Rainbow Six Siege: Operation Steel Wave hands-on preview

Two new Operators are coming to Rainbow Six Siege, so Shacknews attends a House party for Operation Steel Wave.


Normally, Rainbow Six Siege updates are unveiled prior to the conclusion of a Rainbow Six Pro League Major. However, esports as everybody knows it is... in a bit of a holding pattern. But even with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact the esports world, Ubisoft Montreal is still looking to keep its planned Rainbow Six Siege content coming. So on Monday, Siege players got their first look at the upcoming Operation Steel Wave.

First teased by Ubisoft late last week, Operation Steel Wave will introduce two new Operators: an Attacker and a Defender. Prior to Monday's reveal, Shacknews had a chance to jump into Operation Steel Wave and its various additions. We met the Operators last week, but here's what they'll bring to the Ranibow Six table:

Rainbow Six Siege - Ace
  • Ace (Attacker): Norwegian EMT Ace doesn't look like the type to be an Operator on the surface. He's an impulsive braggart who does as much for his social media following than anything else. However, he stands among the best when it comes to bold and daring rescues. And he does so with his ability, S.E.L.M.A., a throwable explosive that sticks to most surfaces. If it's a breachable (and even reinforced) surface, like a wall, the S.E.L.M.A. will deploy a series of explosive rounds that roll downward and gradually blow up more and more of the area.
Rainbow Six Siege - Melusi
  • Melusi (Defender): Melusi has spent her adult life fighting for conservation efforts in her home of South Africa. But now she's moved from helping save the South African wildlife to working with the soldiers of Rainbow Six. She brings the Banshee Sonic Defense onto the battlefield, which acts as a proximity alarm of sorts. Plant the Banshee along almost any wall and a unique alarm will automatically blare whenever an Attacker gets within its range. Not only does it expose the enemy's location, but it will actively slow them. The closer they are to the Banshee, the slower they'll go.

Ace's AK12 assault rifle or M1014 shotgun makes him a strong vanilla character on his own. But his S.E.L.M.A. makes him an ideal teammate when trying to break through walls or ceilings. Ace is somebody the team uses when trying to change the strategy from busting through windows or hatches. In the case of the House map rework, Ace was somebody we used to break through the hefty garage door. And when he creates a path, he creates a big one. The S.E.L.M.A. will more often than not create a big enough hole for the entire team to run through. But do it quickly, because the S.E.L.M.A. explosions are noisy and will alert the enemy team. Consider using the S.E.L.M.A. as an elaborate distraction.

The problem with Ace's S.E.L.M.A. is that there's a fairly easy way to counter it. After a couple of hours of playing through House, the opposing team started to catch on to Ace's ability. So the Defenders employed Bandit and placed the CED-1 along the garagae door to electrify it. The electricity shorted out the S.E.L.M.A. and made it useless. So don't overuse Ace or his tactics and be sure to watch out for any Defenders with electrical capabilities.

Melusi is all about exposing enemy locations and slowing them down. First and foremost, learn the sound of the Banshee's unique warble. Come to recognize it, because it's how you'll know that an enemy is close by. And don't worry about that warble not lasting very long, because the Banshee is hard to take out. It's bulletproof, so it can only be taken out with melee blows or explosives.

While I didn't notice the Banshee making too much of a difference myself, my teammates certainly did. Whenever the Banshee would slow down an enemy, it would give teammates an opening to polish them off. The Banshee can be placed on just about any wall and they don't necessarily have to be hidden, either. Their whole purpose is to slow down whatever's in front of them, so put them on staircases or the like. Better yet, the Banshee stacks with Clash's speed reductions, so you can slow the opposition to a total crawl.

Rainbow Six Siege - House

This is not all for Operation Steel Wave. As noted, House is receiving a total rework. The new-look house has a whole new section on the south side with two rooms on each floor and a staircase connecting them. Ubisoft cheekily notes that the family living in the House has had a few new additions. That includes a new TV Room and Music Room, which can be used as bomb sites. As for the Garage area, only one of the doors is destructible, though that's something Attackers can get around with gadgets like Ace's S.E.L.M.A. explosives.

On top of the new Operators and stage rework, an existing Operator is getting revamped. Amaru was only added with August's Operation Ember Rose, but is already getting some significant changes. She'll now have smoother timing and hook animations, but the biggest change will be to her Garra Hook's interactions with windows. The Garra Hook will break windows, but any attached barricades will only break when Amaru goes through them herself. Players can totally control Amaru as she grapples towards windows, allowing for any last-second adjustments.

As for the rest of the cast, they'll notice a new secondary gadget. The Proximity Alarm is a new tool that can be hidden in most safe spots. If it goes off, simply converge on the alarm's location and prepare for battle.

And in regards to Rainbow Six Siege as a whole, players will soon see a major change to the game's Matchmaking Rating system. To prevent any abuses attached to region-switching, all MMRs are about to be unified. This will make it a greater challenge to hit that elusive Champions rank, since the Champions' leaderboard is now unified worldwide. Players will have to play a minimum of 100 matches and pass the 5,000 MMR marker to have a chance at the Champions' leaderboard.

Operation Steel Wave will mark the end of a tradition for Rainbow Six Siege. It will be the final update to roll out two new Operators. And Ubisoft looks to be going out on a high note, with more yet to come. The new match replay and ping system that were set to roll out with this update are being delayed slightly, but are still on course for later in the year. Ubisoft will offer more information on that in the weeks ahead.

Operation Steel Wave is set to hit the Rainbow Six Siege Test Server on PC today. It's coming soon to the full Rainbow Six Siege game, though with the current state of the world, Ubisoft has acknowledged that the Test Server will need about an extra week in order for the developers to squash any bugs or make any balance adjustments.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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