Also On: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Stadia
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Rainbow Six as a series has been running strong for over 20 years at this point. While many long-time fans may disagree, many would place the previous entry, Rainbow Six: Siege as a peak of quality. With this, you may expect that what you?ll get with Rainbow Six: Extraction would be, if nothing else, a high-quality shooter experience. Unfortunately in my time spent with the game, this is definitely not the case. From issues with difficulty, confusion within runs and map layout, enemy behavior and more, Extraction seems to be a new low point for the series.
Rainbow 6: Extraction sees you playing as many of the operators you may already be familiar with from Siege. You work together in (multiplayer only) teams of three against an alien threat that has emerged and engulfed large swathes of the United States. These enemies, the Arch?ans, evolved from the original parasite that existed in the Outbreak event that ran on Seige in 2018. By the beginning of the story in Extraction, they no longer require hosts and are self-sustaining. The story is pretty light on explaining things, seeming to mostly just exist as a reason for the game rather than to raise any intrigue.
Each mission follows a like pattern, being a 3 stage map, each separated by an airlock that contains a small number of resupply materials. Each of the 3 areas has its own randomized objective for you to work through, which are entirely optional. Each successive zone?s objective is worth more exp than the previous, and you bank the exp by extracting from any of the 3 given areas. Extracting is in my opinion far too easy, just requiring you to step on a platform and wait 3 seconds to leave. I think it?s a missed opportunity for a holdout objective as you wait for the pickup helicopter to arrive, but I think that?s hardly the worst miss that?s had in Extraction.
What I find most intriguing about R6: Extraction is that the Outbreak event that ran in Siege was, in my opinion, superior to this entire game in pretty much every capacity. Despite the successful and enjoyable Outbreak event, they somehow were not able to transfer this experience cleanly into a full-fledged standalone title. The event was hard, engaging, and unique. It kept you on your toes, watching out for the constant hive of enemies with your friends, constantly being surprised as you crept through dark corridors and took everything down, or defended an objective.
Meanwhile, the general gameplay and objectives in Extraction pretty much maintain a consistent level of ?breezing right through? on every mission and run I experienced. Feeling like enemies were half the time non-existent, and the other half so deaf that you could just sprint right by them. On a handful of goes I had, it honestly felt like the world veered on empty; the Arch?ans seemingly deciding to just move on and let the Rainbow operators do whatever was needed. I started the game by sneaking through rooms carefully, but it took all of about 15 minutes to realize that enemies are so sparse and unaware, you?re better off just sprinting full bore through every map and headshotting any enemy you may encounter. Even unsuppressed weapons hardly do more than peak the curiosity of enemies in other rooms, and it lets you clearly know when any enemy is within 20 feet of you with an arrow on your hud, even through walls. This basically guarantees that you can just eke out of the way of anything that may be investigating assuming you want to maintain stealth.
Some objectives would spawn a more constant stream of enemies coming at you, but the stream often felt like more of a trickle, being 1 or 2 every 30 seconds or so. Defense is made easy because of this, so you very rarely end up taking a hit, which is fortunate because of the way damage works in Extraction. When you take any damage, you are stuck with that damage. Even on the easiest difficulty, a single hit would often take away a third of your health bar and recovery is hardly available other than in limited quantities from certain operators. Your health does not regenerate automatically either, so enemies getting the occasional cheap shot from behind can end up knocking you down before you even realize what?s happening. Any damage taken is permanent between runs as well, so if you get hurt in a mission, your operator maintains that damage if you want to take them on a follow-up mission. Going down in a mission leaves the operator permanently unavailable until you go and recover them as someone else. This also applies in the event that a teammate steps through an airlock door and you don?t make it in time. Your elite operator will decide to just give up and collapse on the floor as soon as that door closes, even if they?re 10 feet from an extraction pad. For your wounded, playing as other characters and completing runs will slowly recover them, but it is a pain when you just want to work on leveling up your favorite operator(s).
Extraction?s one possible saving grace seems like it could be the Maelstrom Protocol mode. From all the info I could gather regarding this mode, it seems like exactly what would make the game actually enjoyable. Enemy counts and difficulties are ramped up, getting harder as you play and objective counts are tripled. You are stuck with a small, select roster of operators, supposedly hand-picked by the devs each week. The video documentation on this mode shows a lot of promise and I could see myself enjoying it quite a bit. The problem is that this mode is locked at level 16. Level 16 is quite far into the game, and well past the point at which you would?ve played every level in the game half 4 or 5 times.
All of these factors combined make up a pretty mediocre ?zombie? survival game. Every new mission follows the exact same formula as the last, and Extraction wants you to replay zones repeatedly to level up, so you?ll also be playing the same areas repeatedly until you unlock others and repeat. It is all very much an idea that holds a lot of promise but doesn?t deliver anything extremely good. Instead of mixing it up here and there, it?s just 20 areas that all operate identically. 3 rooms, separated by airlocks with 3 entirely optional missions and 3 extraction points. Instead of expounding on the idea of the Outbreak event and figuring out how to improve on the formula, they just took the formula that worked once and pasted it on almost two dozen maps. At some point, you realize you?ve just done the exact same things over and over, the only difference being the scenery. The missions and story don?t have much in the way of depth or linearity and allow you to choose any area to play a mission in and then run in to pull the arm of a man stuck in an alien tree for 90 seconds straight (not an exaggeration) for the 9th
I had the chance to check out Rainbow Six: Extraction with Austen for his review, and wanted to add my brief thoughts here at the end. I was a bit less forgiving that Austen was; Extraction is unfinished, poorly realized, and downright disrespectful to the player and their time. This is the most bare bones experience I have played in years, and could compete with Anthem in an ?Overpromise/Underdeliver? competition. As a pretty big fan of Rainbow Six myself, I expected quite a lot more from this game. What we got instead is little more than an offshoot gamemode that belongs in a free weekend attached to Rainbow Six: Siege. The only thing it has going for it is the performance. I was able to run the game in incredibly smooth 4K, 60 FPS on my PC. I can?t speak to how the console will perform, but on PC at least, it is not very taxing.
The price point being $40 is not enough, and the free with GamePass option might still not be cheap enough. At some point you have to assign proper value to your own time, because Extraction will not. There are too many good games out there that manage to do this better. If you are on PC, play GTFO instead. If you are only interested in GamePass games? Play Aliens: Fireteam Elite. Do you want tight Rainbow Six gameplay and tactics? Stick with Siege. There are no upsides to Extraction that outweigh the negatives here, and I cannot suggest it to anyone in its current state.
Note: Ubisoft provided us with a Rainbow Six Extraction PC code for review purposes.