Operation Ember Rise is now live on the Rainbow Six Siege Test Server (TS) and this season looks to be a vast improvement over the lukewarmly-received Operation Phantom Sight.
Utility shifts, a new game mode, a great map rework, and some interesting operator abilities make this upcoming season of Siege one of the more refreshing ones in recent history.
To address the elephant in the room, there are no new guns in Operation Ember Rise. The lack of fresh loadouts is the new norm for Siege but it doesn’t feel as detrimental as it did in Operation Phantom Sight. This can probably be attributed to the loadouts being comprised of weapons that are generally more fun to use.
The FMG9 and MPX were regarded as weak weapon choices for the Phantom Sight ops, and Ember Rise seems to have remedied that issue this time around. The Supernova shotgun actually feels good with the new attacker, Amaru, and the Vector ACP.45 is well suited for Goyo. As long as Ubisoft continues to choose strong loadouts to recycle, then there shouldn’t be too much of an issue going forward.
Operator abilities are extremely fun to use. Amaru’s Garra Hook allows players to get onsite fast and will probably aid in a lot of ninja defuser plants at mid-levels of gameplay. The hook does make Amaru players completely vulnerable for the slightest window of time when she’s entering a window or hatch. This is perhaps her biggest downfall as an operator.
Goyo’s Volcán Shields are simple to use but a bit harder to capitalize on consistently. The usefulness of Goyo’s shields is going to come down to placement and specific situations. Similar to if a defender fails to hold a Mira window, if a defender fails to watch a Volcán Shield, that shield will be exploited by an attacker. This is most likely in a post-plant scenario where attackers plant the defuser next to a Volcán Shield and wait to trigger the shield as a defender attempts to defuse. Other than that, when used effectively, the shields can work nicely as an added layer of entry denial.
Kanal map rework
The new Kanal rework is another strong addition to Ember Rise. The devs have addressed a lot of the issues that pervaded the map before the rework. Boat room is now a more comfortable site to attack, although it’s still tough to attack it head-on. Coastguard is much easier to defend thanks to some absent windows and the map has a better flow to it overall. Extra stairwells and entry points aid in providing more options for ingress.
Developers have gone to great lengths to prevent spawn peeking but there are still some clear opportunities for defenders to capitalize on, especially downstairs. The addition of a giant half wall on the balcony prevents defenders from gaining the same easy access to the Sailboat spawn, which is greatly appreciated.
The aesthetic here is a huge departure from the original map, with the interior maintaining more-or-less the same layout but looking stylistically different. A sterile tone took over the map and it’s reminiscent of Tower’s cold interior design. It’s not for everybody, but the rework leaves the map in a seemingly better place than it was in previously.
Shield nerf, Deployable Shields, Glaz, and Dok
Three of the most noticeable changes to Ember Rise are the nerf to the ADS time of shield operators, Deployable Shields, and the addition of Frag Grenades to Glaz and Dok’s loadouts. The increase in the time it takes to aim down sights as a shield operator creates a large window for defenders to be able to get a headshot off. It’s a huge nerf to shield ops but provides an easier way for defenders to deal with a shield. We’re not sure if that’s the way to fix shields but at least players are getting another band-aid.
Ember Rise will see the implementation of the long-awaited Deployable Shield V2. The shield now has small bulletproof windows in it that can be used to gather intel and should be especially helpful to anchors in late-round scenarios. Deployable Shields will also now fully attach themselves to a doorway so there are no spaces for attackers to shoot through. Overall, it’s a welcome set of changes to a previously so-so gadget.
This season will also grant Glaz and Dokkaebi access to Frag Grenades, which is odd but fun in some scenarios. With Glaz, the change here seems odd. Smokes are integral to his thermal scope’s usefulness and choosing Frags over Smokes just seems to go against the operator’s ability. Using Frags as Glaz feels awkward and the timing never seems to match up correctly when using the op. We’re sure someone out there can make it work, but it wasn’t for us.
For Dok, the Frag Grenades feel a bit more at home since ditching Smokes for Frags doesn’t directly inhibit the usefulness of her gadget. We still pulled off plenty of unhindered Logic Bombs and capitalized on them with the help of the newly-added Frags. It’s a comfortable change that really helps make Dok a more appealing choice for players.
Fans have finally been given a new game mode called Unranked. The mode features the entire ruleset of Ranked but with none of the stakes. It’s definitely not Casual but it’s definitely not Ranked, which leaves it in a bit of a Goldilocks position. Unranked feels just right and is a better way for people to get acquainted with how Siege is actually meant to be played.
Unranked might be a huge selling point for Siege going forward but it may split the player base a bit and create longer queue times. There are still a lot of people who enjoy goofing around in Casual, and that’s great, but it does mean that the wait to find a match may be a bit longer than it has been in the past.
Operation Ember Rise looks like a giant step forward for Siege. While the season may introduce some huge changes, it seems like the game is in an overall better place than it was during the Operation Phantom Sight TS period.
The TS is live right now with intermittent downtime for maintenance. Fans are encouraged to provide Ubisoft with feedback based on their time with the TS changes.