“This is an opportunity to take a look at where Siege has been and where it’s going, and making sure that everything that we do in and outside of the game matches that,” says Rainbow Six Siege’s Art Director, Alexander Karpazis, while talking to IGN ahead of the Year 6 reveal.“This is a modernization of what you see in the game,” he says. “It matches the tone that we have with our new operators and seasons. It makes sure that it speaks to what you feel when you play the game, and what you see when you see our characters.”
As for those characters, the latest addition to the roster is Flores, a master criminal from Argentina. Outfitted in a civilian jacket, soft cap, and Daredevil-style red tinted glasses, he’s a far cry from the tacticool designs most of Siege’s operators sport.
“With Flores, we wanted to investigate an archetype we haven’t done before, and the idea of a master thief came up,” explains Karpazis. “We wanted his remote control explosive to have a DIY, Raspberry Pi feel to it, and that made it really fun. However, we always try to balance the idea that he will be featured in combat, and he has to know how to hold a weapon. If the character isn’t coming from a more traditional military background, still making it seem like they fit in the world, and that they’re grounded with all the other characters that we have.”
While Flores does indicate that Ubisoft is now more than happy to explore beyond traditional counter-terrorism agencies for its operators, Karpazis is keen to dispel any idea that classic millitary designs are being left behind in favour of a more ‘hero shooter’ aesthetics.
“Without spoiling anything that’s coming later on in the year, we still have a ton of options when it comes to more traditional military garb,” he says. “We’re not running out of reference, there’s a huge world of reference out there for us. It’s going to be more about how we balance it and make it feel fresh from season to season, and what does that cadence look like.”
It’s not just Ubisoft’s operator designs that are experimenting with the once sacred Tom Clancy formula. Historically in a Tom Clancy game death is the ultimate game over, but Siege plans to challenge this in Year 6.
“We’re looking at activities after death, so that players can still be engaged and still have a role to play after they’ve been eliminated,” explains Karpazis. In the Support Phase of a match, dead players will still have access to defender gadgets and attacker drones, allowing them to better support their team mates and even interact with the action itself. Siege’s Game Director, Jean-Baptiste Hallé, has admitted that during the Support Phase he checks Twitter and YouTube, and so this is a gameplay adjustment to ensure players still have a game to play even when they’ve been killed. It’s a sacrifice of ‘realism’ in favour of creating a better game. But, as Karpazis notes, Siege still has tactical play at heart.
“This is where real life tactics and in-game tactics merge,” he says. “We want players to still be invested in a round even after they’re eliminated. They can still contribute a lot and they don’t have to sit on a drone cam that was accidentally left pointing into a corner of a room. Having that kind of investment maintained through the duration of an entire match was something that was really important for us. It is a big shakeup, but it’s something that we think is important to make sure that the intensity of the game and the fun factor is there.”Changes are being made to the Preparation Phase, too. Attacking players will be able to change what operator they’re playing as, rather than being stuck with the character they chose when the round started. For example, if someone playing as Thatcher discovers that the defenders are not using electronics, they can change to a more useful operator before the Action Phase starts.
“It actually answers to the idea of being tactical in the real world,” says Karpazis of this change. “If you were to deploy to a situation, you would have intel and you would bring your gadgets and your gear to deal with that specific situation.”
The evolution of Rainbow Six Siege may have taken it along a road leading away from the likes of Raven Shield and Rogue Spear, but Karpazis and the team at Ubisoft Montreal remain thankful for Siege’s origins.
“The original key art did an amazing job and we still love it to this day, because it really spoke to breaching asymmetry,” says Karpazis of the old image of Blitz bursting through a drywall. “We’ll always be thankful for it, and we have immense love for it. It informed some of the decisions we did with our new key art, where we have that asymmetry, attackers versus defenders. But this [new art] is speaking to where the game has moved on to. Whereas before it was more focused on CTUs as being the identity for our operators, now each operator we release has its own unique identity. They are creative, they have their own look, and we want to celebrate that.”
For more on Rainbow Six Siege’s evolution, check out all the changes coming in Year 6 and Operation Crimson Heist.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer.