Overall - 95%
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Extraction is one of the most intense and exciting co-op experiences available today. It's an incredible addition to the Siege universe and one that stands alone as a fantastic demonstration of innovation in an otherwise stagnating genre.
Originally revealed in 2019 as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Quarantine, several delays and a brand new title later have brought us Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction. This Ubisoft Rainbow Six Siege spin-off looks to offer fans of intense, strategic co-op action as an alternative way to enjoy the Siege universe.
Extraction is loosely based around a special, limited-time event that was available in Siege called Outbreak. Originally described as Ubisoft’s answer to the massively popular Call of Duty: Zombies, Extraction does take some obvious cues from previous horde-style games but this is far from your mindless horde shooter. There is a level of tactics and strategy involved that seldom sees the light of day in today’s AAA releases.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction Review
Rainbow Six Extraction follows the story of REACT (Rainbow Exogenous Analysis and Containment Team) after Rainbow HQ formed the elite team and launched Operation Outbreak in response to an extraterrestrial threat. An unidentified Russian Soyuz capsule crash landed in the city of Truth or Consequences, and began infecting civilians with an unknown pathogen, later designated as the Chimera Parasite. The parasite twisted and mutated all it infected, spreading to different regions across the globe. The mutated civilians, now known as Archaeans, mutated into a variety of different forms, each possessing different powers and abilities.
The Extraction story doesn’t really break any new ground, but it’s delivered fantastically. Various cutscenes throughout the game offer deeper insight into the Chimera Parasite and how the REACT force is responding to the threat, tackling the Archaeans in multiple locations including New York, San Francisco, and Alaska. Fans of Rainbow Six Siege will enjoy performances from some of the games most popular characters as Ash, Thermite, Doc, and Tachanka play vital roles in the forming and commanding of the REACT force.
I have to admit, I didn’t approach Rainbow Six Extraction with a lot of enthusiasm. While I understand the appeal to the horde-mode style games, I find the repetition and lack of strategic depth really off-putting, but to put Extraction into that same category would be a huge disservice to the games core design. Extraction is not a horde shooter; it is so much more.
Each mission begins by selecting a hot-zone and then creating a team of up to three players consisting of any of the 16 Operators available in the game. Each Operator is unique in the equipment they can carry, the abilities they bring into combat, and their stats such as speed and armor. This is the first layer of tactical thought as players carefully decide on a combination of Operators that will work well to combat the specific challenges of that hot-zone.
There are a huge variety of mission objectives, randomly generated each time you enter a mission, adding both a high level of replay value and a rewarding level of difficulty to each run. You could be rescuing a trapped VIP, gathering intel on specific enemy types, luring and capturing an elite enemy for scientific studies, each brings its own challenge and approach and every mission consists of three objectives spread across three areas. You will need to decide with your team on the best approach to each scenario. Some of the missions will greatly benefit a stealthier approach, while other objectives force more aggressive tactics. One Operator may excel in a specific objective but struggle in others. Careful planning and gathering of intelligence, especially on higher difficulties, is the difference between success and failure.
Of course, all the careful planning in the world can’t prepare you for everyone’s favorite friend or random. That one guy that cares not for stealth but instead wants to shoot everything in sight. Ubisoft has done an incredible job at designing the levels, enemies, and extraction mechanics to encourage gameplay that is miles away from the horde-style many are expecting. It’s far closer to a SWAT experience, with each Operator needing to carefully plan and coordinate their actions to avoid detection.
Enemies and hazards are randomly placed each playthrough so the exact approach will always change, but the core aspects are the same. You’ll want to take down enemies as efficiently as possible, with a quick shot to a weak point or a smoke grenade to cover an up-close takedown. Most, if not all, of the enemies you encounter have the ability to alert nearby enemies and nests, and that’s when shit gets real, real fast.
Once a nest has been alerted, these gross postule-like growths on the wall, they begin hatching out enemies, and they won’t stop. The usual response to a failed stealth scenario in games is to either flee or bunker down in a corner and ride off the wave. Fleeing works, sometimes, but a growth on the floor called Sprawl, slows Operators that touch it, and bunkering down will fail nearly every time. This forces you and your allies to venture into the fray, to fight through the frontline of enemies and seek out the nests to stop the enemies respawning. It’s a simple concept, but it has a profound impact on how the game is played and how you need to respond to different situations.
It is always immediately after these “oh shit” moments that you need to make a choice. Do you carry on, moving forward to the next sub-zone or do you extract and live to fight another day? Extracting gives you a huge bonus to the experience points and rewards earned but more importantly, it lets you use the Operator in future excursions. If you fail to extract and your Operator falls, they are encased in a cocoon-like foam that protects them from infection but renders them incapacitated. The only way to retrieve an Operator is to launch a mission into that very same area to try and rescue them.
It’s less like Call of Duty: Zombies and more like the twisted but very terrestrial nature of The Last of Us, but with an extraterrestrial twist.
If you succeed, fantastic; the Operator is returned and can be used again. If you fail, you will lose a huge portion of the Operator’s XP, which in turn reduces your overall experience points level. This can quickly snowball into you and your allies having several Operators trapped in various missions, drastically reducing your resources and chances of success. This combination of mechanics and decisions creates a truly intense atmosphere that is both rewarding and engaging from start to finish. While the initial levels with low level Operators is a struggle, it soon becomes routine and even solo you can knock out missions with minimal threat, however, up that difficulty a bit and the rewards, the intensity, the risk, it gets crazy.
One of the backbone elements of the entire Extraction experience are Study objectives. Maps contain unique objectives called Studies that players are free to complete or completely ignore. There’s approximately 27 Study objectives on the main maps, each divided into categories of three. While initially these serve as a background tutorial, tasking you with doing simple things like pinging enemies or getting weak point kills, they evolve to offer a far greater level of challenge and add greatly to the overall tension and excitement each mission brings.
On our last run we had to rescue my favorite Operator from the alien threat, but it was hidden behind the third stage of the mission, sometimes a challenging feat if you’re going in with just one or two players. We managed to complete the first two objectives but constant enemy ambushes and some failing stealth tactics left us in a bit of a state. Minimal health, lacking ammo, the easy choice was to extract, but at that same time, I had a Study objective that required me to extract from the third area of a mission. The very core concept of Extraction is a risk vs. reward system and this seemingly simple set of background objectives just pushes that tension to new heights.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction is one of the most intense and exciting co-op experiences available today. It’s an incredible addition to the Siege universe and one that stands alone as a fantastic demonstration of innovation in an otherwise stagnating genre.
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