When you’re 5 years deep into the life of a competitive multiplayer game, you’re bound to have made at least one map design that has left players… unhappy. Some maps are universally loved or hated, and some split the population down the middle. For a long time now Skyscraper has been one such map, though that’s sure to change soon with the rework it’s receiving next season in Operation Neon Dawn.
For the uninitiated, Skyscraper is a Japanese-themed map first released way back in Operation Red Crow, along with Hibana and Echo. The action takes places hundred of meters above the city streets on top of a towering building, and was a cluster of runouts, spawn peeks and other frustrations due to its map design. That’s all going to change in Neon Dawn though, with Ubisoft working hard to bring the aging map up to scratch.
The first thing you’ll notice on the new and improved Skyscraper is that many of the windows are simply gone – either boarded up or removed entirely. Previously attackers could simply sit outside and look for rotating defenders, but now many of those old holdouts are gone with entry opportunities somewhat limited as a result. To make up for this, many of the existing entrances have been made safer, with more cover on offer to help entry fraggers get into the map.
Next up is the Dragon area located between the two wings on the top floor. This area is now fully enclosed and offers rotations for both attackers and defenders alike, as well as providing attackers outside of the building with an easier time traversing from one side to the other. Every site has been touched up in some way too, with all of them feeling very viable to both attack and defend. Finally much of the visual clutter on the map has been reduced and simplified, remedying one of my biggest personal frustrations with map.
It’s not just Skyscraper that’s being changed this season though, as several operators are getting some adjustments for the last season of Year 5. The major ones we know of so far are:
- Hibana: Can now shoot her choice of 2, 4 or 6 X-Kairos pellets.
- Ash: 3 breaching rounds instead of 2, can destroy gadgets now.
- Echo: Yokai drones are no longer invisible when setup on the roof.
- Jager: ADS no longer has 2 charges, is now infinite with a 10s recharge time.
There’s some pretty significant changes here, so let’s start at the top. Giving Hibana the choice to fire either 2, 4 or 6 X-Kairos is a huge changeup to her utility and gives her far more flexibility when attacking sites. Firing 2 X-Kairos on a wall can help her rat out a tricking Bandit or Kaid, while firing 4 means Hibana can crack open a hatch without having to waste two pellets each time.
Next up for the Attackers is Ash, with a seemingly minor change that will give her a lot of added value in any line-up. Ash has seen somewhat of a resurgence in popularity lately due to the utility heavy meta, but she struggled to deal with certain Defender gadgets as her breaching rounds would simply bounce off. Now they will burrow into objects like deployable shields or Melusi’s Banshees, destroying them at the end of the fuse time. She’s also receiving a third breaching round to help in her newfound utility busting role.
While the Attackers received some buffs coming into Neon Dawn, the Defenders most certainly did not. Echo has been a menace for most of his existence in Siege, and many pro teams have a handshake agreement to not even pick the operator in their matches. To try and bring him into line, Ubisoft have opted to remove the cloaking ability from his Yokai drones, making them easier for observant attackers to rat out.
Jager is also copping another whack from the nerf bat this season, this time with a hit to the effectiveness of his Active Defence System. Currently each ADS has two charges that are spent destroying enemy projectiles, with Jager often stacking them to nullify an enemy push. In Neon Dawn, though, each ADS will only hold one charge at a time that takes 10 seconds to recharge once spent. This means that while each ADS can stop an infinite number of projectiles, Attackers will now be able to burn those charges much faster and hopefully crack sites open a little easier.
While there are many, many questionable changes that Ubisoft have made in the name of balance previously, I think those slated for arrival in Neon Dawn are wholly positive. The Skyscraper rework is an excellent example of how to preserve the identity of a map while making it infinitely more enjoyable to play, and the operator balancing is spot on this time around. All in all, Neon Dawn is shaping up to be a helluva final season for Year 5, and you’ll be able to check out all of the changes yourself once the test server goes live.
Rainbow Six Siege is currently available on Windows PC, Xbox One and PS4; Neon Dawn heads to all platforms later this year.
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