Year 5. And while it may be in the shadow of the previous season’s big star, Sam Fisher, it does finish the game’s fifth year with a bang: Tachanka is finally, after five years, an operator worth considering, and he’s joined by new defender Aruni, who can turn doorways into lethal laser gates and punch through walls.New star Aruni is a Taiwanese two-speed, two-armor operator for defenders. Her gadget is the Surya Gate, which operates almost like an indestructible, multi-purpose Kapkan trap. Placed on doors, windows, or even soft-cover walls, the device creates a wall of lasers that will damage anything that passes through. Any thrown projectile – be that grenade or gadget – will be instantly destroyed by the lasers, while any attacking operator that walks through will take 40 points of damage. Importantly, the device itself is bulletproof, so can’t be shot out by attackers.There are plenty of drawbacks to the Surya Gate, though. When triggered it turns off after a short delay, and so players looking to enter a site can simply throw a grenade at the lasers to deactivate them, and then pass through unharmed. Gates can be reactivated by any defender, achieved simply by shooting the device, but this can only be done after the gadget has recharged itself, which takes a surprisingly long time.
It’s definitely an interesting gadget, though; placing it on softcover walls that are then reinforced means that if the attackers breach there are lasers blocking the new entry point. The laser grid is highly visible, so won’t catch people out like a Kapkan, and 40 damage is likely to rarely kill any sensible attacker, but it will work to slow attackers down and funnel them.
Aside from the Gate, Aruni also has a prosthetic arm that can be used to punch huge holes through soft cover. It’s not Oryx-levels of destruction, but perfect to create a hole big enough to provide a quick line of sight.
Aruni may be the new operator, but Neon Dawn feels like it will be mostly celebrated for its Tachanka rework. His kit was detailed back at the Six Invitational earlier this year, but if you missed it, his turret is now gone. Well, almost: his primary weapon is now that same DP27 LMG but sans the tripod, and it chews through cover like a dog with homework. For a gadget, he now has the Shumikha Launcher; an incendiary grenade hurler with 10 rounds that can set fire to surfaces and help deny access to areas. This kit means he’s definitely still an anchor-style defender, but with more versatility and mobility.As with all Siege seasons, the operators are not the only addition. The Skyscraper map has been reworked, although it’s not quite the overhaul that many other maps have received. It still looks and feels identical to its original incarnation, but you’ll find some adjustment to entry points and walkways. Hopefully these small adjustments will make all of its bomb sites more viable.
On the balancing side, Jager’s ADS has been substantially altered; each device can now fire down infinite projectiles rather than just two, but there is now a 10-second cooldown between each shot. This makes him notably weaker against things like Fuze assaults, but does provide more long-term endurance. Hibana has also been altered, with her X-KAIROS launcher now able to select either 2, 4, or 6 pellet shots, allowing for better conservation of ammunition and more choice over breach size. Echo’s Yokai drone has been debuffed, and now is visible when placed on ceilings.
As for non-operator balances, attackers will be alerted about defender run-outs after one second rather than two seconds. The bomb defusal animation has been moved closer to an operator’s feet, and there is now a ‘no drop’ zone on bomb sites to prevent operators from accidentally dropping the defuser when close to the bomb.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer.