Ubisoft announced new details about the upcoming third season of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege Year 4 were announced today at the Rainbow Six Major in Raleigh. A new operation is coming called Ember Rise. It will add two new operators, a revamped version of the map Kanal, a battle pass system and a series of quality of life improvements to the game.
The most exciting of the two new operators is Amaru, an attacker from Peru. She comes equipped with standard weapons, but will also be able to use a new grappling hook tool. The Garra hook will let her zip to the tops of buildings and into windows, where she can actually use her speed to kick and kill opponents standing close to the window.
The other new operator is Goyo, a defender from Mexico who was raised by Amaru. Goyo has a Volcan shield which can provide cover, but it also has a special ability. It has an incendiary bomb attached to it that can burst and deal fire damage to any nearby enemies.
Kanal, a classic map that has been around in Rainbow Six Siege for years, is getting a full rework. Ubisoft says this rework is intended to make the map easier to navigate and move through, with new stairs and paths linking parts of the map. Bomb sites have also been moved to new areas.
With this new season and operation, Siege will introduce a Battle Pass system, starting with a smaller pass named “Call Me Henry.” According to a press release from Ubisoft, the “Mini Battle Pass” is “Phase 1 of Rainbow Six Siege’s Battle Pass deployment in Year 4 and will launch during Year 4 Season 3 for free.” That sentence sounds like gibberish the more I read it, but the takeaway is Battle Passes are coming to Siege.
Beyond these bigger changes, Ubisoft promises improved menus, new updates to fight player toxicity and better map rotation for different playlists. These changes will go live on the Rainbow Six Siege test server on August 19, where Ubisoft will watch for bugs and balance issues.
No release date was given for when the update would hit the main version of the game.
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.
I’m playing Dota 2 again following the release of the game’s 2019 battle pass. There are new treasures to collect. Big tournaments are just around the corner. And I’ve spent another $10 on that battle pass. I can’t tell if this game is actually exciting again or if I just feel compelled to play because there’s a fresh batch of brass rings to grind for.
In my first match after coming back, I played as Zeus. He’s been a favorite hero of mine since the game’s beta, mostly because of how straightforward and instantly gratifying he can be. Zeus is a nuker, which is the genre’s parlance for someone with a few attacks that deal lots of damage. His ultimate, God’s Wrath, doesn’t even require you to be near your opponents; it automatically hits everyone on the map, no matter where they are, dealing a hefty amount of damage in the process.
Whether you’re a newcomer to the game, an experienced verteran, or somewhere in between (like I am), killing some unsuspecting player with a move like God’s Wrath is incredibly satisfying. I keep coming back to Dota 2 because it’s a deep and complex competitive multiplayer game, but these simple pleasures are what really make it fun.
This year, it’s less clear to me how the battle pass factors into that. I still want to collect all the goodies, and I don’t mind throwing some extra bucks Valve’s way after spending over 1,000 hours with its game, but the grind has become more of a time suck than ever. Also, some of the new ways that statistical analysis have begun creeping into the game have made it feel like a chore.
The battle pass was once little more than a glorified guide to Dota 2’s annual world championship tournament, The International. In recent years, the battle pass has become much, much more. It allows players to bet special in-game currency on their matches, which can then be spent on increasing their battle pass level. It also opens up entire new modes. The pass itself can be leveled up, and as players hit certain tiers on the path to ranking up their battle pass, they can unlock things like new special sound effects, map skins, and character cosmetics. It’s sort of like a giant, communal scavenger hunt, and some of the proceeds from that go to help fund the prize pool for the tournament while the rest flow into Valve’s coffers.
This year’s version has included some strange and unwelcome choices. You used to be able to earn extra levels by trading in Immortal Treasures, the loot boxes that gift you anywhere from one to several unique and intricate skins. Now you can only recycle the contents inside of the Immortal Treasures to get new unopened ones. And even to do that, you need to collect four or more. It’s always been hard to level up the battle pass beyond 100 just by playing, but now it’s that much harder.
But a lot of the best rewards require you to do just that. Custom lane creeps that change the game’s main computer-controlled enemies into lizards require reaching level 182 in the battle pass. Axe Unleashed, a special skin completely changes the look of one of the game’s most iconic characters (and one of my personal favorites), requires reaching level 425. A custom visual overhaul of the game’s map that makes it into a series of ancient, jungle-engulfed ruins, requires reaching level 160. I could pay for additional levels at $10 per 25, but that feels like it would defeat the purpose of earning cool new Dota 2 stuff by doing cool stuff within the game.
Then there are the ways that the battle pass is optimizing play in conjunction with the Dota Plus AI coaching service. The tool now shows you win rates in-game depending on which hero you pick at the start of the match and also depending on who else has already been chosen. A special meter in the top left corner lets you know exactly how much of the damage you’re taking is physical as opposed to magical, which can guide you in your decisions about gear to purchase during a match. There’s even a timer now to help automate the stacking of creep camps, one of Dota 2’s more esoteric skills that can help teams gain material advantages over one another by farming the enemies on their side of the map in the most effective way possible. All of that is very helpful. But it’s not available to anybody who didn’t bother to buy the battle pass, creating an uneven playing field that encourages everyone else to join the arms race.
Even if I chose to opt out of these tools, they’re now embedded in the rest of the Dota 2 landscape. It’s not quite a pay-to-win situation, and not quite pay-to-grind either, but for all of the delightful things attached to this year’s battle pass, so few of them feel geared toward helping refresh my relationship to a game whose fundamentals I already love.
Digital Extremes has overhauled the daily alert system in its free-to-play loot shooter Warframe, something that had been in place for six years, and replaced it with a battle pass system called Nightwave that weaves its reward structure into a larger story.
Nightwave is the name of a new radio station players can dial into on their spaceships. It’s run by a new character called Nora Night, who uses a pirated broadcast signal to share gossip and conspiracy theories about the rich, powerful, and dangerous. Every time players log on, she’ll have a list of daily and weekly challenges for them to complete in order to build up their reputation with her and earn Nightwave-specific rewards like crafting resources, weapon mods, and armor sets in the process. After a certain number of weeks, the entire thing resets and a new set of challenges and rewards become available, not unlike the seasonal updates already in games like Rocket League and Fortnite.
What’s extra cool about Nightwave is the way it’s subtly tucked into the rest of Warframe’s world building. Digital Extremes is treating Nightwave sort of like a radio play. There will be individual series that each run approximately 10 weeks, and inside each series will be a handful of episodes that slowly move the narrative along before resetting with a new arc.
The current series, called The Wolf of Saturn Six, focuses on a rogue Grineer criminal who managed to break out of a prison hidden deep within the planet’s gas clouds. Three other fugitives followed him, and now each has a random chance of spawning in any mission as a mini-boss. Defeat them and you build standing with Nora. Defeat the Wolf and he might drop one of the components necessary to craft the giant sledgehammer that he fights with. Nora’s daily and weekly challenges, like kill X number of enemies in Y fashion, each net 1,000, 3,000, or 5,000 standing with her, depending on the difficulty.
For every 10,000 standing, you reach a new rank going all the way up to 30, with a new prize at each tier. In addition, this first series adds a new currency called Wolf Creds which are awarded every few tiers and can be spent at Nora’s shop for other stuff like equipment mods, special skins, and new weapon blueprints. Once the series ends, all of this stuff will get replaced with a new set of loot themed around whatever the next storyline is.
It’s a lot, but also a huge improvement over the previous daily challenge system, which usually just consisted of going to a specific node on the map and repeating an old mission for a bunch of extra currency. It was mostly useless for veteran players and boring for newcomers. The new battle pass-style system not only provides a bunch of worthwhile rewards for logging on every so often to run a few missions, but also helps infuse Warframe’s universe with another level of fun intrigue.
“Greed. Brutality. Oppression. True stories, all, and the System is full of them,” Nora says at the beginning of her broadcast. “Dreamers? You listening? The System needs you performing your good deeds of the day. Nora needs it. Needs you to act. To change things. Hear the news, Dreamers. Hear it, or be it.”
Warframe has always struggled with feeling like a single, unified game with a clear overarching story, not because there isn’t one but because it’s spread out across the game in small pieces due to its fragmented structure. Who knows how the current series will wrap up or what the next one will be like, but for now, the start of Nightwave feels like a smart way to convey the mysterious mood of the game by pegging it to the incremental loot grind on which the core of it is based.