I’m having a headache with Rainbow Six: Extraction. This sci-fi FPS from Ubisoft Montreal feels like it’s going in multiple directions, trying to appeal to multiple crowds. Its hallmark is flourishing, a passion that goes into it for a long time, but is a bit of a letdown where it matters. Extraction is certainly fun, but it’s hard to ignore its obvious problems.
For those of you who don’t know, Rainbow Six: Extraction is based on a pre-existing and pretty good multiplayer first-person shooter called Rainbow Six: Siege – this game Attracts a die-hard community thanks to an engaging character-based experience that doesn’t hold your hand at all. One bullet to the head or a few to the chest and you’re dead; misplaced traps or a quick glance through the door during a tense mission and it’s game over.
What Ubisoft Montreal did with Extraction was basically taking Siege’s foundation — the gunplay, the engine, and some operators — and building a new game around it. A game without PvP, but with a brand new customization system, several different locations with many tainted locations, a redesigned operator kit and aliens. If nothing else, it ensures that if you feel at home while peeking in a corner while using the Siege, you will feel at home here too.
You, alone or in a squad of up to three other players, must venture into territories contaminated by the Archaean (the name of the creepy mold monster you’ll encounter) throughout the United States. You must complete some random objectives, including quietly dismantling a disturbing alien lair, planting bombs and defending it, or eliminating an elite enemy. Either complete those objectives – or get heavily chewed up by the enemies you encounter – and then you can head back to base, where you can earn experience points, both for your character and overall progression level.
As your characters level up, they unlock new guns and skills that alter their abilities. Sometimes these are simple – reduce damage taken, or increase how many healing darts the Doc can carry at a time. Other times, they’re fun new modifiers, such as Sledge’s ability to charge up his sledgehammer attack and use it to stun certain enemy types. As for your progress level, this is essentially a tracker of your overall progress in the game – unlocking new operators, locations, gadgets, and eventually end-game modes like quests and Vortex Protocol.
As far as the game loop goes, it’s a pretty engaging game. At lower levels, you can break in with just about any gun and gear you want, blasting aliens like a lunatic. On higher difficulties, you do need to consider which operators and gear will work best. While initially I didn’t see the point of scouting the area ahead, information about what dangers lurking in each room (and how best to head towards them) became invaluable in the game. It worries me that in a PvE game like Extraction, you lose the benefit of taking time to progress slowly, but I’m glad to find that my concerns are unfounded.
To fans of the series, however, it may not come as a surprise that this isn’t the kind of game you play when you’re alone — though it’s your choice. Solo, the experience is passable; you can take the plunge and complete these missions, complete all objectives with no problem, and earn decent XP. This approach starts to fall apart as you get into challenging content.
For one, while the game does a good job of tackling the difficulty of the mission as it relates to the density of enemies and how many creepy crawlers throw at you at once, cracks sometimes start to appear. Make bomb defenses – you have to defend a location for about two minutes as the enemy rushes towards you in wave after wave. As a team, you can fortify all the walls and prepare for attacks with clear funnel points – both beautiful and tactical! However, if you alone have only three available wall reinforcements, you will often find yourself lacking the tools to do this. On higher difficulty, this can ruin the run.
When these runs do go wrong, you may not even be able to evacuate safely. In this case, your operator is MIA and needs to be rescued. This is a serious issue, all XP your character earns in progression levels will be cancelled and risk being permanently lost unless you hurry back and bring them home. When I first heard about this, I was blown away! It’s a unique twist, something special that adds some bells and whistles to the loop.
However, it’s a bit bland. If you lose a valuable operator on a high difficulty mission, you can enter the mission on the easiest difficulty and rescue them easily. This turned what was supposed to be a really stressful situation into homework, diverting ten minutes from a task I really wanted to play with. It doesn’t sound like a masochist, but I’m playing Rainbow Six; the game is expected to be punished. Force me back into those harder difficulties (or make it scale with the operator level), limit the gadgets I can carry around when the operator is an MIA; do something that makes me sweat, not sigh.
Each character also has different roles to play to their strengths, but as a solo player you often feel like you lack the tools you’re good at. Take Tachanka for example – I’m happy to report to him that he’s back here with his old LMG. He’s great at defending points on the map, but his clumsy movements can feel slow and frustrating if you have to stealthily knock out enemies to keep going. It’s like playing a game of blackjack with a card in your hand – of course you can still win some chips, but there are certain rounds where you don’t feel ready to succeed.
In a squad, the game showed all its strengths. A well-structured team will allow you to subtly break through and clear the map room by room, buzzing forward to point out more vicious enemies, and then working together to take them down before they cause any problems. On harder content, you’ll get the intense experience that the best R6 games are known for.
Let’s start talking about those Archeans, the alien parasites you’re about to tackle or pass through. I have two views on this topic. On the one hand, in a dank college apartment, the sprawling black organic material that covers the room like black mold is a great way to blend in with a typical Rainbow Six city environment. I especially love the nests of these bright red pulsating cysts and how everything seems to squirm and squirm when you warn the enemy. Even better, if you remind the Achaeans, the black slime quickly spreads from the lair, smearing everything with sludge and slowing you down. If nothing else, the game does a good job of promoting the aesthetic of the parasitic invasion.
However, that’s a big deal, however, I feel like the game doesn’t go far enough in this angle. This is especially true of the numerous enemies you face during your missions. Sometimes they nail it with particularly unique bloaters and smashers – while other designs can feel a little bland. Even if what these enemies do is funny, you can only show me upright slender human figures before my eyes start to cover. In my opinion, the difference between Grunt and Spiker should be more pronounced than a slightly different head and barbed hand. A further injection of color, or adding some extra limbs, could go a long way here.
It’s a little frustrating because the team behind Rainbow Six: Extraction has shown that they can create some really cool visuals in this setting with the environments you go through. Some of the levels are dotted with these incredibly cool contraptions, like a monster floating in a pod in the heart of Alaska Labs bordering on Resident Evil, or giant humanoid figures popping out of the walls and merging in a twisted way Aliens and human life. The game can be compelling and scary when needed, I just wanted to expand it to the regular enemies you encounter.
Accompanying this newly discovered Primordial Era is the legend…too many legends. Each challenge you complete comes with a small excerpt about the parasite; there’s a full codex full of interesting tidbits about operators, quests, and the primal creatures you encounter. The game goes a long way in humanizing the three operators (especially Ash, Mira, and Thermite), who often act as voices of encouragement or instruction during missions. The infusions of the characters are few and far between, but the cutscenes are a nice touch and visually gorgeous for the narrative glue that holds the different areas together.
This of course brings me to the Proteans, who are the bosses in Rainbow Six: Extraction. Through these, the game gets so close to accepting a setting that puts players into singularities contained on the map to counter the archaic twisted operator duplication. “Finally,” I gasped when I saw a strange slimy organic sludge (I now call it Slimy Sledge) sprayed into the alternate reality I found myself in. “Now we can see some properly weird stuff.” Strange stuff must be out there, overdose! The slimy sled shoots waves of light from his hammer, and he teleports behind you to send a huge explosion of blood and slime around him. It feels like this is a moment when the team can really go crazy.But it’s sparse, it’s so so sparse.
That and more is lost in Rainbow Six: Extraction’s core balancing act, the critical cargo the game sheds as it walks the tightrope between its tactical military FPS roots and the sci-fi adventure it has embarked on. The game has removed most of the weapon customization, limiting it to choosing what sights to use and whether to wear a silencer or other options that increase damage. It’s a false choice, a way to make a binary decision – loud or quiet – to be more involved. On the altar of this sci-fi work, the ropes up or down the building are also sacrificed, and if the game accepts with both hands the inherent quirkiness of the decision, it might also find it worthwhile.
Will doing so cause Rainbow Six’s existing fan base to roll their eyes? Maybe — but if the game already has aliens destroying the Statue of Liberty and a singularity that teleports you to another time or dimension that’s likely to be an epic boss fight, you might as well go ham.
I’m also worried about the longevity of the game. Rainbow Six: Siege has inherent staying power through its PvP nature, where people stick around and compete for higher ranks, and the aforementioned quests and the Maelstrom Protocol with weekly modifiers are things I don’t think people stick with.
Enter Game Pass, which offers games to anyone with a subscription, and the future looks brighter for Rainbow Six: Extraction. Frankly, the idea of paying $40 or $45 for a game is a long shot for many would-be players, but owning a month at the low cost of £10.99? Well, you’re starting to sound more tempting now. Even better is that Ubisoft allows Rainbow Six: The Extracted Buddy system – it allows those who own the game to invite up to two of their friends to play, starting a two-week countdown when accepted, and ending the trial when done. Free games? two full weeks? Yes, I can see a lot of friends who are willing and able to tackle this game for a while, and I’m sure some of them will be happy to buy it afterward.
So overall, all things considered, is Rainbow Six: Extraction a good game? Yes, it doesn’t matter. It’s not quite enough in some places for my taste, it has lost some of the identity that makes rainbow six games unique, but if you have a few friends who are curious about it, then you have A blast jumps in. It retains the slow and methodical gameplay that is so addicting for a certain player, so I have no doubt that this game will remain a weekly adventure for a community somewhere. Whether it can retain that player base is something we have to keep an eye on.