Ubisoft has fully revealed all of the major changes coming to Rainbow Six Siege with the upcoming Operation Steel Wave, from new ops and secondary gadgets, to balancing changes and the long-awaited House rework. Despite all of the leaks, players have been keen to see the new Steel Wave operators in action, to see how their gadgets work in-game and what their strengths and counters are.
But a new season is about a lot more than new ops, and leaks haven’t scratched the surface when it comes to the sheer number of changes set to shift the meta when the Rainbow Six Siege Steel Wave release date rolls around. New secondary gadgets like the Proximity Alarm will further diversify the ways defending teams set up site holds, balancing changes will push Rainbow Six Siege operators like Amaru into the limelight, and there are even some technical updates like an overhaul to Siege’s MMR system.
We’ve tested out almost all of the changes for ourselves, so join us as we break down everything we know about the Steel Wave update.
- AK12 or M1014
- Breach Charge or Smoke Grenade
Ace is our new attacker from Norway. He’s a two-speed, two-armour hard breacher who uses a throwable S.E.L.M.A. device to sequentially breach reinforced surfaces.
Each S.E.L.M.A. will produce three breaches, each one similar in size to a full Hibana pellet spread. However, as this device unravels sequentially, with all three detonations you’ll end up with a huge breach large enough to vault over or crouch through. The full three detonations for a single charge takes about 12 seconds. As these devices can be thrown quickly you can easily open up two areas of a reinforced panel simultaneously, making it very hard for a Bandit to trick both panels.
Ace carries three of these devices, so he adds a huge amount of hard breach utility to the attacking team, with the potential to open up three easily traversable entry points all on his own. Ace also boasts plenty of flexibility as his S.E.L.M.A. can open up hatches, too – you’ll need to use two on a reinforced hatch to open it as they use gravity to unfurl. Finally, the gadgets will also destroy defender utility like the Deployable Shields and Melusi’s gadget if you throw it onto them – so you can use it to clear out obstacles if your team’s Thermite has already opened up the site.
So, what about Ace’s guns? Ace repurposes Fuze’s AK12, except the Norwegian uses NATO sights. It’s one of the fastest killing guns in Rainbow Six Siege so Ace will be a formidable attacker. His other loadout options include the M1014 shotgun, the P9 handgun, and the choice between Breach Charges and Smoke Grenades as his secondary gadget. He may well be one of the most useful attackers in the game with all of that utility.
Finally, how do you counter Ace? His S.E.L.M.A. can be Bandit of Kaid tricked and you can stop its progress with a Mute device. A Maestro Evil Eye can zap the trap, defenders can shoot it, and a Mozzie with a captured Twitch drone can destroy it as well. Finally, as the device is thrown, Jager and Wamai can both intercept it mid-air – so make sure you drone things out before wasting one of these.
One thing we noticed during playtesting is that as most players will throw these at the top of a wall, defenders can easily Impact Grenade trick the device before it can detonate its second charge. Of course there’s a flipside to this in that any attackers with frag grenades can cook them and throw them through the breach hole to stop a Bandit or Impact trick.
- T5SMG or Super 90
- Deployable Shield or Impact Grenade
Melusi is our new defender from South Africa. She’s a three-speed, one-armour trapper operator who places three bulletproof Banshee devices activate when an attacker strays into its area of effect – the Banshee slows an attacker’s movement and emits a loud droning sound.
As it’s bulletproof the Banshee can only be destroyed with explosives or melee, so attackers will have to use some utility to deal with it. Crucially, the slow effect only affects movement speed so will not have a slower turning speed and should be able to reasonably respond in a gunfight. The effect also appears to intensify as you get closer to the gadget, so the initial entry might not slow you much, but you’ll need to be extra careful when you move in to melee the gadget and remove it. Melusi gets three of these that have the same placement behaviour as Jager’s ADS. Used in chokepoints and surrounded by Jager and Wamai’s devices, these devices make pushes nearly impossible until they are cleared out.
What’s more, the Banshee acts as an alarm system, so even if Melusi dies early on her gadgets will be providing essential intel as long as they’re still intact. Her gadgets also indirectly buff other defender gadgets like Goyo’s Volcán Shield and Smoke’s Remote Gas Grenades as they’ll make it very hard for attackers to escape their deadly area of effect. Clash is a particularly powerful combination as the slow effect stacks.
Melusi’s loadout is also very strong. She can carry either the T5SMG or Super 90 as her primary weapons and uses the RG15 as her pistol. As for secondary gadgets, her choice is between the Deployable Shield and Impact Grenade.
To counter Melusi you’ll need to bring any grenades you have on the board. Ash and Zofia can destroy her gadgets from a safe distance, but you’ll need to clear out any grenade denial first. Kali’s lances and Fuze’s Cluster grenades can also clear these out, as can a well-timed frag grenade. Alternatively, you can temporarily disable the gadget with a Twitch or Thatcher, and if you’re feeling really cute you can Finka boost your team so you can run past the gadget at normal speed.
The Proximity Alarm was teased at the start of the year and is finally coming with Y5S2. This is a throwable device that attaches to any surface and when an attacker wanders into its area of effect it emits a high-pitched ping. This is effectively a placeable version of the weapon scanner alarms found on maps like Border and Bank. Goyo and Mira are both getting this as a secondary gadget, allowing them to worry less about flanks.
The House rework is also new and arriving in Operation Steel Wave, but the expanded and renovated setting won’t be making its way to ranked playlists and will only be available in casual. Most of the key sights are still intact, but there have been some tweaks to make the map more balanced – although not necessarily ready for competition.
The biggest changes are to the garage site, which now only has one breachable wall, and the main entrance, which is sealed off entirely. Construction has now been changed into a pink bedroom, there’s a two-floor extension at the back of the house with a music room now, and the balcony is no longer the only way to rotate from kid’s bedroom to bathroom and master.
It’s a large overhaul, but has managed to retain a lot of the character and recognisable sites from the fan-favourite original. As for how competitive it is, it’s far too early to tell, but the fact that Ubiosft has kept it in casual suggests it won’t find its way into a competitive match any time soon.
Also coming with Y5S2 is a significant buff to Amaru aimed at making her gadget capable of actually taking a defender by surprise. While the exact numbers and changes are vague, Ubisoft says it’s made her hook timings and animations smoother so you can gain full control of her gun sooner. Crucially, the Garra Hook will now only break a barricade when she kicks through it, so it will be much harder for an anchoring defender to react in time. In addition, you no longer need to shoot out a hatch before going up through it – the Garra Hook will do all of this in one motion.
It’s hard to say if this will make Amaru practical, but they’ll certainly make life and traversal easier for those few Amaru mains out there.
New Elite skin for Echo
Every season we seem to get a new Elite skin and this season’s addition to the premium catalogue is the Tenkamusou Echo Elite skin. This snazzy jet black uniform will arrive on the same day as the Steel Wave launch.
Unified MMR and Champions rank changes
The last major change arriving with Operation Steel Wave concerns MMR. A common complaint in the community has been with players region-swapping as players had different MMRs depending on the region they play in. As a result, many would change regions so they could rank up against a different set of players or simply to get easier games. To combat this, Ubisoft is unifying MMR so that there’s no regional difference.
This change directly impacts the Champion rank as it makes it a worldwide rank. Additionally, it is now even more difficult to break into Champion rank as you will need to have played 100 games to reach the rank – this threshold has been put in place to emphasize dedication as well as skill.
Finally, you’ll need to be level 50 to access Ranked playlists now, which should eliminate some smurfing and cheating.
Weapon attachment skins
Grey, black, and tan skins have been added for your weapon attachments. Ubisoft says they will add more, but these free additions will be the first of their type.