Rainbow Six: Siege isn't usually the kind of game I play. A military co-op shooter heavily dependent on communication and well-executed strikes goes against my solo-playing nature. So imagine my surprise when I left my time previewing the upcoming Operation White Noise content completely enamored with the Rainbow Six: Siege universe.
Operation White Noise is the new content season that introduces two new Korean operator, one Polish operator, and a new map taking place in Seoul, South Korea. As a Korean-American, I'm always thrilled to see South Korea represented in games (Agents of Mayhem's redeeming feature in my eyes). What's even better is that I came out of the preview more than satisfied with the Tom Clancy take on my home country.
For a military shooter, there's a surprising amount of personality to each Operator, and the two new South Korean Operators are no different. Vigil is kind of tricky and I found his invisibility skill is a bit hard to use effectively. Opponents always seemed to find me even if I was invisible so I wonder if there's any real benefit to the skill, though the chances that I was just playing poorly are also pretty high.
I also wasn't necessarily a fan of his backstory as a defector from an "unspecified" country in Asia. Let's face it, if he didn't defect from North Korea, it's strongly implied that his family has made the same perilous route many refugees make to reach South Korea. A route that involves harsh terrain, risk of human trafficking, and plenty of actual death. It's not necessarily the idea that North Korea is used as a narrative device that bums me out (Homefront I'm looking at you). But the fact that he decides to become a super soldier helps perpetuate the forever war narrative on the Korean peninsula.
Dokkaebi (Korean for goblin or little demon) is the more interesting of the two characters. While she has that requisite colored highlights in her hair Asian women characters always seem to have in media (It's a common trope) I also appreciate that she wasn't some K-pop star turned military expert, or something vaguely along those lines.
Her special ability is really easy to utilize to good effect as she can basically hack nearby enemy phones to start ringing. Thereby giving away your location to the enemy. If you get caught in her hack, you also have to manually hold down a button to shut off your phone, leaving you further vulnerable to opponents.
Zofia, the new Polish Operator is apparently related to another Operator, Ela a Polish Defender. I suppose they added her to fill out the roster of Polish military characters, but thematically I believe she's unrelated to Operation White Noise. Her special ability gives her a double barrel grenade launcher that shoots either an impact grenade or concussion grenade for quick and dirty damage. I usually play heavy characters like her in shooters so I found Zofia to be right up my playstyle, albeit in a more traditional sense.
While I'm no Rainbow Six: Siege veteran, I can see the appeal of the new Tower level from Operation White Noise on a technical standpoint. The Seoul level is a vertical stage that has Attackers descending from up top, while Defenders pick a floor to barricade. There are multiple paths down the stage from an Attacker's perspective, including a central elevator shaft (which is really dangerous since it's always the first place any Defender checks), along with multiple ventilation systems, ladders, or rappel points where Attackers and rope down the side of the Tower and burst in through windows.
It lends itself to a lot of variety, though I always find that the game tends to force Attackers to split up and attack from all sides (the level is circular) while Defenders phalanx themselves around the objective. I'm not sure if this is typical for the game since I wasn't allowed to try out any other stage.
From an aesthetic perspective, I absolutely dug the Tower. Part office building, part tourist location. I found that the Tower actually did remind me of very specific locations in Seoul, which I always found somehow managed to turn impressive or unique buildings into an attraction for tourists.
The Tower features both business-oriented rooms like a reception area, dining area, and board rooms, while also featuring neat little side areas like a bar, Korean history museum (with Korean audio tours in the background), and even some generic K-Pop blasting through some of the speakers. The level of detail really spoke to me, and I really admire how the designers at Ubisoft tackled this stage. I see a lot of influences from modern South Korean action cinema here.
At its core, Rainbow Six: Siege is a five vs. five asymmetrical co-op shooter where an attacker team tries to either wipe out the defender team, or defuse the bomb the opponent team is guarding. What they don't tell you is that unlike previous Tom Clancy games I've played, Rainbow Six: Siege boasts a colorful cast of attractive operators.
Each operator has their own unique personality and are also pretty good looking which is pretty different from the generic military soldiers I've seen from previous Tom Clancy games. We talk about personality-driven casts in other games like Overwatch, but for a roster of hardened military officers from across the globe, the Rainbow Six: Siege cast has some pretty unique designs, both visually and narratively.