Rainbow Six: Siege is now headed into Year 4. Since its initial launch in 2015, the number of in-game operators has more than doubled as Ubisoft Montreal has continued to add extra nations. In doing so, Team Rainbow has traveled across the globe training its members in a breadth of new locations. One continent was always missing though: Australia.
Last year at the Six Invitational 2018 in February, the roadmap for the year was revealed and Australia was still no where to be seen. In an interview following the presentation I nicely asked Xavier Marquis, the Creative Director on Rainbow Six: Siege, “where the bloody hell are the Aussies?”
“I’m sure it will happen,” Marquis replied, “I have no doubt about it. I don’t know when, but we will do it.”
As I prepared to head over to the Six Invitational 2019 last month, I had a sneaking suspicion I wasn’t going to have to ask that same question again. My hunch was correct — ahead of the trip, Ubisoft confirmed that Team Rainbow is headed to the Australian Outback thanks to Burnt Horizon, Year 4’s first season.
I had the opportunity to speak to Xavier Marquis again in his home office after Ubisoft Montreal’s Burnt Horizon presentation. He remembered my face, and jokingly mentioned how he didn’t have to talk to me about a lack of Australian representation any longer. I began our conversation where we left off last year, reading out loud back to him what he had told me. Then, a new question: why was it time to look at Australia?
“Every year we are preparing a list, with many factors that go into approve the list,” Marquis told me. “It can come from where the player base of Siege exists within the community, it can also come from the envy to travel through the world in our game. And then sometimes it can come from the influence of journalists, for about two years now I’ve received this question, ‘where is Australia?’
“Year after year I had Australia in my list, but we had to make a choice. I’m not allowed to just make the decision myself, it’s team decision. I’ve always wanted to have Australia on our roster and this year we are excited to start off with that country. It is extremely nice to finally have it.”
The two operators being introduced during Burnt Horizon are Mozzie and Gridlock. Mozzie is a defender who is able to capture the attacker’s drones using his Pest gadgets. These autonomous bots can latch onto enemy drones and give Mozzie full control of them. He’s a very powerful operator and I asked Marquis where the idea of Mozzie came from. Surprisingly I learned that originally there was one character, who has since been split up into several.
“It was a very old idea,” Marquis said. “When we worked on Vigil and Dokkaebi, the power of Mozzie was already in our mind. We created a character a long time ago, an operator with many powers in terms of her description. She was able to capture drones, cameras, etc. But it was too much for any one character, there were too many powers. That is why we have split it into multiple operators and Mozzie comes from this period where we developed a character who was able to capture all of the electronics.”
Gridlock is the new attacking operator and her Trax Stingers gadget can be a nightmare for defenders. The device can be thrown onto the ground and they begin deploying these spiked mats that replicate and spread throughout a large area. The Trax Stingers can slow down and cause damage to enemies who end up stepping on them. Rainbow Six: Siege’s Game Director, Leroy Athanassoff, talked to me about how her design was originally inspired by the creep mechanic in StarCraft and how that led to technical problems on consoles.
“When we were first starting to work on Gridlock, we had this notion that we wanted to give the possibility for attackers to really control an area,” Athanassoff told Stevivor. “The first prototype that we had in terms of game design was based on the Zerg creep mechanic in StarCraft. Specifically she [Gridlock] was planting something on the ground, and this thing was growing overtime. A defender was able to destroy it, but slowly it would come back.
“This was a very fun prototype. Then as always what happens when you are in a production environment is that you can hit the technical ability of devices like the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, and what you can really do with them. We evolved from that it no longer expanded back, instead it starts off right away with a big area. We were iterating from our concept and ended up with this gadget that Gridlock has today.”
To round out the Australian theme of Burnt Horizon a new map will be added to the rotation. Outback is set in the desert where you’ll be roaming around a service station with a motel attached, with it all being split into three different sections. During the hands-on time that I had with the map it reminded me of Oregon. It wasn’t as large as some of the maps added recently, and it felt easier to navigate – which sometimes can be confusing when you are trying to learn them. I talked to Xavier Marquis about this when we were discussing the map.
“It’s nice that you’ve compared it to Oregon,” Marquis said. “Because its multiple buildings it has the same types of strategies. I think that it’s way more vertical than Oregon, and because it is open I think that it could be more intense.”
“Also the new approach that we have; which Australia is a nice setting to do this with – is its much brighter in terms of colour. We have colour coded rooms like blue and green spaces, which helps you to recognize the area you are in.”
Before I finished talking to Marquis about Burnt Horizon I explained how there was some feedback from the community to have map name changed to ‘Servo’, in order to try and give it some Australian slang. After all, Ubisoft Australia confirmed it was crucial in changing references from “gas” to “petrol” on the map already.
“Okay,” Marquis laughed. “We’ll have to think about that one.”
Rainbow Six: Siege is available now on Windows PC, Xbox One and PS4. Burnt Horizon kicks off Year 4 content from 6 March.
Luke Lawrie traveled to Montreal, Canada as a guest of Ubisoft to cover the Six Invitational and Burnt Horizon.