Oregon: A Comprehensive Look

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A peek behind the curtain on Oregon's inner workings

On June 6th, the ESL Rainbow Six Twitter account announced that Oregon would be removed from the Pro League map pool and replaced by Kafe. For those who are unfamiliar with the discussion surrounding Oregon as a map and the playstyle it encourages, this removal may come as a surprise. However, this removal is not only for the better of the game, but I aim to predict, if not simply suggest, badly needed changes made to Oregon.

Before one can suggest a cure, one must diagnose the symptoms. The two most picked sites on defence are sites that are hard to be surprised on while defending. The basement’s entry points are limited to the tower stairs, the main stairs, the hatches, and the construction tunnel. The hatches and the tower stairs can be held from inside the tower and Meeting Hall Attic with appropriate rotation holes. The main stairs and the construction tunnel can be covered from the site, with the upstairs team flanking the attackers when needed.

The attackers can attack the tower fairly easily as the environment is disadvantageous to the defenders, and the North windows provide ample cover for the attackers as it is nigh impossible to see rappelling hostiles from inside the building on that side. The main hatch is hard to keep closed when a Thatcher is brought, and the main stairs can be attacked from Armory Hall through the soft floor, allowing consistent, predictable site takes.

The upstairs room callouts on Oregon

Kids’ Dorms and Generator is a different tale in some ways. While Generator holds a host of options to enter and hold the site, Kids’ does not. A standard upstairs take requires securing the rotation hole through the attic, cutting off flank access on Armory Stairs and White Stairs, and eventually taking Generator through the master bedroom wall.

Kids’ is harder to take, as the only entry through the site is either from the one door/wall combination or from the outside windows which require a rappel breach. While Generator requires holding multiple angles and a more coordinated attack effort, the specific angles, operators, and strategies are very consistent between attacking teams, defending strategies, and other variables.

The remaining two sites are unfavourable to the defenders, to say the least. Kitchen/Dining Hall offers plenty of cover inside Kitchen for the defenders, but controlling Dining Hall is difficult from on site, in Kitchen, or both. A full wall covers the default plant spot, which can be accessed easily with a hard breach in Small Tower and an attacker on the exterior Dining Hall door to destroy gadgets and prevent Bandit tricking. With the showers also being accessible from the outside, the attackers have many routes to cut off the defender’s access to the site. When Dorms and Basement are locked, however, your only other option, if you want to veto the indefensible Dining Hall, is Tower.

The site pick rates on Oregon during the first half of Season 9

Tower hosts many windows for the attackers to rappel on and hold. While rappelling hot into the site from the windows is tantamount to suicide, the lines of sight the vantage points offer are invaluable. While three of the tower sides can be seen from inside the main part of Oregon, allowing the defenders to defend the site from a distance and pick off rappelling targets with well-placed shots, the North side of tower rarely affords such opportunities. The tower itself has three levels, with a basement level underneath to make it virtually four. The attackers can attack any level from a multitude of directions, and the highest level of the tower is only reachable by the defenders by a very exposed ladder.

Oregon’s state should be apparent. The only options available to teams are predictable, stale sites that are statistically balanced but offer nothing new, or to pick more dynamic sites that inarguably favor the attacking team. It is indisputable that Oregon should undergo a map buff similar to that of the recent Kafe Dostoyevsky buff and the upcoming Kanal and Theme Park buffs. While the map should remain largely the same in theme and be still familiar to experienced players, it should be changed to allow greater attacking options and to add appropriate counters.

First,  I propose a service staircase be added to the West side of the basement in the spot called “Basement Corridor”. The staircase would extend upwards, connecting to Kitchen cupboard (not Meeting Hall) and Kids Bedroom.

Basement Corridor

Kitchen Cupboard

This staircase serves multiple purposes. First, the staircase would allow the attackers to gain a foothold inside of Basement more easily, as it would be hard to defend from the basement site and could be accessed early by the attackers taking Kitchen or Kids’ Bedroom. To compensate, the basement sites would be better suited to defend from this point of attack. The West-facing walls of the basement sites would be changed to allow them to be reinforced, and the door from Basement Corridor into Supply would be replaced with a soft wall. A door would be placed on the laundry soft wall that is usually impacted, allowing players a set rotation that wouldn’t bring them near the newly added stairs, maintaining defender freedom.

On Kitchen/Dining Hall defences, this would allow the attackers to have a better chance to take Kitchen. Additionally, the solid wall between Meeting Hall and Kitchen (not the soft wall) would be turned soft to allow additional sight lines into Kitchen. Next, Dining Hall would be made more defensible. First, the door from Kitchen into Dining Hall would be moved from the South to the North. The door would be situated where the soft wall begins on the North side, and everything South of it would be soft.

The reason for this is because currently, the line of sight between the kitchen door and Tower is broken by a solid full wall. This wall causes Dining Hall to be significantly less defensible, as the defenders held up in Kitchen cannot see the plant go down, or the attackers entering the site. However, the solid wall should be made a half wall: still offering cover during the plant from gunfire but allowing easier access to the defuser for plant denial gadgets and allowing the defenders to better keep track of enemy positions inside the site. However, this does result in the below sightline, regardless of where the door is located because the wall blocking line of sight would no longer do so.

I propose that the small tower window on the first floor West side be moved to the first floor North side, still allowing the attackers to take control of Small Tower without allowing the powerful long angle. As a result, since the walls South of the Kitchen/Dining Hall door would be soft, the defenders could make additional rotate holes, if they wished, to enter the site without fear of the tower window denying the rotate, but still facing adversity from Small Tower itself without the full wall protecting them.

The Kitchen/Dining door that would now be on the North side is there to allow the defenders better sightlines onto the site and to no longer allow the attackers to see the rotate from the exterior Dining Hall door, allowing more defender freedom in moving between sites. A welcome side effect of this change as well is that the defenders in Kitchen can have more of an angle on default plant spot behind the now half wall from the Kitchen/Dining door.

To add further depth to this site, I suggest a second floor be added above Dining Hall specifically.

Using the screenshot below as a reference, I say that a second floor should be added in place of the raised section of the roof. The sightline between the second floor of the small tower window and the big window in dorms would remain, but an indoor rotation between the kids’ dorms and Small Tower would be added. The point in keeping the outside sightline intact would be to maintain the delicate balance of the main window into Dorms. Because the window has so much visual coverage over the Bedroom/Dorms site, it needs to have a drawback that balances it. That drawback currently is that Small Tower has a window that can shoot an attacker holding the main window in the back. By maintaining this sightline, I preserve the drawbacks of the angle, keeping it balanced.

Additionally, the second floor would add a hatch between the first and second floors above the default plant spot behind half-wall in Dining Hall, adding a critical spot for teams to play for off-site. By allowing another contestable angle onto the site, variety increases in the play styles of the defenders and attackers by allowing each team to individually decide how many resources to dedicate to each possibility, and allowing the defenders to adapt easier to compensate for more sightlines but not more utility or manpower to hold them.

This also has the added benefit of making Kids’ Bedroom attackable from another side, encouraging variety yet again in a similar way. By allowing Kids’ Bedroom to be attacked from another angle, the defenders now have a viable reason to spend more resources defending it over Generator. The second floor’s purpose on the dining hall site would be to allow the defenders to defend site from above during the early round, but allowing the attackers easy access to this spot requires a defending team to dedicate utility and manpower to hold it if they wish to do so, which they don’t necessarily have to.

In regards to Tower, the variety already exists for the attackers to decide how they wish to attack the site, which is good. However, the defenders are unable to respond to the threats as they come up and do not have enough utility or manpower to effectively cover all possible strategies. To compensate, the ladder leading from the second floor (T2) to the third floor (T3) should be replaced with another staircase. Additionally, as mentioned, the defenders have opportunities to defend tower off-site by shooting rappelling attackers. However, on the North side, such opportunities for counterplay do not exist. I suggest that the North Tower windows be removed, not moved, as the number of windows on Tower is already more than the defence can handle.

If one does not understand or agree with my stance on the tactical use of utility and lines of sight to create opportunities, or the balance of attacker and defender adaptability, my changes may seem strange or unfounded, so allow me to explain. Siege is not a corridor shooter. Siege was designed from the ground up to allow the attackers and defenders variety with the introduction of small scale destruction and limited defender reinforcement. When placed into a corridor with only one option, mechanical skill really is the only thing that makes the difference between a win and a loss.

Optimal strategies, or meta, can be easily found as there are no variables to account for and utility can be reliably and predictably spent. This leads to the same match over and over again, like Oregon but on a smaller, hyperbolic scale. By allowing more options, tactics and strategy find their way into the mix. When the defenders are given more angles to watch, more paths to guard, there leaves more room for error and opportunity.

Siege is at its best when it hits a genius balance of opportunity for both teams. By allowing more crucial points than any team has players, the defenders are not able to effectively defend every access point and the attackers are not able to hold every flank. This alleviates some of the importance held by mechanical skill and redistributes it to tactical understanding, strategic preparation, and teamwork. The attackers cannot hope to hold every flank, so instead, they must decide on and commit to a strategy that uses some paths or utility over others and work together to ensure its success. The defenders cannot hope to account for every strategy the attackers can employ, so they must communicate to actively recon the area and respond to the attacker threats wherever they may arise.

The best weapon the attackers have is unpredictability to surprise and outmanoeuvre the defenders, which is why I emphasize variety in my map changes. The best weapon the defenders have is adaptability, which is the reason for my emphasis on defender freedom to move inside and defend their own sites, allowing them to combat hostiles wherever and whenever they arise.

There is enough merit to the argument that the current balance of Oregon is even enough not to warrant a change to acknowledge it here. Statistically, the map is level and even more experienced and highly regarded teams can be subject to upsets due to both teams really having no ability to accomplish their goals. The maps may be boring for casters, players, and spectators alike, but the best team should be the one that wins if it’s so even.  

I, naturally, am against this argument. First, there is no reason to think that the map won’t be similarly balanced after my suggested changes have been subject to feedback and suggestions from professional players and analysts. Additionally, these changes may not affect the win percentage of any one side, but they allow the map to be more aligned with the design intent and creative vision of the Siege team. By allowing more variety, adaptability, tactical opportunities, and teamwork, Oregon would fall closer to the mark of creating an engaging, cerebral shooter.

Oregon was the sore thumb, the black sheep, the ugly duckling of the Pro League map pool. Now, it seems the team in charge of the decision took their cue and removed it so that it assumedly can undergo much-needed changes. What exactly those changes ultimately turn out to be is as much your guess as it is mine, but I hope that Ubisoft extends their great work on Kafe Dostoyevsky to Oregon and the other buffed maps.