After a number of tantalizing teaser clips and leaks, Ubisoft finally provided a complete reveal of the upcoming new content for Season 8: Para Bellum during the Season 7 LAN Grand Finals event in Atlantic City.
With this update, the Rainbow Six universe expands further into Europe with the inclusion of operators from the Italian GIS counter-terrorist unit, and a new map called Villa, set in Italy’s countryside. Along with the new content comes a number of updates, and quality of life improvements.
SiegeGG received early access to play the upcoming season, speak directly with the dev team, and hear exciting details about the next Pro League season. One thing is clear - Ubisoft is focused on making Para Bellum the most competitive season of Rainbow Six Siege we’ve seen yet. The question though, is do they deliver on this goal?
Jeremy Dowsett (left in image below), Senior Level Designer for Ubisoft Montreal, compared the nine month journey of building Villa to child labor, and the map itself as “his baby”. The majority of DLC maps thus far have been met with lukewarm to negative receptions, particularly from competitive and professional players; Border and to a lesser extent Coastline are the only maps added post-launch that see regular gameplay in the Pro League.
Some of the complaints with the newer maps we’ve seen range from lack of vertical destruction, maps feeling too large, and bomb sites that weren’t sufficiently balanced or viable against skilled and coordinated teams.
One thing that appears different about Villa is the level of involvement from players, particularly pros, during the long development period. Dowsett cited multiple play tests with both ranked and pro players as essential inputs for iteration. The feedback from these sessions was reportedly positive, with several testers in the last play session suggesting that Villa is the very best map to appear in Rainbow Six Siege yet.
The early impressions were so strong, in fact, that Ubisoft and ESL catapulted Villa directly into the Pro League map pool, rotating out the classic but stale Kafe Dosteyevski. The feedback from competitive players and the immediate inclusion into the Pro League circuit is a strong signal of validation.
Villa returns to some of the traditional level design we observed in the launch maps, mixed with key learnings from what hasn’t worked in both older and newer maps. While Villa’s release is (as is the norm for seasonal updates) coupled with new operators, conversations with the dev team revealed that level design is almost completely independent from operator or presentation design. Instead of compatibility with a particular set of operators, navigation flow is the priority.
While we only played a few matches on Villa, map knowledge felt easier due to familiar callouts and guiding lines like the red carpet on the first floor corridor. In particular, areas such as the the back pantry, kitchen, and red stairs enable roamers to rotate efficiently, and the off-site basement crypts and tunnels are ideal for both sneaky and information-oriented operators to lurk. Dowsett felt that the basement, which does not host any bomb sites, was the largest risk he took when building this new map. That is despite the fact that at one point during the development cycle, the team experimented with a split-level objective, as seen on maps like House and Hereford base, before removing it. Also of note is a rappel-able skylight that, while somewhat risky, offers attackers the opportunity to rappel all the way down to the first floor and pick off unsuspecting defenders.
With that combined with plenty of destructibility on the interior, we should expect to see competitive players devise dynamic strats for this map very quickly. Finally, conscious design decisions to make safer spawns and create buffer rooms between outside windows and bomb sites create more balance by preventing early man advantages (untraded opening kills) and increase the potential for bomb defuser retakes, respectively.
The new map will be available to play on the Tactical Test Servers this Tuesday, May 22nd. Try the casual Discovery Playlist or custom matches to let us know your thoughts @siege_gg on how this map plays!