Aug 16, 2020
Tyler ErzbergerESPN Esports
- Staff writer for ESPN.com
- Covered esports since 2011
- Worked with biggest teams across titles like League of Legends and StarCraft II
After two decades of sneaking his way across the world in numerous high-profile missions in the Splinter Cell franchise, video game icon Sam Fisher is coming to another hit Ubisoft property in the form of Rainbow Six Siege.
Under the code name “Zero,” Fisher will play as an attacking operator, using a two-way drill camera known as the Argus Launcher to always stay one (or two) steps ahead of the opposition. The Argus Launcher pierces soft or reinforced walls, windows, hatches and is capable of sticking to any surface inside the game. Once Fisher activates his premier gadget, he can spy through to the other side of the terrain that the Argus Launcher is attached to, also allowing him a single laser charge from his camera that can be used to damage Defenders or their trusty gadgets.
“Sam is all about intel and gadget denial,” Rainbow Six Siege designer Emilen Lomet told ESPN in an interview about Fisher’s arrival. “Those two things are already [explored] in the Siege, but the new area of gameplay is that [Fisher] has a tool that is able to go through walls and reinforcements without destroying them, and that’s new for us. For this operator, there was an additional layer [in creating him] — we’re doing Sam Fisher, we need a gadget that fits Sam Fisher. And from that, we had to start our operator process a bit differently, that we had to do something that fit in Siege but was very much Sam Fisher.”
Although the idea of one of Ubisoft’s legends joining forces with one of its most popular ongoing games felt like a slam dunk from the first time it was proposed, the development team wants to make sure the fans of the Splinter Cell franchise know that their hero isn’t going to play the same as he does in the Splinter Cell franchise. While they’ve brought elements of Fisher’s essence into the game through the gadgets they’ve crafted for him to torment his rivals, if Splinter Cell fans look to play Siege like a covert sneak mission, they’re going to end up having a less than ideal time.
The introduction of Fisher is also another step in Ubisoft’s evolution of adding new characters inside the game. Generally, for each addition of an operator into Siege, there would be a second character also joining the ranks. As the game’s roster has blossomed over the years since the game’s official release in April 2015, the development team has made a decision to slow down on adding characters, looking to continue their mission of having each new operator either bring something entirely new to the Siege world or add a special twist to something already inside the game.
A slew of operators inside Siege already know about the art of reconnaissance, but Fisher is prepared to show the young’uns how it’s done.
“I think [Fisher] has a pretty balanced role,” lead game designer Jean-Baptiste Halle said. “I think it’s funny, because [looking at it] as a fan of it still, it’s like an instructor coming in to train the operators. He has a really advanced kit. And of course, right now we know it’s tough to find a place in the meta as a part of the Attackers composition, so I can’t say for now if he’ll find one, but we’re hoping with such a balanced kit, maybe he’ll find a place at the [pro] level.”
When asked if Fisher’s arrival could mean the door opening for other characters from other iconic gaming franchises at having a chance to join the Siege roster, ala Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. series, the developers mentioned that though this won’t be the beginning of a new trend overtaking the game, that door is open. The obvious connection within the company made the Sam Fisher licensing straightforward, whilst any other popular character outside of the Ubisoft umbrella would take an agreement between two sides.
For the creators, however, it’s less of how big of a name a character can bring to Rainbow Six Siege, but how they can shift and fit the landscape that they’ve already carefully curated over the past five years. As they’ve done with all their newfound operators, they threw Fisher into the wringer of testing that eventually led to the best professional Siege players in the world getting their hands on him to test out. While Halle said that the pro workshops can be hit-or-miss in terms of how much they like a new operator, the development team sometimes even seeing how much they can “play with fire” with their characters, Fisher’s balanced, all-around kit received two thumbs up from the pros that got their hands on him.
“He’s definitely stealthy,” Halle said. “You have to play relatively patiently, maybe a bit more than other operators. I think you also have to play clever. He has great guns, but if you want to make the most out of him, you can’t be a run-n-gun player. You have to think.”
Fisher will be available in the upcoming third season of Rainbow Six Siege’s fifth year, Operation Shadow Legacy. Along with the Splinter Cell legend, the new season will also include a reworked Chalet map and additional game features, including a reworked ping system and a map veto system. The Test Server for Operation Shadow Legacy will go live on Aug. 17.