Rainbow Six Extraction is the first truly new game in the Rainbow Six series since Siege launched all the way back in 2015. Rather than being just another new multiplayer title, though, Extraction is all about co-op gameplay where players will team up to take down hordes of alien parasites that have invaded the world. And while this might sound like a wildly different game on paper, given the success of Rainbow Six Siege, Ubisoft decided with Extraction, at least in a gameplay sense, it didn’t want to stray too far away from the formula that it had already found success with. The resulting product is one that feels both like an enjoyable extension of Siege and one that is being held back a bit by its predecessor.
I was able to check out a few hours of Rainbow Six Extraction in a preview event that took place last month and I largely left with mixed feelings on the game. The main reason for this conflict is because I’m not sure that the gameplay mechanics found in Siege translate as well to the PvE style of play. For the most part, the co-op shooter genre is filled with titles like Left 4 Dead and Call of Duty’s various Zombies modes, all of which are very fast-paced and trigger happy. Conversely, Rainbow Six Extraction is largely a game about stealthing your way around a map to complete a given objective that you’ve been tasked with. And while this makes sense given that it’s the same way in which Siege operates, the style of play just isn’t as fun when looking to take down AI enemies as it is when squaring off against other players.
I think my biggest issue based on what I have played of Rainbow Six Extraction is this stealth-based gameplay. Maps in Extraction aren’t only filled with various aliens looking to take you down, but also nests that can burst open and continually spawn more foes that you’ll have to then deal with. Essentially, most corners of these maps are filled with alien creatures lying in wait to end your life in some manner. The game’s tutorial quickly teaches you a number of gameplay tactics (stealth kills, using drones to clear rooms, etc.) that you’ll need to use to prevent yourself from being overwhelmed, but none of these mechanics ever feel that satisfying.
Essentially, I found the most success in Rainbow Six Extraction when I was moving at a snail’s pace with my team through each map and using all the tools in my arsenal to ensure that I wasn’t letting loose a horde. While this plodding style of play led to me having more successful missions overall, it was also not that engaging on a moment-to-moment basis. The most pure fun I had with Extraction came when I was trying to mow down a litany of aliens one after another. Given how quickly I died in most of these instances, though, the implication was fairly clear that this is by no means how the game is meant to be played.
Speaking more to how Rainbow Six Extraction actually works, the game is structured in such a way that you’ll enter one of 12 different maps (spread across four different regions) to complete up to three different objectives. These objectives vary in their aim quite a bit. For example, one task might require you to lure a certain alien onto a platform in the pursuit of capturing, while another could ask you to eliminate a certain number of hives that are spread across a level. While three of these objectives are also given to you in each level, you never have to complete all of them in order to “win”. Instead, if you complete just one or two of them, you can choose to then extract (hence the title of the game) and net yourself some immediate XP to level up your character and unlock new gear. Completing all three objectives will obviously reward you with the most XP, but you also risk losing it all if you try to push too far.
What I really liked about this format in Extraction is that it tells you in advance what kind of situation you’ll be going into. Each objective that you’ll find in a given level is told to you before you ever lock-in your Operator. Doing so allows you to further strategize with your team and figure out who might be best to have in your squad, along with what weapons and equipment could be most worthwhile. The Operators found in Extraction are identical to those seen in Siege and they also happen to boast their typical unique abilities as well. Selecting someone like Tachanka for a mission that centers around more stealth-like tasks might be a bad call, but if you see that one objective will need you to defend yourself for a set period of time, you’ll find yourself wanting to pick him so that you can use his specialized turret. Creating a squad that you think is best fit for a given level is a huge part of Rainbow Six Extraction and it also means that you won’t want to keep using the same Operator repeatedly.
The best thing I can say about Rainbow Six Extraction is that it requires a lot of teamwork. Much like Siege, it’s a game where you really have to work together with your teammates to ensure that you’re carrying out your plan as a unit. If you try to do your own thing or stray too far away from your group, you’ll likely find yourself getting bombarded and downed in no time. Communication is key and when you do achieve a certain objective with no casualties, it feels satisfying. I can see Extraction being a game that close groups of friends will definitely want to give a go, but I have a hard time seeing it being just as enjoyable for solo players or those looking to squad up with randoms.
While I believe that longtime Siege players might find something to love here, many of the Rainbow Six gameplay mechanics don’t feel as rewarding when translated to a PvE game type. This very much feels like a game that will find certain niche audiences, but overall, I struggle to see Extraction being something that players will go out of their way to play when the same mechanics and systems feel much better in an already-existing product.
Rainbow Six Extraction is set to release later this month on January 20th and will be coming to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia. In addition, it will also be arriving on day one for Xbox Game Pass on both console and PC.