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Rainbow Six’s Blood Orchid DLC drops today

After 6 months of waiting and a 3-month delay, Rainbow Six: Siege’s Operation Blood Orchid update is finally here.

Siege’s 7th major update since launch, Blood Orchid gives players 3 new operators to play with and a new map set in an abandoned theme park in Hong Kong. Players are also promised a host of new cosmetic items.

Two of Blood Orchid’s three new operators are from Hong Kong’s Special Duties Unit. Ying comes armed with a cluster bomb of flash grenades that can be thrown, anchored on surfaces, or rolled under barricades. Her protective eyewear keeps her from being blinded by her own gadget, making it easier for her to rush in and eliminate her dazed foes.

Lesion comes equipped with several poisonous needles to place as traps for his enemies. Stepping on one will slow your movement speed and interfere with your vision. You’ll also suffer damage over time from the poison until you remove the needle, but doing so leaves you vulnerable for a moment.

Polish Operator Ela is releasing alongside the two Hong Kong characters. Her concussion mines leave her enemies stunned and slowed for a few seconds, making them easier targets for Ela and her teammates.

These new operators will be unlocked for season pass holders from today and made available for all players from September 12th.

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Operation Blood Orchid was first scheduled for release in May but was delayed to make way for Ubisoft’s “Operation Health” initiative, which eschewed new content in favour of bug fixes and technical improvements.

While improvements such as faster matchmaking and a public test server have already been deployed, the new patch contains an astonishing 1300 bug fixes and some shiny new servers that Ubisoft claims will “bring significant improvements to stability, connectivity, FPS, rubberbanding, and overall performance”.

“3 months ago, Operation Health was deployed as a major initiative to improve the game for the upcoming years,” Ubisoft explains.

“With the launch of Season 3, we are putting Operation Health behind us with our final update in Season 3, which is our largest patch we have ever deployed. In the future, we are still keeping the core pillars to focus on game optimization, top community issues reported by the community, and improving player experience. The groundwork in Operation Health will help us to continue to improve the game for the distant future.”

See the new operators in action in Blood Orchid’s launch trailer below.

Coinciding with the start of Season 3, Operation Blood Orchid will be deployed at 9am EDT on PS4, 10am EDT on Xbox One and 11am EDT on PC.


Lessons Publishers Should Learn from Rainbow Six: Siege’s Success

Ubisoft recently boasted that the number of people playing Rainbow Six: Siege has almost doubled since launch. That becomes even more impressive when you compare it to The Division; a more recent Ubisoft offering which took less than three months to lose 93% of its players.

With that in mind, here are the lessons that publishers can learn from Siege on how to create a multiplayer-only game that won’t wither and die in a matter of weeks.



Don’t Segregate Your Players

Multiplayer shooters often release with 10-15 maps, with more added later as paid DLC. The problem with this model is that it splits the community into haves and have-nots, and the haves can only play their shiny new maps with other haves.

This creates a cycle of longer matchmaking queue times, leading to players getting bored and moving on to other games, leading to longer queue times, and so on. Few games ever recover once they go into this tailspin.

Take EA’s Titanfall for example. Much like The Division, Titanfall lost most of its players very quickly. When the first batch of new maps released as paid DLC, it divided an already diminished player base.

Ubisoft’s approach with Siege has been to release one new map and two new characters for free at three-month intervals. Every time one of these free updates has dropped, the player count has spiked as players who got bored with the game have been lured back with free content.


Don’t Cut Corners

If you’re making an online multiplayer shooter, particularly one where players can shoot each other through walls, don’t skimp on the anti-cheat system.

You wouldn’t know it if you started playing now, but Rainbow Six: Siege’s PC version was a wild west of aimbots and wallhackers until very recently.

After months of outcry from players wanting a solution, Ubisoft finally implemented the “BattlEye” system as part of the “Skull Rain” update in early August. Since then, over 3800 players have been permanently banned from the servers!

It’s no coincidence that this update saw the biggest spike in player numbers since the game’s release. Many people who gave up on the game out of frustration with the rampant cheating problem have come back into the fold.


Use Microtransactions Responsibly

“Releasing free content and implementing a competent anti-cheat is all very well,” says a hypothetical publisher, “but those things cost money. What’s in it for us?”

I’m glad you asked, Hypothetical Publisher; this is where responsible and unintrusive use of microtransactions comes in. Microtransactions have never made a game better, but Ubisoft has shown that when used with restraint, they needn’t make a game worse.

In Siege, the items you can buy with real money are purely cosmetic (custom headgear, weapon skins etc.). No player can gain an advantage by lightening their wallet, but it means Ubisoft can continue to make money from the game post-release without having to charge for new maps and characters.

The more players, the more profitable this approach becomes. It’s in the publisher’s interest to spend money on making sure the game retains its player base, rather than focusing solely on selling as many copies as possible and then moving straight on to the sequel.


Rainbow Six: Siege’s road to success hasn’t been the smoothest, but Ubisoft are now reaping the rewards for their commitment to the game’s long-term health. This consumer-friendly approach is why Siege has survived and thrived where many bigger budget games have run out of steam.