A closer look at Rainbow Six Siege’s new update, Operation Velvet Shell

New additions to Rainbow Six Siege‘s [official site] roster of MOBA-style classes can drastically affect the game’s meta. Each of the content patches released so far have caused shifts in the pro scene that have then trickled down into public matches. This Tuesday brings the next, called Operation Velvet Shell. It marks the start of Rainbow Six Siege’s Year 2 DLC and introduces two new classes to the game, Mira and Jackal, and a new map called Coastline.

I was able to play with all of it ahead of its release during a recent visit to Ubisoft. The update is focusing on the idea of a deep defence – an objective that’s protected by people in the objective room but also by those in the adjacent rooms – and continuing to move away from the current meta’s focus on ‘roamers’. With that in mind, let’s get to know these armed assailants.

Mira, the new defender operator, brings the most pronounced change to the game so far with the ability to put one of two special breaching charges onto any wall — whether it’s reinforced or not — and blow a hole through it that’s then filled with a bullet-proof, one-way mirror. This glass, dubbed Black Mirror, lets those inside see through it, with a shootable charge at the bottom that allows players to drop the mirror and ambush enemies through an impromptu murderhole. Those on the outside just see a solid black piece of glass mounted into the wall, which means rethinking attacks on previously simple objectives like Chalet’s garage or the kids bedroom in House.

Mira is a ‘three armour, one speed’ operator, which means you’ll want to keep her in the objective room. Her loadout focuses on short range weapons with low recoil: the Vector .45 is a sub-machinegun with a small clip, and her secondary weapon is a shotgun – unique to her and Jackal. This means Mira has plenty of firepower at close range, no matter which weapons you choose. Finally, a nitro cell explosive means she can resist pushes from shield operators or toss the explosive through one of the holes left by her Black Mirror gadgets to surprise brave attackers.

Her ability syncs up with those of a few other operators on both sides. Attacker Hibana’s X-KAIROS gadget can counter the glass with its pellets by shooting it directly, which shatters it, or by blowing a hole in the reinforced wall beneath the Black Mirror so you can get a line of fire on anyone trying to look through it. The Black Mirror also works well with Tachanka’s turret, giving a much needed buff to the underutilised defender, and an increased focus on the “siege” part of Rainbow Six Siege means that Mute is going to be more valuable, especially when it comes to blocking potential Hibana counters. Mira is a lot of fun to play, and I’m expecting her to make a big impact in games immediately.

On the attacker side, the new class is Jackal, a ‘two armour, two speed’ operator with a toolkit to take down roaming operators. Roamers are defenders who, rather than hunker down in an entrenched position, play more aggressively by wandering all parts of the map. Jackal’s first counter to that tactic is a camera that detects footsteps on the ground. This is quite powerful for tracking roaming operators by itself, but he also has the ability to “lock on” to sets of footprints three times during the match to reveal that operator’s location and identity. This also puts a trace on them which periodically informs you of their position three separate times before the effect expires. Locking on notifies the tracked enemy, encouraging them to return to a better defended area for the length of the tag, or at least to put themselves against a wall and play defensively.

Jackal’s gadget is backed with an aggressive loadout. The C7E is a beefy assault rifle, with good damage and penetration. The PDW9 is a submachine gun with a 50 round drum magazine, dishing out low damage but well suited for enemies you’ve discovered with his ability through walls. This is backed up with a primary and secondary shotgun, making him perhaps the best operator for shooting wildly through surfaces in the hope of snatching a kill.

Jackal is unlikely to see much play at the pro level, as he loses out to several operators that are faster or have more utility at the highest level of play. In public matches however, he may signal the death of the roamer as a common feature, and seems tailor-made to protect the attackers’ assault from any surprises. This might in turn diminish the popularity of Rook and Valkyrie, operators who had found an audience for their ability to ambush unlucky attackers with careful camera use and decent weaponry. Jackal does indirectly buff Caviera however, strengthening her stealthy skillset, since when she activates her silent step ability she’ll be undetectable to Jackal. Mute will also get a boost, as Jackal’s headset is an electronic gadget and can therefore be disrupted.

Mira feels more immediately powerful, with her punchy weapons, but I’m strongly of the opinion that when players work out what Jackal is for, and what situations he thrives in, he’ll have a ripple effect on the game too. At the moment he’s a theoretical threat: the idea that he could be in the round seems like a stronger deterrent to roaming than anything he can actually do on the ground.

Coastline, set in a party mansion by the sea, feels like one of the simplest maps released as DLC so far. Its layout resembles a double-decker combat doughnut, with a circular map around a central courtyard, filled with sightlines for attackers to have clear views on the routes defenders use to move around. It’s one of the most immediately compelling maps I’ve played in Rainbow Six Siege. The layout feels like a denouncement of roaming as a strategy, while the clusters of defensible rooms around each objective mean that, at this stage, the best way to defend it is to bed in.

Velvet Shell, and new map Coastline, is available on Tuesday. Season pass holders have exclusive access to operators for the first week, after which they’re available to anyone with the in-game cash to buy them.

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13 Comments

  1. Banks says:

    Jackal is going to be so stupidly overpowered that it’s going to completely break the game, like BBeard did when he was released.

    So I’m always going to play as Caveira and knife his ass.

    • Budikah says:

      I don’t think he’ll be terribly overpowered once the dust settles – people will just need to rethink their plans and perhaps their travel times/travel routes if they expect him to be played.

      Some matches my team hunkers down close to objectives and he isn’t going to help them much in that regard – it’ll really just piss off the crazy people like me who sprint out of spawn to setup an ambush elsewhere on the map.

      • Jaketucker says:

        I really don’t think Jackal is going to be stupidly overpowered, I see him more like Capitao – super powerful in one specific case (roamers on cameras littered around the map) and very useful in that circumstance, but a bit too focused to be a must pick every time.

  2. Budikah says:

    I was on the “screw uplay, screw Ubisoft” bandwagon forever… and then I bought this game.

    It still has it’s issues mainly relating to server/matchmaking, but this patch seems to aim to rectify it. This game deserves most of the praise it gets. The level of suspense that is present within the matches and the insane plays that can be made make every game a bit of a nailbiter unless your team got truly rolled.

  3. earthmachine says:

    I really enjoyed siege but I really wish the devs would do something with terrorist hunt. I really miss the days of tactical coop shooters.

    • TheSplund says:

      Yup. I have dabbled in MP but the TH modes give me and a mate the most fun playing on co-op (we’re currently trying to work through all maps/modes on realistic). Some way to add doors and door-blocking (a la wedges in SWAT4) and maybe multiple hostages (again a la SWAT and also CS) might be a simple addition. Still, we get an extra 4 maps a year (5 if you include Bartlett)

      • CMaster says:

        I don’t get what you guys see in THunt. The AI terrorists move like turrets, seem to have no sense, and it cheekily spawns them all over you, so you can’t prepare properly. On top of that, all the operators gadgets are very MP focussed.

  4. BobbyDylan says:

    Wow, looking at footprints will spot the location of an enemy? Who thought that was a good idea? Why not just follow the Footprints, why the magic spot?

  5. tonicer says:

    I was giving Siege a hard time, as a gamer who played every Rainbow Six game that released on PC and seeing the series decline thanks to those damn consoles but after the free weekend i bought it (on ebay for 17€) and i love it. The COOP part is awesome, just a bit to frantic 80% of the people i played with since are just sprinting and rushing like maniacs but the 20% are amazing experiences of tactical coolness of people using their operators abilities and gadgets, helping each other and playing like “adults”. I hope the COOP gets more love. Maybe even a Campaign like in all the other Rainbow Six games through the means of a DLC. Even the terribly consolified Vegas games are fun to play in COOP. I would gladly pay for such a DLC.

    • Jaketucker says:

      I think this is the strongest since Raven Shield. Sure, it’s not got much of a single player, but the multiplayer concept of fighting an intelligent and well-prepared enemy is pure Rainbow.

  6. CMaster says:

    WAit, Rook as a roamer? I mean, I’ve done it from time to time, but I wouldn’t have said he was popular for it. (Not compared to Frost/Valk/Jaeger).

    Also, reguarly post, but if you like theis game, or want to give ita try, come join the RPS discord (discord.gg /RockPaperShotgun , remove the space) where we have teams most nights, and players everywhere from unranked/Bronze to Diamond.

    • Jaketucker says:

      You won’t get a chance to try it out now probably, as the patch hits in a few hours, but he’s surprisingly good as a roamer with either a P90 for up-close firepower or the Acog’d MP5 for scraping bad guys off of walls.

      He’s also got plenty of utility, with the impact grenades allowing him to easily make escape holes or scare off shields, and because he’s already handed over armour at the start of the round, he’s already giving plenty of value to the team even if you get found out early on.

      He’s a really popular roamer towards Gold-Plat level, although as I said, I imagine that’ll change.

  7. Raoul Duke says:

    That picture is just profoundly lame and irritating.