you put those two things together, suddenly you can’t just enter and frag and that’s perfect. That’s what we want.

Kali aiming through a hole in the wall

Which gives the advantage to the defenders when you get up close.

Exactly. If you’re the only one left alive, you’re better off with your sidearm, and that’s completely the balance we want to go with. If you’re holding an angle and you’re covering your rotation, or a specific area, you’re going to win if you shoot straight. But if you act rashly or try to play like an entry fragger, it’s not going to happen – you’re going to be putting yourself in a weak position.

Which is good because entry fraggers still have a place.

My point is that Kali is probably one of the worst to move onto the bomb site and that’s intentional. She’s great at other things. If you pick Kali, and I hope you do, you know you’re signing up for a very specific role on the squad. You need to rely on your teammates to cover your weaknesses, while you’re going to be able to hold your own on areas they’re weaker in.

She works well – holding a tight angle over a long corridor, where she feels unbeatable.

People are going to learn to play against that. So for the first few weeks, Kali is going to be a monster. But I’m convinced that with time, it’s going to settle in. They’re going to learn to recognise that very big sound and the tracer that comes which each shot, and while you’re safe enough standing outside, that’s not going to win you the round, right?

Rainbow Six Siege Kali Operator

It sounds like Kali is a great counter to peeking, which is a frustrating part of the current meta.

Yeah, exactly. She’s going to be able to counter peeks, but she’s also perfect to take out rotating pesky roamers. She’s going to catch them and deal with them. And in that sense, she’s bringing this to the table for the attacking team, because it’s a role which was kind of needed.

But her strength here is also why she can’t have everything. So, she doesn’t have this opening entry fragger capability, and most defenders will win fights with her up close.

Where does this leave Glaz? He’s been in a weak spot recently, and Kali feels like she does a lot of things he can do, but better.

Glaz is currently going through some changes.We’re going to try to see where we can fit him. It’s interesting, because a lot of people mentioned that Kali is the second sniper in the game. But we don’t see Glaz in the role at all. Glaz has never really been a sniper because he’s got a semi-automatic rifle. To us, Kali is the first with her actual, bolt-action sniper rifle.

Well, I mean it’s fair to say she’s the second one obviously, but it’s worth mentioning that Buck’s DMR is closer to Glaz’s weapon than Kali’s is to Glaz. The only real difference is that Glaz can’t select anything but a semi-automatic rifle, which makes a huge difference to how he plays compared to those with an automatic weapon.

The reality is that Kali is a step further towards that sniper gameplay than even Glaz, so they’re very different roles, and we’re hoping that with the recent tweak to Glaz’s fire rate, we’ll be able to start figuring out a spot for Glaz where he’s comfortable – because we know he’s not in the best place right now.

Artwork of Kali aiming rifle in Siege Shifting Tides

He feels like a problem operator, seeing as he’s already had a substantial rework and then became prominent in the meta for all the wrong reasons.

He’s always been problematic for us. But you will notice that Glaz, compared to Kali, doesn’t fit as nicely in a team, and his gadget is focused on his weapon. This was a mistake, as we saw with the Glaz dark days, it meant that he became a great fragger but wasn’t great in a stack on your team.

Luckily, the mistakes that we made with Glaz have allowed us to get it right with Kali. Now we just have to iterate on Glaz to find a spot for him that’s interesting. That’s not tied to Kali, he’s in his own spot, but we’re definitely not done with tweaking him.

How big could this rework go? If you don’t consider him a full sniper, will his weapon change?

That’s a broad question and I can’t really give you a definite answer. I don’t think we can completely change the weapon to something else, because I think it’s really part of his identity. So, we have to work within the constraints we have. We can’t make brand new weapons because we want the Glaz to remain Glaz, but we certainly want to find him a role that’s more interesting than what he has now.

We don’t want him to be back to being the oppressive force that you had before, but we want him to be a valid tactical choice, and I’m not sure if that’s true right now.