Rainbow Six Extraction is a new squad-based cooperative shooter by Ubisoft, using the characters from Rainbow Six Siege but letting them team up to fight an alien menace. Three operatives go into hot zones, gather samples from the various alien constructs and shoot whatever looks too aggressive and pointy.
I personally don’t have any experience with Siege, because I generally avoid competitive play in games, but the co-op mission-driven aspect of Extraction was tempting enough to give this an honest go, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Let’s set the stage first because last I checked, Siege was a game of tactical human versus human shootouts where realism was at least of some concern, and now we’re fighting aliens shooting plasma at us and covering the floor in a sticky substance, it makes one wonder why the “Tom Clancy” brand it still attached to the title.
In this near-future sci-fi setting, the earth is under attack by an alien species that hitched a ride on a meteor that crash-landed in New Mexico. The parasitic organism burrows up from the ground with something not unlike reverse tree roots and then starts sprouting egg sacks and hostile creatures that seek to consume all. The Rainbow Team got called into respond to the threat (presumably this happened in a Rainbox Six Siege event I’m unaware of) and they were able to contain it, temporarily.
That’s where Rainbow Six Extraction starts as the parasites make a sudden return across four sites in the US, but this time, R.E.A.C.T. (Rainbow Exogenous Analysis and Containment Team – a special organisation formed in the aftermath of the New Mexico Outbreak) is there to confront it.
1-3 person teams are sent into the contaminated zones and tasked with extracting intel (and team members that got left behind in a stasis substance to keep them safe) which is used to find out more about this alien menace and to develop gear and tactics to combat them.
Playing a review version of the game before it was released made it abundantly clear to me that the game should indeed be played as a team. Sure, you can solo your way through it, but a large amount of the objectives are much easier, and more importantly, a lot more fun, to complete together with other people.
It was hard to find other reviewers and content creators online at the same time I usually play, but lucky some fellow local reviewers were also covering the game and it was fun to get to know each other a little better while teaming up against the alien threats.
But let’s start by giving an example of why the game is better played in team: if a fellow operator (or one you controlled in a previous failed attempt) gets downed, they get encapsulated in a stasis gel that keeps them safe from harm. When you return to this level, one of your objectives will be to free them from a tree-like growth that is slowly absorbing them.
To do this, one person must pull on the operator to break them free, while the other(s) focus on shooting the roots that are anchored to the wall and constantly fight back. Doing this alone is possible, but too much of a hassle and it just feels a lot better to be able to use voice-chat to give each other instructions and tackle the objective as a well-oiled machine.
Staying together is vital, as even the default Grunt type enemy can kill you in a few swings if they get close enough. On the flip side, most enemies can be taken out with a single well-aimed shot as well and I’ve got to say I like this duel glass-cannon balancing.
One final thing to mention is that the game rewards stealthy gameplay because you’ll easily be overwhelmed by the enemy numbers if you run through it guns blazing. Patiently moving forward, scanning the area and taking down enemies one by one has been the best approach for me. And it feels mighty satisfying.
There are two attempts to help find people to play with, the first is the inclusion in Xbox Game Pass, which is surely going to give the game a boost in the number of players checking it out in the first days, but you can also enable cross-play and team up with people on other platforms.
In one of my first successful online romps, I was lucky enough to encounter a fellow Belgian reviewer (in a random pairing even) who was playing on Playstation 5 and a game developer (who works on Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord) who played on PC:
For me, it was all smooth sailing on Xbox Series X, but some of the PS5 gamers I was paired with did mention having input lag or not being able to hear other players well over voice chat. Most likely this is something caused server-side so hard to evaluate and as I was never personally impacted, I won’t hold it as a strike against the game.
Slow but steady
There are 4 main regions in the game, each with three maps and a random selection of objectives every time you play. This random aspect does keep things fresh for a while and certain objects like planting tracers in egg pods require less planning than say taking down an Elite enemy without killing them (better pack some smoke or stun grenades).
Completing objectives and killings enemies grants your Operators XP, but these are only banked when you successfully extract from a zone. If you get “killed” your Operative will be MIA and will need to be rescued in the next run. Levelling your Operator gives them access to new weaponry or passive upgrades like more armour or faster movement.
It can be frustrating not to be able to play with your favourite character because they are MIA or because they only escaped with low health during the last run, but it does force you to play with the other Operators and I kind of need that push to come out of my comfort zone. With 18 Operators, there should be enough variation on offer, but I didn’t really find all of them to play that differently other than their unique power like scanning for enemies through walls or deploying a turret.
Successfully completing objectives not only progresses your character level, but you also reach new Milestones. You’ll get new REACT gear to experiment with (equipable items like revival kits or throwable explosives) and it unlocks new levels to play in.
I feel like I’ll probably keep playing the game until I’ve gotten most of the “story-content” done, but outside of a few cutscenes or dialogues you can trigger during levels by inspecting certain objects, there isn’t a lot of meat to the narrative. Normally I’d have a “How long to beat & complete” section at the end of this review, but I’m not sure yet of either. Progressing through the game has been a lot of trial and error, but I recognise that most of that is related to my skill at FPS.
Rainbow Six Siege is a 2015 title, so the series was due a visual upgrade and I have to say that Rainbow Six Extraction does not disappoint in this department: the textures are all detailed, the animations don’t look too clunky, especially considering how this is a multiplayer game and you spend most of it squatting and moving while crouched.
But above all, I really liked the growth that spawns on the surfaces if you leave the enemies alone for too long. It starts covering furniture, walls & ceiling and when walking on them, it slows you down. I’d been playing about 10 hours when someone I got teamed up with shot at the floor and I learned you can clean the area that way. Pretty cool-looking effect!
They do have an audio tell that gives you an idea of their location though and using a headset you could use the directional audio to pinpoint a friendly Operator to extract. Other than this, there isn’t really that much to talk about sound or audio wise, I don’t recall hearing anything that impressed me. The most important sound in the game is the voice-chat of your co-op partners after all.
There is a fun list of 42 achievements in Rainbox Six Extraction. It varies from the obvious grindy things like “complete 20 objectives in location X” to the more challenging ones like earning a score of 55000exp in a single run.
I always appreciate the ones that have you play in a specific manner though:
- Kill 5 Smashers with a Takedown
- Kill 75 sludges with Explosives
- Stun 100 enemies
…anything that kind of forces you to abandon your default playstyle for a while.
Overall, this looks like a fun and very doabel 1000/1000G.
Rainbow Six Extraction changes up the series’ formula and delivers a fun tactical co-op experience that will entertain you for a few hours but will eventually start feeling a bit too repetitive. Playing this with two friends will vastly improve your enjoyment however and it really does reward smart team play.
At the $39.99 asking price, you’re definitely getting your value out of it and as it’s a Day One Xbox Game Pass title, subscribers are in for an even better deal and should definitely check this out.
*Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction is available on PC, Xbox One , Xbox Series X|S, PS4 and PS5. Reviewed on Xbox Series X. Review Copy provided by Ubisoft.