Shield operators are getting a big change in Rainbow Six Siege, with a rework arriving in the Year 8, Season 4 operation. It will be the biggest change to shield operators since the game’s launch, and NME spoke to Siege creative director Alex Karpazis at the Six Invitational to find out what’s changing.
Karpazis points to shields as one of the standout features of Siege and something that really differentiated it at launch, but said that while the fantasy is about a super powerful force shaping the battlefield around them, in reality it’s “two operators dancing around each other super awkwardly, and we strip these elite operators from any of their fun and engaging tactical choices.”
The rework will empower shield users, but rather than empowering them to be the godless killing machine that was shield-wielded attacker Blitz in 2018, here shield operators will be buffed to help with the role the development team on Siege had them planned for: protecting and observing.
“At the moment we’re playing around with shield operators tucking in behind their shield, so there’s no hip fire on them anymore, but you can free look to have better situational awareness.” explains Karpazis. “If you truck up to a doorframe, you can look left and right, and even see deployed gadgets to your left and right while behind the safety of your shield. Now, you have a lot more awareness around you and how others can come at you.”
This also gets rid of the awkward hip-fire spam from attacking shield users that is so frustrating to both attackers when every round misses, and defenders when the first round is a lethal headshot. This makes shields more powerful defensive, but means they’ll need to actually aim their weapon to be offensive, creating a vulnerability that can be exploited.
“Our primary consideration was how do we make it a really fun experience on both sides of the shield,” says Karpazis. “We’re looking at it so that if you actually fire at a shield operator, they’ll be slowed. That slow means now that your team can flank them and actually take care of them if they’re alone, which again, is the whole thing about teamwork on the defending side. As a shield operator, you should be supported on the offence. And on the attacking side, if you see a shield operator, you need to answer that.
The best counter to a shield has always been another player with a gun to cover flanks with you, but this change should make this feel essential, and provide more options for players who, previously, were limited to getting a hard flank or something high explosives as an answer.
“The aim is for people to commit to the shield,” grins Karpazis. “You can always take it down and aim but we want it to feel like a conscious decision when you switch between having your shield up and feeling safe and playing more aggressively.”
Karpazis said that at the moment, the changes to shield operators might feel more like playing defensive operator Clash, who has a lot of defensive power that can be used to shepherd enemies and gather intel for the team.