Since the release of Rainbow Six Siege, the latest installment of a highly profitable franchise, Ubisoft has been sunning itself in the warmth of the critical reception. Twitch streamers have continued to embrace the multiplayer game past release. Fixes based on community feedback have been prompt and effective, too. As the saying goes, success has many fathers, but this success also has a son: “Black Ice,” the first piece of downloadable content is out and excellent.
Released last week on Xbox One, PS4, and PC, Black Ice introduces two new playable operators to Rainbow’s roster, along with a new map and a plethora of weapon skins. The best part though? Most of the content here, including the new map, is free for players who own the game as of February 9 (the two new operatives have to be unlocked with in-game currency). The decision to let players earn expansion is unusual but welcome. It makes playing feel like hopping aboard a virtuous cycle.
Black Ice introduces two new operatives from Canada into the game: Buck and Frost. Members of the JTC-2, both Buck and Frost are used to operating in extreme weather conditions, relying on kits free of electronics like many of the other playable operators in Rainbow.
The first of the two is Buck, an attacker who has access to the skeleton key ability. Buck has access to two great rifles: the C8_SFW and the CAMRS. The C8 handles in a way similar to the 416-c, with manageable recoil and great stopping power. As for the CAMRS, it’s a FAL equivalent that operates as a marksman rifle with decent stopping power and manageable recoil. It’s nothing to write home about, but it works when necessary. Buck’s other gun, an underbarrel shotgun, doesn’t really do much for him — it takes a few shots to take down an enemy. But the real purpose here is to give him a quick way to breach doors. It’s fine, but not a huge win for players. What makes Buck a great addition is really the C8, which has a superb reload animation and feels totally Canadian and practical.
The second operator released was Frost, a defender who has access to the welcome mat ability. It’s essentially a modern day bear trap, which works all too well if set up properly, and has easy become one of the most useful defensive abilities available. Not only does the welcome mat rebuff attackers attempts to dismantle it, but it also immediately downs enemy players if they step too close. During my time with Black Ice, I couldn’t stop having fun with Frost’s welcome mats, especially when surrounding objectives with them. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing a little bear trap marker pop up randomly before going to finish off someone who stepped in the wrong place. Frost also has access to two great primary weapons, the Super 90 shotgun and the 9mm_C1 submachine gun. Both handle as you’d expect, with the C1 being a small powerhouse with a unique World War II-influenced design, and the Super 90 looking similar to other shotguns in the game. But the Super 90 is a significant powerhouse compared to other shotguns, namely because of the longer range it provides.
New Map: Yacht
The new map included with Black Ice is a welcome change of pace to the current map rotation, featuring tons of entries and windows for both teams to take advantage of in combat. Set in the Arctic, the map brings you to a luxury yacht that has crashed into an iceberg. The boat is filled with open bedrooms and wooden walls that leave you exposed, but the lower decks consist of metal walls and engine rooms that keep you on your toes as you navigate them. While playing on the yacht, I had plenty of close calls and fun times — especially in the bar area and engine room due to their mix of open and closed areas. That being said, though, yacht isn’t really anything we haven’t seen on Rainbow before, consisting of the same basic mechanics and tactics the previous maps enforced. Regardless though, it’s a nice addition to the lineup.
Overall, “Black Ice: is a nice little chunk of downloadable content for Rainbow that’s worth going back to the game to check out. The new operators are fantastic additions to the roster that fit in well with the original operator lineup, keeping the balance alive while also adding fresh faces to the battlefield. The new map may not be bringing anything new to the table tactics wise, but that doesn’t diminish the fun of diving exploring an ice-bound yacht. It would be worth the money at twice the price. (Did I mention it’s free?)