Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege has grown to be one of Ubisoft's biggest successes of the generation, delivering a shooter experience that while competitive, delivers unrivaled tension and atmosphere. Despite its rocky beginnings in 2015, the game has grown to be one of the biggest titles of today – now entering its third year of post-launch content.

Kicking off 2018, Rainbow Six Siege is on track to receive its ninth major content drop, "Operation Chimera." Deviating from the formula of previous expansions, Chimera brings significant shift in tone, with a new biohazard setting.

Availability: Release date and times

Operation Chimera will roll out over the course of Tuesday, March 6, with each platform seeing at least an hour of scheduled server downtime to deploy the update.

  • PC: 9:00-10:00am EST (2:00-3:00pm GMT)
  • PS4: 10:00-11:00am EST (3:00-4:00pm GMT)
  • Xbox One: 11:00-12:00pm EST (4:00-5:00pm GMT)

Once the Operation Chimera update hits your platform, a mandatory game update will be required before connecting to Rainbow Six Siege's servers. While a majority of the expansion's content will be available from this point forward, you'll have to wait for the new operators if you don't own the Year 3 Pass.

New mode: Outbreak

The centerpiece of Operator Chimera is an all-new game mode, known as "Outbreak." Diverging from the game's competitive roots, Outbreak will be a three-player cooperative experience, with similarities to the existing "Terrorist Hunt" mode. Ubisoft has stressed this is fantasy take on the Rainbow Six formula centered around player-versus-environment (PvE) encounters, with a "new flavor" compared to previous expansions.

In line with the name of the expansion and the mission itself, Outbreak will pit players against a biohazard threat, once a dangerous pathogen kickstarts a widespread pandemic. After a USSR space capsule containing an alien parasite crashes in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, a quarantine is established to contain the epidemic. Team Rainbow is deployed to push into the hot zone and help with the containment of the virus, establishing the premise for the Outbreak missions.

The Outbreak virus triggers crystalline structures to protrude from the body, causing the infected to shift into one of five infected forms. Each of these infected types has their own gameplay mechanics, adding variety to Outbreak combat. With five distinct classes, players will need to formulate strategies to counter their differing traits. Here's a breakdown of the five infected types and how they may play out in combat.

  • Standard "Grunts" are lower-level enemies that fight in hordes and are among the easiest foes to fight. While they'll need to get close to attack, don't underestimate them in groups.
  • Delivering an explosive flair to combat, "Breachers" are equipped with proximity bombs that trigger when close to foes. These are very agile creatures and can deliver heavy damage upon detonation.
  • Rooters are a little more of a nuisance to handle, drilling crystalline spikes through the ground to injure enemies. To combat these, players will need to keep on the move and be wary of their surroundings.
  • Unrelenting, brute force comes with the "Smashers" – towering beasts reinforced with a thick hide. Absorbing all bullets in their path, you'll need to stick together to take these creatures down.
  • The Apex leads infected hordes towards targets, sending projectiles and lower-level enemies into combat. Hunting down an Apex will alleviate incoming attacks, but it won't be easy.

Outbreak missions will take place across three new maps designed exclusively for cooperative play – Resort, Hospital, and Junkyard. Throughout these missions, players will be instructed to complete various objectives while overcoming the infected threat. Retaining the unique nature of Rainbow Six Siege, each of these levels still rewards precise gunplay and taking advantage of destructible environments.

Ubisoft will be limiting Outbreak to 11 Operators, to ensure the best balance of abilities that fit the mode. Among these are new Operators, Lion and Finka, alongside Ying, Buck, Ash, and Glaz. Existing defenders will also be playable, including Smoke, Kapkan, Doc, Tachanka, and the default Recruit. This will make for a unique synergy between attacking and defending roles for the first time in the game's history.

Outbreak will be an event rather than a permanent mode, meaning its inclusion in the game will be limited (for now.) The mode is expected to be available to the public on March 6 and run for four weeks, before concluding on April 3. This will follow an early access PC release for those on the Technical Test Server (TTS), which begun deploying on February 20. Outbreak will be available to all owners of Rainbow Six Siege as a free update upon release.

New Operators: Finka, Lion

Like previous seasons, Operation Chimera will also debut two new playable Operators for the new cooperative mode and competitive multiplayer. Tying into the theme established with Outbreak, both operators will be experts in biohazard threats and containment under the fictional "Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) Threat Unit." This season strays from the previous trend of one attacker and one defender in competitive multiplayer, instead adding two new attackers.

For those with Rainbow Six Siege's Year 3 Pass, all three Operators should be available at no additional cost, on March 6. Seven days after the update goes live, on March 13, these Operators will be available to the public using Renown or R6 Credits.

Lera 'Finka' Melnikova

One of this season's attacking Operators, "Finka" hails from Russia, following extensive work with self-dissolving nanites under her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology. After joining the army, her work was invested into military programs, helping Spetsnaz operators handle hazardous materials. This established the groundwork for her "Adrenal Surge" ability, used in-game.

While playing as Finka, all allies are given a nanobot shot, which lays dormant throughout the match. By pressing "RB," Finka will activate an Adrenal Surge signal, disintegrating the nanobots and delivering drugs directly into their bloodstreams. This provides all teammates with a temporary boost, with increased health, a bump in speed and reduced recoil. When activated, Operators in a down-but-not-out state will also be revived.

On top of Finka's ability to buff teammates, the Operator comes with a new Spear .308 rifle, SASG-12 shotgun, and a 6P41 light machine gun. The PMM pistol and GSH-18 make a return from previous Spetnaz Operators too.

There are side effects to consider while activating the Adrenal Surge, linked to the increased heart rate triggered by the dosage. Pulse's heartbeat sensor will easily pick up boosted teammates, while in inhalation of Smoke's toxic gas will lead to increased damage. If using Finka, communication with teammates is key to get the most out of the ability.

Olivier 'Lion' Flament

"Lion" is the second of this season's new Operators, joining CBRN after specializing in biohazard threats with the French counterterrorism unit. After a troubled upbringing, Lion now remains motivated to complete his duties, maintaining and holding quarantine perimeters. In-game, players will have the opportunity to take advantage of his EE-One-D drone to lock down locations and track enemy activity.

Upon activating his EE-One-D drone, all players on the enemy team will be notified. Following a three-second timer, the entire map will be surveyed, tagging and tracking moving hostiles in real time for allies. To prevent this, defending Operators must stand still for the duration of the scan, though can freely look around, lean, aim or shoot. Mute's jammers also counter this effect, allowing players to freely move within their radius. Lion can activate this ability three times per round, with a brief cooldown period between activations.

Alongside Lion's EE-One-D drone, the Operator will use the new V308 submachine gun, that while like the existing Vector .45 ACP, uses .308 rounds. The 417 Marksman rifle and SG-CQB also make a return for primary weapons and the P9 pistol and LFP586 are offered as secondaries.

New cosmetics: Outbreak Packs, Elite set, weapon skins

The release of Operation Chimera will also be paired with new cosmetic content, tying into in the expansion's zombie theme. The biggest addition is a new randomized reward system, "Outbreak Packs," with similar mechanics to the existing Alpha Packs. These are randomized drops containing a collection of 50 cosmetics, available exclusively over the four-week period Outbreak is live. For those who log during the Outbreak event, four packs will also be awarded for free.

Outbreak Packs do sport some major differences to Alpha Packs – the biggest of these being ties to real-world money. Unlike Alpha Packs, which are earned through in-game "Renown," Outbreak Packs are only sold via the game's premium currency, for 300 R6 credits. For a full breakdown of Outbreak Packs, including details on availability and a full list of contents, check out our in-depth guide.

Rainbow Six Siege Outbreak Packs: Pricing, skins list, contents and more

Cosmetic content will be available outside of Outbreak Packs, including a new "Sidewinder" Elite set for Ash. Among its contents is the Sierra Serpent weapon skin for her weapons, a Sidewinder uniform, Elite Ash chibi charm, and an "Ain't Got Time for You" victory animation. Following a brief outrage over the paid nature of Outbreak Packs, the Ash Elite skin will be provided for all existing players of Rainbow Six Siege on March 6. New players will have the opportunity to purchase this skin with real-world cash.

Additionally, the new seasonal "Rusty Trigger" and "Ancestral Southwest" skins will debut for players through R6 Credits or Renown. Previous seasonal content will be shifted into the Alpha Pack content pool, joining the existing range of cosmetic content.

Rainbow Six Siege: Operation Chimera should be available from March 6, 2018. New Operators will be tied to the Year 3 Season Pass for one week, ahead of a March 13 public release. Outbreak should be available from March 6, until the event concludes on April 3. For a deeper breakdown of all Operation Chimera changes, including tweaks to existing Operators and bug fixes, head over to the official Ubisoft changelog.

Updated, March 6, 2018: Updated to provide rollout times for the update.

This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.