Australia’s elite military operatives are joining the line-up in popular multiplayer shooter Rainbow Six: Siege.
The game, published by Ubisoft on PC and console, features teams of operatives from the world’s elite special forces (including the British SAS, Russian Spetznatz, US Navy SEALS, and French GIGN) competing against each other in a range of scenarios including bomb defusal, hostage rescue and team-based deathmatches.
The game has a strong local following. Aussie team Fnatic competed in the 2019 Six Invitational world championships in Montreal earlier this month. One of the big announcements from the event was the addition of two Australian SAS operatives to the game — Gridlock and Mozzie.
The character’s backstories involve them being mobile and vehicular warfare specialists with the regiment; Mozzie is a keen motocross enthusiast, while Gridlock has an affinity for four-wheel vehicles.
Both characters are joining the game as part of the Operation Burnt Horizon update, expected to launch next month.
Tori “Gridlock” Fairou is an attacker, armed with either an F90 Austeyr or an FN Minimi light machine gun, while her special gadget is a range of dragon’s teeth-like floor spikes that cause damage, slow down enemies and make noise.
Her fellow specialist is Max “Mozzie” Goose, a defender with a gadget that can hack enemy drones to bring them under his control. His primary weapon is a 9mm Colt Commando submachinegun.
SAS operatives aren’t the only Australian thing coming to the game either, as a new map — officially named Outback — has also been unveiled. Representing an outback roadhouse/truck stop/pub/motel in one, it is a two-level affair with a range of zones offering plenty of opportunities for ambushes, choke points and tactical solutions. There are cosmetic additions too, including a Kangaroo charm that can be attached to guns.
A group of Australian games journos and I were able to test out the new operatives and map in a session at Ubisoft’s Montreal HQ, and while Mozzie doesn’t really suit my playstyle (I don’t use drones a lot in a game), I found Gridlock to be quite effective — her traps slowed down attackers and cost them time, while her primary weapons were easy to use as well.
Rainbow Six Siege creative director Xavier Marquis said they were happy to bring the Australian operators and location to the game, especially as it was something fans had been requesting for a while and Australia was such a significant place.
“We want to be absolutely around the world. We want to reach as many nations as we can (with content),” he said.
“Australia is extremely important. It’s a continent, and to represent this continent was absolutely a necessity.”
The outfits the two characters wear aren’t standard-issue, and Mr Marquis said this was true of several of the Rainbow Six Siege operators to allow them to be easily differentiated.
“The issue with special forces globally, especially when they’re working in (counter-terrorism) environments is they’re usually wearing black — black balaclavas and those kind of things, which has ‘uniformised’ everything. We don’t want that because (the Rainbow Six operators) are heroes (unique individual characters),” he said.
Some fans have commented on Gridlock’s larger frame, for which Mr Marquis made no apologies, saying he did not want a game that only had “beautiful people” in it.
“I want to represent everyone. It’s important,” he said.
“The requirement I ask when we develop a character is, please, represent the entirety of humanity. Each operator is different based on a keyword — for example, one can be shy, one can be bold, one can be sad.”
Mozzie, he said, was impatient, being fast, wanting to act immediately and generally needing action.
Interestingly, the developers did not consult with the Australian Defence Force when developing the game’s SAS characters (although they did consult with military experts), with Mr Marquis saying they wanted to retain some creative licence as the reality of what special forces do in actual service is different to what they do in the game.
“We do prefer to try to represent a piece of reality, but we don’t want to be 100 per cent real because it (what real-life special forces do) is something extremely serious. It’s something that is sometimes tragic, and we are not,” he said.
“That’s why we’re 80 per cent inspired by what they are and the other 20 per cent is fiction.
“We want this (element) of fiction, that’s why we never talk about ‘enemies’ or even ‘terrorism’ — it is a forbidden word for us. The main theatre is operator versus operator — it is their world, they know each other.”
Ubisoft’s Sydney office was involved in some of the localisation for the map and characters as well, including naming the operation and making sure regional details were correct, such as getting an in-game sign for “Last Chance Gas” changed to “Last Chance Fuel” and that the vehicle models in the level were all right-hand drive.
Fnatic coach Jayden “Dizzle” Saunders said the new operators and map could have big implications for the game, with one in particular a potential “cultural hero”.
“Mozzie, the defender, is really well designed in terms of how he looks. His gadget in-game is really cool in terms of how he gathers information by stealing the attacker’s drones,” he said.
“It’s going to change the way the game is. It will make you rethink every drone you see. But I also think the way he’s been created as a character to look, the cosplay community’s going to love him, and the general population are going to like how he looks, how he plays, how he moves about … I think Mozzie’s going to be a real cultural hero in the game.”
Saunders didn’t think Gridlock was going to have quite the same impact but would still be a popular character, particularly with solo players.
“I think she’ll be good for people that … play a little bit more solo; if you’re just playing by yourself during the game, you can cover your own back while you go and do your thing — so I think she’ll be a good operator,” he said.
“Apparently, she’s got a really cool backstory, so she’ll probably be really well loved within the community as well.
“I think overall, the Operation: Burnt Horizon is going to be a huge success for the game and for Australia.”
Royce Wilson attended the Six Invitational in Montreal as a guest of Ubisoft