After six years worth of quarterly major updates, Rainbow Six: Siege has changed a lot since its original release. Given the long lifespan of the game, Siege can be understandably overwhelming. Yet Operation High Calibre feels different. After a hands-on preview, I walked away with a sense that the Year 6 Season 4 update will be the perfect time for new and returning players (like myself) to become better acquainted with the game.
Before I get into why the reworked content feels so refreshing and welcoming, let’s talk about the shiny new operator. Operation High Calibre introduces us to Thorn; an Irish Defender equipped with the deadly Razorbloom Shell.
The Razorbloom Shell is a proximity trap that can stick to any surface and will detonate on detecting an enemy; sending sharp, lethal blades flying in all directions. There is a short delay prior to detonation, giving quick thinking Attackers an opportunity to respond. To complement the Razorbloom, Thorn is outfitted with the deployable shield and barbed wire gadgets to provide some extra sneaky hiding spots for the lethal ability. In addition, Thorn’s primary weapon is an SMG making it’s Siege debut.
Getting to try out Thorn during the hands-on preview, I could tell she had the type of playstyle I really enjoy in Siege. Thorn’s three Razorbloom Shells and hard hitting, limited recoil SMG make her a mobile and deadly opponent, allowing you to play reservedly or reactionary depending on how you want to approach any given scenario. It’s a playstyle that feels like a more lethal Lesion or a sneakier Kapkan which makes her a worthy addition to the Defender roster. Plus, the Razorbloom has the potential to synergise well with other operator abilities like Melusi’s Banshee device and the idea of getting to experiment with that really excites me.
High Calibre comes with a slew of interesting updates to existing content with the headlining change this season being a rework to the Outback map. From an Attacker’s perspective, Outback was a clunky map that just wasn’t a lot of fun to play on. This update rectifies that, making it approachable for the Attack to start up a fair fight for the objective. This is thanks to many of the rooms receiving complete overhauls to feature additional soft exterior walls and more open interior layouts, making for a much more comfortable experience.
Out of the new additions and changes, what stood out the most to me was the HUD redesign. The new look feels fresh, clean and functional in a way that surprised me. The screen feels much less cluttered while providing more detail than before.
The most prominent features on the new-look HUD are the ability to see the ammo available for all of your guns without having to swap between them and the new tiered design of the compass. Indicators have been added to display whether marked pings are above, below or on the same floor as you. The larger size and brighter colouring of the compass made it easy to check during tense moments for someone like me who is typically terrible with finding her way around a map. The changes will take some getting used to, but they are changes that felt natural to a semi-casual player, so the benefit will be greater felt.
Accompanying the fresh look HUD are some nice updates to the operator select screen. I am typically hopeless at remembering to change my gadget or weapon loadouts, but the large new look of the screen better communicates that modifying your loadout for a match is definitely a thing you should be doing.
Topping off the UI changes are an update to the default team colours. The blue and orange colours have now changed to blue and red to improve the experience for colour blind users and the onboarding of new players. This is a nice change with further improvements planned which I look forward to seeing in future patches.
One fun little extra in High Calibre is the option to customise your operator card which displays for other users when loading into a match, spectating teammates or as part of your kill cam. The small touch of personalisation this offers is a welcome addition, if a small one, that adds nicely to the more robust weapon and armour cosmetic customisation currently available.
As is the case with any patch, there are some notable buffs and nerfs incoming. Finka can now self-revive using her Adrenal Surge ability, Echo and Mozzie drones now last longer outside, Defender cameras now only last 10 seconds outside and Bulletproof Cameras can now fire EMP bursts. Whilst I didn’t get much of a chance to see how these feel during the preview, they could have some interesting uses that change up the general pace of a match.
I had a lot of fun during the High Calibre preview and I can’t wait to jump back in and see the full update in action when the season goes live. The HUD redesign and versatile new operator make this a great time to see what all the fuss over Rainbow Six: Siege is about whether you are a new or returning player. It’s been a while since an update has compelled me to come back and sink my teeth into Siege, so that alone gives me a good feeling of what’s to come over the next few months. We don’t have long to wait now, so regardless of what you think about the changes, Operation High Calibre is set to make an impact.