With its many unique Operator characters, each with their own special ability made possible by a unique gadget, Rainbow Six Siege is effectively a hero shooter – one that opts for the gritty realism of CS:GO over the fantastical technology of Overwatch. And with aspirations to eventually give players 100 Operators to choose from, Ubisoft’s design team has to get more and more creative with each major update. There are only so many ways to give Operators tools to plant mines or block off pathways; after two years of growth and success, now is the time to break the mold and do things a little differently. Enter: Finka and Lion, the two newest Operators set to debut with the Operation Chimera expansion that kicks off the first quarter of Siege’s Year 3. I’ve had the chance to play both of these yellow-clad newcomers in PvP (and the new Outbreak mode, which you can read about tomorrow) – and I’m happy to report that their gadgets make good on the promise of keeping Operator designs fresh and exciting.

The official Rainbow Six Siege site goes into great detail profiling Finka and Lion, from their backstories (like how Finka got that distinctive facial scar) to their full equipment loadouts. But, as with all Operators, their unique gadgets are what really make them interesting – and Operation Chimera is going all-in on a largely unexplored mechanic that make Finka and Lion stand out. For starters, we’re getting two Attack Operators in an update for the first time (so two Defense Operators are guaranteed for the following expansion to keep things nice and symmetrical). Both of their gadgets revolve around the idea of a global ability – a concept first trialed in Siege by Dokkaebi, the South Korean hacker from the 707th Special Mission Battalion who quickly became a fan favorite after her debut in the Operation White Noise update. Just as Dokkaebi’s Logic Bomb can distract all enemies on the map by (figuratively) blowing up their phones, Finka and Lion both use gadgets that benefit their entire team, now matter how close or far they might be. As you can imagine, that’s an incredibly powerful effect in a game where coordinated actions are crucial – but these new abilities are more balanced than you might initially think.

Let’s start with Finka. Her gadget is technically applied to all teammates at the start of a match: muscle-regenerating nanomachines coarse through the blood of your and everyone on your team, and can be activated at any time. On your command, your entire team will get a health boost for a limited time – and if anyone’s been injured to a Down But Not Out state (i.e. crawling around after taking near-fatal damage), Finka can automatically rescue her downed allies from anywhere on the map by popping her ability. It sounds like that’d make her automatically superior to beloved medic Doc, but there are subtle drawbacks to Finka’s version of a revive. For starters, downed teammates will rejoin the fight with a mere 25 health, which eventually reduces down to 5 – enough so that pretty much any bullet or nearby explosion will kill you instantly. And while I didn’t encounter this scenario in-game, the developers revealed a fascinating way to counter Finka’s tech. Because her nanomachines amp up your heart rate, your Operator is suddenly pumping blood and breathing in faster. If you’re unlucky enough to trigger a Lesion spike trap or wade through Smoke’s gas cloud, your body will actually take in these highly harmful substances faster if Finka’s buff is still on you. It’s a brilliant nuance to fighting as or agaisnt Finka – I just hope those subtleties can be clearly messaged to players (especially during the intensity of your average Siege match).

Though Finka’s global ability is a fun way to support your squad and facilitate a push, I’m way more stoked on Lion’s special skill. Once you’ve selected Lion, his EE-One-D drone (which brings to mind a Star Wars droid every time I hear the name) automatically takes to the skies above the map. Unlike Echo’s flying drone, you never see through the EE-One-D’s perspective directly; rather, it gathers intel on enemy locations in an entirely new way. When Lion triggers his gadget and sends a signal to the drone he affectionately calls “Big Brother,” a 3-second countdown clock pops up onscreen for Lion and his enemies. When the timer’s up, the drone scans the entire map for movement (denoted by a with a guttural rumbling noise that I already love). If an enemy is moving during this scan, they’ll be highlighted for your entire team to see (through walls and all) for a few moments. But all the opposing team has to do to negate this extremely influential effect is remain motionless for the few seconds that the drone is scanning. 

With every use (up to three per round), Lion’s gadget creates an intense little game of red-light-green-light, as enemies scramble to get to safe cover before they’re forced to stand still or give away their position. It’s especially useful to deploy during a push onto the point, or while keeping a watchful eye over a planted defuser as it ticks down to your team’s victory. With such a simple, built-in counter, Lion’s gadget already feels nicely balanced – and could even shake up the meta in high-level play. Because of pro players’ proficiency with drone control and map knowledge, Mute’s typically a rare pick due his jammers having less impact at high level. But against a Lion, the jammers’ short-range, gadget-disabling radius will also provide a small safe haven for any movement during the scan, which could make Mute a clever counterpick. 

In my experience, playing as either Finka or Lion already feels great – but Lion’s gadget also feels great to play against, which is the best kind of Operator design. Anything that forces both sides to get creative or think quickly during an exciting, universally shared moment is good in my book. Both abilities also feel nicely balanced at this stage; many players seemed to assume that Dokkaebi’s gadget would be overpowered before release, but global abilities turned out to be fairly straightforward to counteract – or use effectively – with the right knowledge and practice. Finka and Lion represent an exciting push by the Siege developers to expand their design space, and that kind of innovation is a good sign for all the Operators to come. You’ll be able to siege as Finka and Lion when Operation Chimera debuts in the very near future, alongside the new co-op Outbreak mode (which I can tell you all about tomorrow, so stay tuned).

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