Rainbow Six Siege's New Firing Range, Squad System, And Operator Are Great For Newcomers

If you've yet to try Rainbow Six Siege--or have and subsequently fell off--Year 7, Season 2 presents an ideal on-ramp to give the game a go.

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Rainbow Six Siege Year 7, Season 2: Vector Glare has plenty to be excited about for existing fans, but I think it will be even more thrilling for players who haven't played Siege in a while or have yet to try the game at all. It's currently an ideal moment to get back into the game as well--Siege's Year 7 is a definitive narrative shift for the multiplayer tactical shooter, intriguingly refocusing on the fact that its operators are meant to be specialist soldiers, not professional athletes.

Y7S2 finally adds the shooting range that fans have been clamoring for, offering an opportunity for players to test out how different attachments affect the recoil, precision, and noise of any gun. You can even switch between a traditional target that tracks a firearm's bullet pattern and a practice dummy that tests a weapon's effectiveness when trying to hit specific points on an enemy operator's body.

Sens is the latest operator to come to Siege, joining the game at the start of Vector Glare.
Sens is the latest operator to come to Siege, joining the game at the start of Vector Glare.

For someone like me--a Siege player who sometimes goes months between sessions and has difficulty keeping track of every single adjustment made to the game--the shooting range is a blessing. Siege now rocks over 100 different firearms, so keeping track of how one compares to all the others can get tricky. The shooting range is also just a great way of getting in a few practice shots before a match to ensure my skills are still sharp.

"It's also a way for us to showcase content that is already in the game [for existing players]," Siege game designer Mathieu Lacombe told me. "We have so many weapons. How do you differentiate them from one another? The shooting range is a great way to do so because sometimes you play a round, and then you play another round and you're like, 'Oh yeah, the recoil of this one, I feel it, but I don't think about it.' If you compare them in the same 30 seconds, however, you'll get a better grasp. Like, 'Oh yeah. This one kicks a lot. This one doesn't.'"

The new season also further divides the roster of operators into individual squads. Primarily, this new feature reflects Siege's renewed focus on storytelling, showcasing the alliances that are forming among the operators, and getting new or lapsed players up to speed on why not every playable character is getting along with each other.

"For us, this is a way to start giving more of a chance to our old cast of characters to come back in meaningful ways," Siege creative director Alexander Karpazis told me. "We have over 60 characters in the game. And so trying to tell stories with just a random floating 60 characters is actually really hard to do. So splitting them into squads where they're like the houses in Harry Potter gives you a sense of who they are right away."

Ever since Rainbow started utilizing operators from Nighthaven, things have been heated.
Ever since Rainbow started utilizing operators from Nighthaven, things have been heated.

There are only two squads to start: Nighthaven and Wolfguard. Nighthaven is led by Kali and features operators who belong to her private military company or utilize exceptionally advanced high-tech gadgetry. Wolfguard, meanwhile, is headed by Doc and features operators with a background in search and rescue or medicine, or have gadgets for healing or aiding fellow operators.

"We plan on releasing and announcing even more squads throughout the year," Karpazis said. "This just gives us a bit of a narrative vehicle to tell a story that has a bit of meaning from every single character in our game that can kind of leverage that."

The new squads have a gameplay ramification as well. "[The squads] are mostly for the narrative, but we did make sure that when we created the squads, there were viable teams within them that you could pick," Lacombe said. "And, going ahead, we'll push this further, that the teams that we propose, they should make sense. If I want to play with four buddies and we play a squad, we could pick all of the operators from the same squad and our team would be viable."

I think this is a great system. At least on paper anyway--the true test of whether these squads actually present a way to curate balanced teams will be when Y7S2 launches and players can put it through its paces. But just quickly glancing at the rosters for Nighthaven and Wolfguard, they seem to be good blueprints for the basis of an ideal squad.

Y7S2's new operator, Sens, is a member of one of these squads, so newcomers will know immediately which operators are good choices for pairing with the new face. Siege's first non-binary playable character, Sens joins Wolfguard at the start of the season as an Attacker, utilizing their incredibly dope gadget as a means of blocking enemy sightlines or distracting a team, making them great at rescuing downed allies, coming to the aid of squadmates who are pinned down, or ambushing an entrenched squad.

Sens' gadget is a delightful little ball of high-tech wizardry that they can roll across the floor to create a wall of (incredibly distracting) brilliant blueish green light. And since it can ricochet off surfaces, a skilled pool player (or just anyone half decent at geometry) can block multiple sightlines across an entire room with one carefully placed roll. It's worth noting that this cover is purely sensory--players (including Sens and their allies) can't see through it, but anyone can shoot or walk through it, no problem. The only exceptions to this rule are Glaz and Warden, who both can see through the wall with the use of their respective gadgets.

"[Sens] is definitely not a counter to a specific playstyle, but can help enable something that we saw in the past, which is being really strategic about your line of sight," Karpazis said. "Whether you throw down a smoke or something and then you would have a Glaz on your team, and Glaz would be able to work with that while the team around you would execute on another front. That has died off and Sens breathes a bit more fresh air into that kind of strategy where now you can definitely take a Glaz along with you, run into a field with Sens and then start doing some interesting plays around that. And it also gives more value to Defenders like Warden, where he can actually see through Sens' squall. And so he's not as much a niche pick now. He has a little bit more purpose in a lineup."

I enjoyed the brief period of time I got to play as Sens. Similar to Y7S1's operator, Azami, Sens is able to transform the battlefield in interesting ways, disrupting even the most carefully laid plans by creating a wall wherever. Most operators' gadgets are placed or fired and that's it--you either walk away from them and they do their thing, or it's a one-and-done use. But Azami and Sens utilize gadgets with an impact that's both immediate and lasts a few seconds, ensuring they can be felt by multiple members of both teams--both operators have introduced the consideration that any sightline you've been able to depend upon for years can now be suddenly yanked away from you at any time. That can wreck any sort of strategy.

Sens' addition, like Azami, should help shake up strategies that have been long established in Siege, promoting more opportunities where the winning team is composed of those who are better at thinking on their feet and adapting to an evolving situation, not whichever side just has more experienced players. This isn't to say that I think Year 6's operators were bad, but when it comes to Siege, Year 7's operators are (so far) the type I'd like to see more of.

"I think Year 7 will have some creative gadgets that allow players to express themself a lot more," Lacombe teased.

Overall, there's plenty to look forward to in regards to Siege Y7S2. And though long-time Siege players will likely enjoy the new shooting range and Sens, I think these additions present an even more ideal draw for new and lapsed players. Year 7 is quickly shaping up to be a great year for Siege, with a strong-looking Season 2 following a great Season 1. Still no sign of those in-game quips I desperately want to hear, but there's plenty else to keep folks occupied in the meantime.

Rainbow Six Siege Year 7, Season 2 is set to launch in June.

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