Last week, the Season Pass for the second year of content from Rainbow Six Siege was released on the Steam store for purchase with zero context as to what it actually contained. You might consider someone asking for $30 before telling you what you’re buying as a “sketchy move” and almost everyone in the world would probably agree with you. However, the season two roadmap has finally arrived and with it, some clarity as to what your money is good for.
The year one roadmap was infamously delayed by a month from the very start. The Black Ice content for the Canadian ops scheduled for release in January was pushed back a month, and in this second year of content, the first update (indicating the operators and map will be based in Spain) is scheduled for release in February. While the second year is still compensating for a delay that occurred over a year ago, the Dust Line, Skull Rain, and Red Crow content all came out as scheduled, so it’s safe to expect the entirety of Year Two to drop on time.
More good news to be derived from the year two roadmap includes a “mid-season reinforcement” icon indicating that some major changes will be dropping sometime in the middle of the second month of each season. The mid-season reinforcements are a time when the developers tweak the already existing operators and gadgets and try to adjust the meta. Generally they don’t add anything new, but the last time there was a major mid-season reinforcement was for Skull Rain and it brought impact grenades and claymores which drastically changed the way the game was played so you kind of never know what to expect with it other than something generally good. Having mid-season reinforcements planned from the start of the season is going to give people twice as much to look forward to in year two. As long as the quality of the adjustments remains the same as it has been, year two is going to be exciting for everyone.
Now for some cynicism. In the first year roadmap there was a promise of introducing new game modes. The “s” at the end of “modes” is important because during year one, there was only one new game mode introduced called Tactical Realism. Tactical Realism added literally nothing to the game, it just took your HUD away, and you could only play this new mode in custom games. To consider the introduction of Tactical Realism fulfilling their promise of new game modes is called “denial.” Since the second year roadmap makes no mention of any game modes, it’s a safe bet they’ll just be hoping nobody notices and just stay focused on the future.
Now we’ve covered the good, and some of the bad, but there’s much more “bad” to get through, unfortunately. Each season of year one came with two operators (one attacker, one defender) and a map based on their location. In year two, we can look forward to more of the same. A pair of ops from Spain in February, Hong Kong in May, Poland in August, and South Korea in November with one map in each location dropping as well. The problem here is that the last four content drops have not been stellar.
With each season dropping one attacker, defender, and map each, no season has had a perfect score of three out of three being well received. In Black Ice, Skull Rain, and Red Crow, one operator was overpowered and one was completely underwhelming with Frost, Capitao, and Hibana being the stronger operators and Buck, Caveira, and Echo clearly needing some work to be up to meta levels. In most of these cases, the operators have been reined in to better balance the game, but Hibana and Echo are very recent and will likely see some tweaks upcoming in the Red Crow mid-season reinforcements in December.
At least the Skyscraper map from Red Crow is probably the best post-release map to be introduced so far – Yacht and Favelas from Black Ice and Skull Rain respectively are considered two of the worst maps in game, Yacht being too large with not enough destructibility and Favelas being almost totally indefensible. The closest that Siege ever got to a perfect season was Dust Line, which brought two operators who were (and still are) incredibly powerful, but not game breaking after their nerfs and the Border map which is well balanced. Unfortunately, Dust Line also brought a cornucopia of bugs, hit registration issues, and server connection problems, so it’s hard to look back at Dust Line with much fondness.
The problem is that every content release breaks the game somehow for anywhere from two weeks to a month until it gets addressed, and we now have to endure this four more times. With the promise of new operators and maps being released every three months, it’s hard to imagine the mid-season reinforcements will be dedicated to anything other than balancing the new operators and making sure the game actually works after the new content breaks it again somehow. In the adjusting and fixing of all the new content, where will they find time to fix the old operators who still need it?
Glaz and Tachanka, Russian operators who have been in game since day one, are still incredibly underwhelming with Glaz having the unique ability to be outclassed by an ACOG sight and Tachanka having the unique ability to sit perfectly still with his head exposed to incoming fire. Tachanka is so laughably bad that he has his own subreddit complete with a very “praise helix” type of cult following, so it’s hard to say that the developers aren’t aware of how bad their operators are, they just can’t find the time to fix them.
On top of all this, what you’re actually receiving by purchasing the season pass is really not much. Everyone gains access to the new operators by using an in-game currency to purchase them. You only get them a week earlier than non-season pass holders. Likewise, any new map is available publicly the second the content is released. It looks like the only exclusive thing you’ll get to enjoy are some weapon and operator skins to slightly customize your appearance. And for some shiny virtual skins and a week of early access (which you will be competing with other season pass holders for as only one of you can select the new operator per round) you’re going to have to shell out $30.
Even if Siege managed to balance adjusting the old operators with introducing the new ones, and all the year two seasons were well received, and everyone bought the season pass without feeling ripped off (these are big “ifs”), does the meta really need changing four more times? Does the game have room for eight more operators? Will casual players still take Siege as their shooter of choice a year from now? And the obvious question, do the devs have eight more good ideas for new operators? If someone on the Ubisoft forums or Siege subreddit posted the idea of a “defensive drone that flies, turns invisible, and stuns the attackers with sonic pulses”, they would have been downvoted to hell, but Echo is in the game now, and all signs point to him always being planned. In January an image leaked of a Japan operator standing in the rain holding an assault rifle, and while Echo doesn’t have a rifle in game, that’s clearly his model.
So while I’m confident that the year one seasons and their concepts were all planned beforehand and the meta was carefully considered, I am not confident that the same can be said for year two. I want to believe that they’ve got another eight solid ideas, but only time will tell.
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