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Operation Steel Wave Reveal: Two New Ops, Proximity Mines, Ranked and Balance Changes

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Here's everything revealed about the upcoming free update, Operation Steel Wave, due to release next month.

Ahead of its launch on the Test Server tomorrow, here's everything revealed about the new season of Rainbow Six -- Operation Steel Wave.

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New Attacker - Ace

Firstly, we have Håvard "Ace" Haugland, a Norwegian member of the Nighthaven mercenary group run by Kali. This two speed, two armour operator acts as R6's fourth hard breacher as his SELMA gadget is a "sequentially exploding hard breach" charge which he can throw onto reinforced walls. However, if thrown on a surface that is non-explosive, the gadget will not detonate and will be retrievable.

Each SELMA charge thrown on a reinforced then explodes in three stages, with each stage located below the previous and each hole being approximately the same size as one set of Hibana X-KAIROS pellets, to create a full-body sized hole in totality. An unreinforced hatch can also be opened with one SELMA charge, but two charges are necessary for reinforced ones.

This gadget, of which he has three of, also can be used to as soft destruction on unreinforced walls, or to destroy gadgets such as Goyo shields and Maestro Evil Eyes that are in the vicinity of the extensible explosive arms of each SELMA charge. However, outside of destroying defender gadgets, the explosives do no damage to operators themselves.

The gadgets themselves can be stopped from deploying by destroying the canisters with all of the usual hard breach denial used to counter Thermite and Hibana -- Bandit Batteries, Kaid Electroclaws, Mute Jammers, hacked Twitch drones, or by simply shooting the canisters off of a wall (including Evil Eye tasers) -- and can be interrupted by both Wamai and Jager while being thrown. Electrifying or shooting the extensible arms will not destroy the gadget, however.

However, due to the lack of a cooldown on his throwable, a Bandit trick attempt cannot successfully deny the opening of at least one single X-KAIROS set sized hole if Ace throws a charge each on two walls alongside each other. A properly timed Kaid electroclaw would thus be the only viable option in most scenarios.

What's more, unlike Hibana, Thermite, or Maverick, Ace can deploy his charges through drone holes or throw them in between the metal bars in destructible floors from above, thus allowing him to breach far more safely than any operator so far.

Concerning the loadout, he comes with a choice of the AK-12 Assault Rifle (used by Fuze) or the M1014 Shotgun (used by Thermite, Castle, and Pulse) for his primary, the P9 Handgun (used by the GIGN) for his secondary weapon, and a choice of either Smoke Grenades or Breaching Charges as his secondary gadget, giving him an opportunity to bring a second form of soft breach. 

New Defender - Melusi

Next up is the new defender of Tentevwe "Melusi" Ilovu who represents the South African National Defence Force (SADF) and is R6's first three-speed Defender to be introduced since Alibi during Operation Para Bellum two years ago. Her three "Banshee Sonic Defense" gadgets are localised disruptors, which create a loud "buzzing" as a sound cue when attackers get within 6 meters of it and also have a line of sight to the gadget.

As well as this, it also slows down the affected attacker as if they were in Barbed Wire, making it a strong counter to entry fraggers, though the effect is less pronounced when a Finka boost is active. Of note is that the aim is unaffected, unlike an Ela Grzmot mine.

Both effects also are triggered by Nøkk, but not by the Iana hologram, and also work through a destroyed floor or a hatch.

The gadget can be disabled with Thatcher's EMP Grenade or a Shock Drone, and destroyed by both meleeing it -- which will be hard, with it slowing you down in the process -- or by targeting it with any explosive, such as an Ash or Zofia charge, grenades, or Kali's Explosive Lance. Alternatively, if the gadget has been placed on a soft wall or floor, it can be destroyed from its mounting point through the wall or floor.

The gadget itself is rather large, must be mounted similar to an Evil Eye and only affects operators within a line of sight, meaning it cannot be hidden in a site and should be easily spotted with some drone work. The effects are singular, meaning that the slowing and auditory effects of multiple Banshees is not added together, but they are negated if placed behind a deployable shield despite a line of sight through the bulletproof slits.

Furthermore, the duration of the effects is non-finite, requiring destruction of the gadget for its effects to cease, and the effects affect all attackers in range of the Banshee instead of targeting just one attacker.

As well as this gadget, Melusi also brings with her either the T-5 SMG Submachine Gun (used by Lesion) or the Super 90 Shotgun (used by Frost) for her primary, the RG15 Pistol (used by Ela and Zofia) as her secondary, and the secondary gadget options of Impact Grenades or a Deployable Shield.

Reworked Map - House

Designed to be a "casual rework" without esports or likely even Ranked play in mind, the new-look House removes a lot of the clutter and adds a new stairway, four new rooms, and increased destruction throughout the map.

These new rooms all come on the south side of the house with two upstairs and two on the ground floor. On the first floor is the Music Room and TV Room below where the old Kids and Master Bedrooms used to be which makes up a new defensive objective in the Bomb game mode. Upstairs meanwhile, is the new Reading Room and Kid's Playroom areas with the bomb sites themselves not moving.

As well as these new additions, a new corridor has been added between the Girls' Bedroom site (where Construction used to be) and Bathroom, a doorway has replaced one of the Garage entrances, a new stairway connects Reading and TV Room, and a lot of the ceiling of the basement has been made destructible, allowing you to hold Garage from above.

Gameplay and Feature Changes

New Secondary Gadget

As revealed during the Six Invitational panel three months ago, a new "Proximity Alarm" secondary gadget has been introduced for some operators, including Caveira, Mira, and Rook. The gadget, which is thrown similar to that of Wamai's Mag-NETs, starts beeping when an attacker comes within its radius alerting nearby defenders of their presence. It, therefore, acts as a possible Barbed Wire replacement gadget.

Unlike the Melusi's Banshee Sonic Defense Primary gadget, these Proximity Alarms create a much higher pitched sound, can be destroyed by simply shooting them and have no slowing effect on the attacker.

Amaru Balancing Changes

In order to give her more of a surprise factor, when Amaru swings into a barricaded window using her gadget, the wooden barricades now break just as she hits them, giving the defenders much less time to react. The defenders can still hear the Hook pulling her in, but it is now much quieter, meaning any other loud noises, such as gunfire, could obscure the sound. Her gun also now comes up more quickly than before after using the Garra Hook.

As well as this, when attempting to use her gadget to traverse up a hatch, the Garra Hook itself breaks the hatch rather than her needing to break it with her shotgun secondary, once again giving her the element of surprise. This is aimed at improving her pick rate and make her a more viable operator, as she currently has a pick rate similar to Clash at around 4% in high-level Ranked games.

Ranked Changes

Three changes have been made to the Ranked playlist.

Firstly, you must be level 50 to play Ranked, up from level 30, to dissuade cheaters from making new accounts and to encourage new players to learn more of the ins-and-outs of each map and operator before queuing into the playlist.

The ranking system.

Secondly, a player can only reach Champion rank once they have played 100 Ranked games to hopefully make the achievement even harder to get and to give the game's anti-cheat more time to catch an offender before they earn the title.

Finally, each player will have a single rank across all regions, rather than each region counting your MMR separately. This means if you Rank into Gold I while playing in Europe, you'll still be Gold I in North American or Australian servers as well, and that there are now just 100 Champion ranked players across the world rather than in each region, further increasing the prestige of the title.

COVID-19 Delays: Ping and Replay

Both the new ping and replay systems showed off at the Six Invitational have been delayed from this Season due to the Coronavirus lockdown. They will still be coming in Year 5 at a later date.

New Cosmetics

The new "weapon attachment skins" are equipable cosmetic item similar to gun skins which change the colour of all attachments on the gun. On launch, there will be three free skins to chose from -- Grey, Black, and Tan -- with more coming in the future.

Finally, a new Elite Skin will be released with the new season in the form of the Echo Tenkamusou Ninja Elite.

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Check back here at SiegeGG for full coverage of Operation Steel Wave when it launches in a few weeks time.