Mid-season reinforcements are kind of a big deal for Rainbow Six Siege players. With the game continuing to grow in popularity and complexity, this season’s highlight patch felt like an important one - a haul of fixes to show the community what kind of tack Ubisoft Montreal would be employing to freshen up the game’s meta during its all-important second year. Unfortunately though, this latest patch has missed the mark with the majority of its changes, either buffing already strong operators or making inconsequential changes to those that need the most work.
New to the game? Check out our guide to the best Rainbow Six Siege operators.
The changes are by no means terminal - Rainbow Six Siege is still one of the most compelling multiplayer shooters of the past decade - and the fact that one patch going awry has caused a stir among the community says plenty about the quality of the game itself. The Velvet Shell mid-season reinforcements have expanded the rift between the game’s best and worst operators, and with six more operators coming to the game this year it’s looking increasingly unlikely that meaningful buffs will be coming to Rainbow Six Siege’s weakest and least popular picks.
The patch’s headliner says it all: a thermal scope for one of the most powerful operators in the game, Glaz. Already an operator capable of turning a game completely around when used by a skilled player, Glaz has been turned into a guaranteed kill-per-round operator for relative newcomers and a veritable superhero for would-be pros. Glaz can now see through smoke and gas with perfect vision, and can spot an exposed shoulder, head or foot from great distance. The way that the scope works is questionable, too. You don’t get a messy heatmap with red hot blurs and plumes of blue, orange and purple flowing into one another, instead you get a beaming, crystal clear yellow figure in your sights. It doesn’t stop there either, Glaz can also be equipped with three smoke grenades, which means he can quickly fill a room with smoke, waltz in and shoot every clueless foe in sight. The same goes for windows, sight lines and choke points - practically every means a player has of locking down an objective - it’s nearly impossible to defend against him now.
They turned Glaz into Batman. Of course it’s fun to use, but scoring two one-hit kills from across the map after spotting slithers of bright yellow you’d otherwise never be able to see just feels dirty, especially in a game that’s all about tense, close-quarters encounters. Granted, Glaz has needed a buff to make him more effective up close for a long time now, but something as simple as a new sidearm would have done the job.
Doc also received a minor buff to his Stim Pistol as part of the Velvet Shell mid-season reinforcements, but it’s not going to convince any players that currently avoid him to change their selection habits. Raising the amount of health Doc’s Stim Pistol can overheal himself and teammates to 140 from 120 is a meagre offering for a operator whose effectiveness relies far too heavily on being in the right place at the right time. The buff handed out to Doc does nothing to solve the fundamental problems plaguing anyone who tries to use him, which means the only reasons there are for picking him are his MP5 and self-healing ability - 100 hours spent playing multiplayer and I still haven’t seen a single player use his Stim Pistol to revive a downed friendly. It still takes too much time to swap and use, and reloading it takes an age as well. Speeding that process up could be the key to making him a more selfless operator, and making his gadget feel more accessible will make all the difference to pros and novices alike.
And what about Buck? This Season’s mid-season reinforcements have kitted the Canadian operator out with an additional magazine for his Skeleton Key under-barrel shotgun, which was already pretty well stocked with ammo. Instead of fixing the unmanageable recoil on his C8-SFW assault rifle, Ubisoft Montreal have opted to boost the number of shotgun shells he carries from 16 to 20, essentially giving players license to unload on any walls, windows or floors in sight while reassuring them that they’ll still have enough shells left to storm the room afterwards.
Caveira, one of the most popular and powerful defensive operators in the game also received a minor buff to her silenced Luison pistol, which has made it almost as effective over mid-range as it is in close-quarters. That’s an absolute maximum of three body shots for a kill. More consistent damage drop-off won’t make a noticeable difference to the way Caveira plays, but she’s well overdue a nerf, not a buff.
A quick glance through the patch’s weapon fixes confirms that the update is one big missed opportunity. Recoil adjustments for Capitão and Jackal - the former an imperceivable buff, the latter a harsh nerf - fail to address the overarching problems that plague both operators: their gadgets just aren’t particularly useful. But rather than Jackal or Capitão being gifted a new lease of life, Ubisoft Montreal chose one of the most useful and balanced operators in the game.
It’s not that these changes are going to topple the game’s meta or break the game. However, with every major update the gulf between the game’s best and worst operators grows larger and minor tweaks to those stuck somewhere in the middle of that spectrum only exacerbates the issue. It also creates discontent among the community, who wait months for a meaningful shift to the meta only to find that it’s business as usual for all bar one operator. The worst operators in the game are still very much the worst operators in the game. IQ’s gadget is still totally useless, Smoke’s Remote Gas Grenades are more effective at killing teammates than enemies, Castle’s bulletproof barricades are risible, and Echo’s stun drone is too easily destroyed in crossfire.
Ubisoft Montreal have at least shown some recognition to the ongoing community campaign to get shield operator Blitz a buff, reducing the draw time on his weapon after triggering his Shield Flash. It’s the kind of adjustment that should have been given to Doc’s Stim Pistol, but it’s also worth noting that Blitz is still mired by a headshot hitbox that encompasses his enormous ear protectors and inconsistencies with his Shield Flash at mid-range.
In six weeks Rainbow Six Siege will be on the brink of receiving its next two operators, and the job of balancing the game’s meta will get even more complex. It might not matter now that this season’s highlight patch was lacking, but it will in three months time when the Hong Kong operators have arrived and Ubisoft Montreal have a brand new set of issues to overcome. We’ve already seen what can happen when new additions to the meta aren’t given proper aftercare: Blackbeard still hasn’t recovered from the kneejerk nerf he was given post-release. Hopefully, hotfixes and smaller patches will iron out some of the kinks with this update, but the major gadget upgrades that are needed to make the game’s weakest operators viable picks aren’t going to crop up without ceremony. That’s what these mid-season reinforcements are for, and that’s why this one feels like such a missed opportunity.
What do you make of the Velvet Shell mid-season reinforcements? Let us know in the comments below.