Last week Ubisoft released Operation Velvet Shell, the first update for Rainbow Six Siege Year 2 for players who purchased the Year 2 season pass. For everyone else, the two new characters that come with the first Siege DLC of 2017 became available this week for purchase using in-game credits.
Velvet Shell, like the four DLC releases of 2016, also comes with a single new map and a game update that represents what of the more significant patches for the Tom Clancy tactical shooter. The game's interface has been redesigned and various improvements and bug fixes were included as well.
The beginning of Rainbow Six Siege's second year marks not only a new foundation for the game and its eSports appeal to grow - something the game has been doing remarkably as it continues to become increasingly popular - but the Operation Velvet Shell DLC is the most game-changing addition yet. The redesigned interface is one thing, but the two new Spanish Counter Terrorist Unit operators - Mira and Jackal - drastically change the way the game is played.
In Operation Velvet Shell, players will be plunged into an effervescent night ambiance on the seashore of Ibiza. While embodying two Spanish operators from the Grupo Especial de Operaciones, the Rainbow team will regain control of the coastline thanks to their unique tactical expertise:
- Mira has proven her strength and endurance but her best asset is her knowledge in mechanics. She is specialized in armoring process for ballistic protection. Equipped with the Vector 45 ACP and ITA12L as primary weapons, she can find the weaker spot on any machinery and reinforce it.
- Jackal has developed his expertise in tracking down HVTs and intercepting narcotics shipments with the G.E.O.s. Equipped with the C7E and PDW9 as primary weapons, he triggered an acute sensitivity relating to his environment, which enables him to spot irregularities rapidly.
Arguably the most gameplay-altering DLC characters yet, Velvet Shell’s new operators change the game for the defenders and attackers in a big way. The defenders get a character who gives their team a way to observe and gun down lanes towards the objective, where the attackers have a way to hunt down pesky roamers. These abilities, depending on the map and objective location, significantly alter team make-ups and strategies.
Their abilities are powerful, and more useful than those of most other operators in most situations. The downside is that some operators are becoming less useful, or entirely obsolete (looking at you, Spetsnaz operators). Even the reinforced wall crushing Thermite has become unpopular since the update went live. Given Mira and Jackal's powerful gadgets and weapon options (Mira the fastest rate of fire SMG in the game and they both have unique secondary shotguns), expect them to be "nerfed" relatively soon.
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Ubisoft has a tendency to introduce new, overpowered characters which throw off the balance and this is another example of that. Blackbeard's over-powered shield, Valkyrie's extra cameras, and Caveira's super pistol were all nerfed in updates after they were introduced as post-launch operators.
While they're here though, the community seems to have embraced them and most matches will see them used. We've been testing daily on the PC and Xbox One version of the game, and Rainbow Six Siege has never been better, frequent server and matchmaking issue aside.
As more and more operators continue to be added however, more of the characters find themselves rarely being used, and we're still waiting for the game to introduce a new mode beyond the three five vs. five modes that have been there since launch. Perhaps there are opportunities for larger player counts, or new co-op modes that give underused operators more to do.