In this latest edition of Designer’s Notes, we’ll go into more detail about the balancing changes that’ll come with Crystal Guard and give you an insight into the reasons behind these changes.




Please note that we are using presence to gauge the popularity of an Operator. This notion had to be introduced to reflect the implementation of the pick & ban.

Presence definition: pick rate of an Operator when not banned. Win Delta: The Win Delta is aggregated from Operator’s Win Deltas per Bomb Site.




  • Adjusted ammo count for primary and secondary weapons to set a consistent magazine ammo range for each weapon in a weapon type

Population targeted by this change: Casual, Top Ranked and Pros.

Over the past couple seasons, we’ve spent a great deal of time behind the scenes looking at how we could rework the ammo system. Specifically, we wanted to establish a consistent ammo count range between weapons of the same type, while also improving the experience and increasing the ammo of "utility" weapons like DMRs and shotguns. Below, we’ve broken out the updated total ammo ranges for each weapon type (except for secondary shotguns which will remain unchanged), alongside explanations for each weapon type’s change:


In addition to everything noted above, each weapon will also get one extra bullet, similar to what you previously saw with open bolt guns. Unlike open bolts, closed bolt guns will get this extra bullet in their initial magazine.

  • Adjusted damage drop-off for each primary weapon type (except for shotguns with spread pellets) to have consistent, linear curves
  • Unified damage drop-off for silencers (15%) across all primary weapons (except for shotguns with spread pellets)

Population targeted by this change: Casual, Top Ranked and Pros.

Similar to streamlining "hidden" passive abilities with past updates, we’ve wanted to rework how damage drop-off functions for a while now. With so much going on under the hood, weapons have historically had multiple different damage curves that address damage drop-off over distance while reacting differently to certain attachments – specifically silencers. This made it hard to pick up a new weapon (even if it was the same type as the last one you were using) and understand at a glance how it would react to long-range engagements without first taking it to the lab.

With Y6S3, we want to take the guesswork out of damage drop-off by giving each primary weapon type (except for shotguns with spread pellets) its own distinct, linear curve that’s consistent across every weapon in that type. While you won’t notice a change with pistols, secondary SMGs and regular shotguns, the following weapon types and Glaz’s OTs-03 have all received tweaks to their damage drop-off curves. The first distance value represents the point at which damage begins to drop off. Damage will drop off in a linear curve until it reaches (and then stays at) its minimum damage at and beyond the second distance value:


As for silencers, we’ve made the damage reduction of this attachment consistent across all guns. As many of you have rightfully pointed out in the past, the loadout screen previously claimed that silencers had the same effect on all guns, even though there were slight variations in the damage reduction per weapon. With Y6S3, we’re making 15% damage reduction the uniform value across all weapons that have a silencer equipped, which will now be reflected accurately on the loadout screen.

  • Ying’s Candela, Blitz’s G52-Tactical Shield, and the Stun Grenade use a new flash detection system that calculates flash duration. It takes the environment and angle of the explosion into account as well as players’ distance and orientation.
  • If an Operator is affected, they will always be flashed at 100%, but the duration will change each time, increasing the reliability of the flash effect.

Population targeted by this change: Casual, Top Ranked and Pros.

One of the most frustrating parts of coming face-to-face with a flash has always been the consistency. It’s not fun to use a gadget and be unsure of exactly how it will affect your enemy. In order to address this, we’ve completely reworked how flashes interact with operators and the surrounding environment in order to take the guesswork out of encounters.

The new flash detection system uses four parameters to determine the intensity of flash a player will encounter. Whenever a player throws a flash, it now calculates the operator’s distance from the explosion, the orientation of that operator, the environment around them, and the angle of the explosion. This calculation is performed for every player caught in a flash’s radius, ensuring everyone’s results are accurate to their situation, while still being consistent across matches.

With this change, we hope that players will be able to trust the consistency of their flashes once more as they come to understand exactly how they should react in a given situation. We expect that this reliability will also increase their effectiveness in combat, making them a more valuable resource.

  • Operator armor will be converted to HP:
    • 3-armor operators will have 125 HP
    • 2-armor operators will have 110 HP
    • 1-armor operators will have 100 HP
  • Rook’s Armor Plates will grant a buff to permanent HP for the round:
    • Picking up Armor Plates will buff an operator’s maximum HP by 20 until the end of a round
    • Any heals will heal up to this new maximum value for the duration of the round
  • HP is now represented using a bar in the HUD instead of a circle

Population targeted by this change: Casual, Top Ranked and Pros.

Many of you likely got your first taste of this on the Y6S2 Test Server. Well, we’re happy to extend this rework to Siege’s Live servers this season. The goal was to streamline certain "hidden" passives that are difficult to understand at a glance in a match without hitting the lab or looking at a ton of different variables.

To streamline this and establish clear health pools for all operators, each armor class has been assigned a different HP total. This should make it easier for players to accurately judge the impact of an offensive play and coordinate accordingly, taking the mystery out of armor values. We’ve also updated the way HP is represented in the HUD to make the information clearer at a glance, specifically the different amounts of HP for each armor class and the immediate effects of damage, heals and overheals on these values. This also means that everyone – from players to casters – will see HP represented in one unified style.

It’s also important to note that this is the first step in an eventual move away from rigid armor and speed ratings. They can be artificially limiting when trying to realize an operator, so in the future we would like to rework speed values in a manner similar to this HP rework, ultimately opening more options for balancing operators. While we don’t have a timeline to share at the moment, we’re investigating this and will be sure to follow a similar process of working with pros, testing on the Test Server, and digging into your feedback to ensure any reworks meet your expectations.

  • Screen shakes that result from explosions are now reduced across the board and are completely removed from certain device explosions
  • Screen shakes are completely removed from explosions caused by:
    • Ela’s GRZMOT Mines
    • Zofia’s KS79 Lifeline concussion grenades
    • Echo’s Yokai sonic bursts
    • Nomad’s Airjab Launcher repulsion devices

Population targeted by this change: Casual, Top Ranked and Pros.

While screen shakes can be an important effect to convey the power of an explosion, we’ve heard from players that they can be overwhelming, uncomfortable, and particularly intense when the effects come from multiple sources simultaneously. In response to this, we’ve reduced the intensity of screen shakes coming from explosions, while removing screen shakes from certain gadgets completely.

Since this change affects quite a few operators and gadgets, we wanted to dig into some of the reasons for these changes. Looking first at concussive blasts and Echo’s Yokai bursts, we’ve found that their effects can be frustrating, jarring, and produce some physical discomfort when paired with screen shakes. At the end of the day, they should be efficient at disorienting affected players in-game without creating discomfort outside of the game. Of course, they will still retain their other disorienting effects to ensure they operate as you’ve come to expect in-game. For Nomad’s Airjabs, our intention was to make the screen shake intensity consistent with the lethality of the explosion, so we decided to remove screen shakes from the non-damaging explosion. The push-back will still feature a screen shake as you would expect, but the non-lethal explosion of the device will not add to the ability’s existing shake.

Our intention is for this to create a competitive environment where screen shakes are experienced in expected scenarios, but are not overbearing. Specifically, approaching this as a matter of comfort rather than a nerf. It’s also worth noting that we’re investigating options to accommodate players who are prone to motion sickness in the future. While we don’t have any dates to share, we’ll be sure to share updates when we can.



We know you’re excited to give Osa a try on the Test Server – we’re right there with you! While the Test Server will launch tomorrow as mentioned in the reveal, Osa’s Test Server debut will be delayed by one day. The team wants to make sure we do her justice for her debut. Just like her work leading Nighthaven R&D, sometimes it takes a little extra time to make sure you’re getting the best possible first experience.

That means Osa will be available to play on the Test Server beginning Wednesday, August 18. You’ll still be able to check out the many operator changes below and map buffs coming tomorrow, so we appreciate your patience as we get Osa ready for testing. We can’t wait to hear what you think of her!

  • Added Frag Grenades (removed Hard Breach Charge)

Population targeted by this change: Casual, Top Ranked and Pros.

Moving into Y6S3, Finka’s win delta is the highest of all Attackers, but her presence continues to be among the lowest. She has an effective loadout, but so much of her play requires effective coordination with her team.

By replacing her Hard Breach Charge with Frags, the intention is to approach her in a way that’s similar to Iana. Whereas Iana is an intel gatherer with Frags and the GONNE-6, we wanted to extend this to an operator in the healer/support role, making Finka the clear choice. Our hope is that this change in utility will open up more on-the-fly strategic options for her.

  • Cluster Charges
    • Can be deployed on reinforced surfaces and Mira’s Black Mirror
    • Charges take longer (3s) to pass through reinforcements
    • Reduced charge bounce after triggering
    • Extension tube is now vulnerable to damage
    • Added gadget light to signify phase of activation
    • Added VFX for Cluster Charge triggering on soft walls and reinforced surfaces
    • Added SFX for Cluster Charge triggering on reinforced surfaces
  • Increased recoil on AK-12

Population targeted by this change: Casual, Top Ranked and Pros.

Despite having an interesting ability, Fuze has struggled to increase his presence. We know that some of this comes from his ability, specifically that it can be difficult to understand exactly what effect it will have on the other side of the surface it’s applied to. To improve on this, we’ve reworked Cluster Charges. In an effort to make their effects clearer, we reduced the amount they bounce after being triggered and added a light to show what phase of activation the device is on. Probably most exciting is that Cluster Charges are now useable on reinforced surfaces.

Now that they’re no longer restricted to soft walls, Fuze’s Cluster Charges will be useful in a much wider range of scenarios. This is expected to make Fuze a strong counter for heavy utility strategies thanks to his increased effectiveness against bulletproof utility. Plus, the more versatile nature of being able to deploy on reinforced surfaces should make Fuze more fun to play, as this opens up more options for in-the-moment strategies.

For those looking to counter Fuze, this rework also opens up some new options:

  • Now that it can be deployed on reinforced surfaces, electricity can be used to effectively destroy it.
  • It also won’t trigger if it’s within the range of Mute’s Signal Disruptor, although if the disruptor is placed once the Cluster Charges have already been triggered, it won’t have any effect.
  • The updated visual effects will allow players to accurately anticipate where the charge has been placed.
  • While players won’t be able to shoot the gadget until it has breached the surface, its extension tube can now be destroyed with any type of damage. Note, no matter how quick you act, the gadget will always release at least one sub-grenade.
  • The charge will now take longer to drill through Castle’s Armor Panel and Mira’s Black Mirror, making them a little more reliable.

For information on the increased recoil on the AK-12, scroll down to the Weapon Balancing section.

  • Increased OTS-03 magazine size to 15 bullets (from 10)

Population targeted by this change: Casual, Top Ranked and Pros.

As it stands with the Balancing Matrix, Glaz has a very low presence and win delta. Considering he only has a single primary weapon available to him, it’s important that it serves him well. Tying into the rework to ammo mentioned above, we’ve increased his DMR’s mag size and updated his maximum ammo to fit the weapon class’ new normalized values. This should encourage more active play in the field, especially when he previously had less ammo when compared to other DMRs.

Now, missed shots won’t be as immediately punishing given his larger magazine and ammo reserve. Players will be able to approach combat situations more aggressively, making him a more viable pick for players who like the range of his loadout, but also want to get in their opponents’ faces more often.

  • Removed 2.0x scope from G36C
  • Removed 2.5x scope from ARX200

Population targeted by this change: Top Ranked and Pros.

Since the last update, Iana’s presence has been steadily rising, to the point where she now has the second highest amongst Attackers. An increase was expected following Zofia’s nerf, but similar to Ace and Sledge who are receiving nerfs to bring their presence, versatility and fragging potential in line with other Attackers, Iana is also receiving some tweaks to her kit.

Specifically, the longest-range scopes for her two primary weapons have been removed. The intention here, much like the others mentioned above, is to lower her overall versatility, as she is capable of excelling in just about any situation. Now, it will be more important that players make strategic use of her Gemini Replicator to get an edge on their opponents rather than simply picking them off at range with such a powerful kit.

To give some more background to this balancing philosophy, with all these changes to weapons, we want to make sure that operators with really strong or essential utility don’t also excel as strongly in the fragging department. That’s not to say that we want to completely cut their fragging potential if they have strong gadget utility – simply that we want to find a balance between the two. As a gadget-based game, removing utility puts more emphasis on weapons. We try to explore weapon-based adjustments first where possible, as this allows us to make more granular adjustments to the balance without causing the meta to swing too strongly to being weapon-first, utility-second. We previously saw this happen after adjusting the utility meta, which made utility easier to clear. These wild balance swings create frustration for players, so we think it’s important to take a more iterative approach to find that sweet spot, and it just so happens that beginning with weapons is often the best starting point.

  • Electronics Detector
    • Can use Ping 2.0 through walls
    • Can ping operators with wearable electronic devices (Vigil, Counter-Defuser, etc.)

Population targeted by this change: Casual, Top Ranked and Pros.

When it comes to intel gathering, IQ has historically been a solid pick. This is despite the potential shortcoming that much of her value requires quick and effective communication with the rest of her team. Unfortunately, not all players find themselves in situations where this is possible. That’s where Ping 2.0 comes in.

We’ve updated IQ’s Electronics Detector to now use the Ping 2.0 system when scanning for electronics. This means IQ no longer needs to use comms to contextualize pings. Once pinged with the Electronics Detector, the rest of the team has the most important intel at the ready on-screen. The goal here is to make IQ even more effective in her intel-gathering role and make it easier to share information if voice comms aren’t available. This also allows her to keep the focus on her actions in-match instead of having to also make regular call-outs, which should help speed up her game.

This rework also increases the effectiveness of her interaction with Dokkaebi. Since cell phones function as wearable electronic devices when in use, IQ is now able to share more contextual info with her team when she spots Defenders affected by Dokkaebi’s Logic Bomb.

  • Signal Disruptor
    • Disruption zone shape changed to sphere with the same radius of 2.25m (from cylinder)
    • Warning zone shape changed to sphere and radius reduced to 4.75m (from cylinder, 6m radius)
    • Added AoE VFX (red area removed)
    • Added new LEDs
    • Improved accuracy of bullet collision

Population targeted by this change: Top Ranked and Pros.

The heavy utility meta has made it very clear that while many operators offer incredible utility through their abilities, some are still overtuned. One of those operators is Mute. He has become an popular pick for his Signal Disruptor, which acts as an extremely powerful denial tool thanks to its large area of effect – particularly vertically. From denying intel to denying entire reinforced walls, the Signal Disruptor has been in need of a tweak for a while now.

In its pre-Y6S3 state, it used a cylindrical shape for its area of effect, which began at the device’s base and extended vertically. This allowed it to cover a significant amount of space in a column, effectively denying on its own terms while also outclassing the options of similar operators. With Y6S3, its area of effect has been changed to a sphere, extending outward with the Disruptor at its center. This means that while the disruption radius will stay the same at ground level, it will not extend to the same vertical heights as before.

With this change, the goal is to make Mute less of a jack of all trades denial expert and instead make him more focused on intel denial. Since the device’s disruption radius is the same at ground level, he’ll continue to excel at cutting off drones. This should then open the door to more viable denial picks like Bandit, while encouraging a wider range of strategies and synergies.

  • Removed SMG-11

Population targeted by this change: Top Ranked and Pros.

Coming into Y6S3, Sledge continues to show an upward trajectory on the Balancing Matrix, rising in presence and win delta. A big part of his comes from the high degree of utility in his loadout that makes him incredibly versatile.

By removing his SMG, this will bring his overall versatility down and encourage a slightly more focused approach to his moment-to-moment play, given his strong soft breaching capabilities and vertical control. We may be closing one door for Sledge, we can’t imagine anyone better at breaking open another door in its wake.

  • Equipped with a regular drone during Preparation Phase – only 1 regular drone available
  • Shock Drone can jump
  • Shock Drone’s projectile changed to laser (from taser)
    • Deals 5hp damage (from 1)
    • Has infinite range
    • Does not disable electronic devices
  • Shock Drone has a larger bullet collision (double the size)

Population targeted by this change: Casual, Top Ranked and Pros.

It’s possible that some of you caught a hint of this earlier this year, but the secret’s out – Twitch’s Shock Drone can jump now! That’s not all, though. In addition to getting a little more mobility, we’ve tweaked the drone’s projectile to bring its damage type more in line with other gadgets. This means that it will now deal damage that destroys gadgets, rather than disabling them.

To offset this increase in utility, Twitch won’t immediately have access to a Shock Drone. Instead, she’ll begin the Prep Phase with her sole regular drone. Once the round starts, though, she’ll be able to use her new and improved Shock Drone. While we expect many of Twitch’s existing strategies to stay the same following this rework, normalizing the drone’s damage type to match other lasers should help make its effect more clear at a glance. Since this is quite a large change, however, we want to hear what you think about it.


  • Increased recoil on AK-12
    • First shot kick increased
    • Vertical recoil increased
    • Horizontal spread will be stronger and constant to the right
    • Long burst recoil will start on the 10th bullet (was 12th)

Population targeted by this change: Top Ranked and Pros.

Please note that recoil simulations shown are representative of recoil on PC without attachments.

We know recoil changes can be frustrating, especially when they target an operator as widely loved (at least by Attackers) as Ace. They require you to rethink and relearn muscle memory, so we want to help with that process. Moving forward, we will be sharing diagrams that break down the before and after for any recoil changes. This should help to visualize the change up-front and take a lot of the guesswork out of the relearning phase.

For Ace, it’s likely not surprising that he continues to boast one of the highest Attacker win deltas on the Balancing Matrix. His AK-12 is a force to be reckoned with and the utility that comes from a ranged hard breach makes him a powerful all-around operator which is reflected in his presence. By giving his primary a little more kick, this should help bring him more in line with other Attackers while maintaining the unique utility he brings to a team.

Fuze is a different story. As mentioned above, his Cluster Charge has been buffed considerably, which is expected to make him a strong counter to current heavy utility strategies. Our intention is for his increased effectiveness against bulletproof utilities to far outweigh the AK-12’s nerf. As always though, we will be keeping a close eye on him post-patch to make sure this change is tuned appropriately and can tweak as necessary.

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