Give it up to Ubisoft - the company could never be accused of creating the same game over and over again. Think you know what Far Cry is? Here's a pile of weird DLC for you. Think Assassin's Creed is too linear? How about a series of gigantic open worlds? Hell, they changed up Ghost Recon so much between Wildlands and Breakpoint that the community flipped out and they had to end up changing it back. The point is, Ubisoft is perfectly content to flip the script, coming out swinging with some weirdo take on an existing franchise that rocks the entire gaming community back on its heels.
And so it goes with Rainbow Six. After creating a gaming phenomenon with Rainbow Six Siege - garnering an army of dedicated players that persists after five years - Ubisoft has dipped it's team-based shooter into a puddle of weirdness and pulled out something utterly unexpected. Sure, it's a multiplayer shooter, but whereas Siege made its name with four-on-four competitive matches, Rainbow Six Extraction tasks players with creeping around in groups of three and fighting aliens. Or humans infected by an alien virus. Or something like that.
I haven't played Siege, though I am familiar enough with the game from YouTube clips and the general osmosis one gains from hanging around with gamers. As such, I had some expectations for what to expect out of Extraction, which were all immediately dashed. I had no idea going into this game just how tense and difficult it would be - and I mean that in the best possible way.
The push and pull in Rainbow Six Extraction is extraordinary. You start the game with several operators to play as (more are unlocked along the way). Each has their own weapons and ability set, So you will quickly settle on a few favorites. The problem is, Extraction has no problem taking them away from you. If you fall in battle, your operator is wrapped in a grody cocoon, and there they will stay until you can make it back to that environment to save them. Further, if you finish a level on your last legs with just a few hit points left, your operator will be put on the injured list, forcing you to choose someone else to play as while they recover. This all adds up to me being far more cautious than I would be in most other gaming situations.
I'm used to the kinder, gentler Ubisoft, which allows me to build up my characters into near-immortal wrecking-balls over a nice, slow gaming curve. I'm not accustomed to Ubisoft games that kill my operators almost immediately on the lowest difficult - and then refuse to give them back, sneering instead that I should come and try to get them. Extraction laughed right in the face of my run-and-gun tendencies, smacking me down again and again, all the while intoning "No, fool, you will sneak."
The gameplay flow of Rainbow Six Extraction is so unique that I can say definitively that I've never seen anything like it in video games before. Everything comes in sets of three - you can have up to three players to a team, taking on up to three missions in each level, of which there are three levels in each setting. Now let me break that down a little bit so it makes sense.
Players can go at Extraction solo, or team up in groups of two or three. There is no opposing team, this is strictly co-op PVE affair, but don't let that dissuade you from jumping into the fray. This is a game that takes just as much teamwork as any PVP game on the market.
Upon deployment, your mission goals are revealed. Every level has three subsections, and there is a corresponding goal for each subsection. So, for example, you will be attempting to rescue a lost soldier in the first section, implanting sensors into nests in the second section, and hunting down an alpha bad guy in the third. The thing is, you don't have to succeed at all - or any, really - of these mission goals to have a successful run. Even if you fail at a goal in one section, it is up to you and your team whether you push ahead into the next section or bug out and start over again. It is absolutely acceptable to push forward, so long as you think you can survive. Of course, not everyone agrees on that issue, which where some of the more interesting conversations take place.
Given the above example, let's say that you do rescue the soldier in the first area. You then have the choice of whether to make your way to a withdrawal point and bank all of the XP you have earned for your success, or move forward to an airlock and continue on to the mission with the nests. Sure, most gamers not in the situation would say "Let's gooooo!", but what if you only have five hit points left, and your teammates are fully healthy? What if you are playing with people that can't be relied upon to pick up your carcass and haul you back to safety? You know if you get left behind, you will lose access to the operator you are playing as for the foreseeable future. Are you still screaming "Let's gooooo"? Because I'm sure as hell not.
So yes, Rainbow Six Extraction is best played cautiously, with a team that is willing to creep around. I have heard of some teams that are going in and clearing the entire level of enemies before even attempting the level's goals, and if you are on a strong enough team to pull that off before the timer runs out (each mission starts you with fifteen minutes, just to add that much more tension to the game), more power to you. But I imagine most teams will meets somewhere in the middle, clearing out rooms as they progress towards their goals, and then shrieking at each other when everything goes to hell.
I've also found Extraction to be very engaging in single player. I've been waking up early and running a few missions every day before work by myself, and I really like the idea of creeping around on my own, taking down baddies and keeping things as quiet as I can manage. The tension in Extraction is thick as pudding, and even more so when you can't crack a joke or goof on a buddy. I've also run some missions as a duo with my son, and that is its own form of blood-pressure-raising fun. I'm not certain if Extraction cranks back the difficulty at all when you have less than a full team. It certainly doesn't feel like it, leaving single or duo player teams at a delicious deficit. Extraction demands your full attention under the best of circumstances; having less than three players forces you to really step up your game.
The only real drawback I can see to Rainbow Six Extraction (I enjoy the game immensely, if you hadn't figured that out yet) is that the content seems a little light. There are some endgame activities for the most devout, but even dedicated players will be able to see and do everything in about 15-20 hours, which then leaves two ways to spend your time - trying out new strategies, and the grind for new weapons and cosmetics.
As a relative Rainbow Six neophyte, I'm not super interested in grinding every single operator to the maximum level, though I can understand the appeal for folks that are into such things. The constant drip of XP and levels ticking up are enough to keep me going forward for a while, even when I'm not invested, but eventually my intellect kicks in and reminds my lizard brain that this really isn't our jam. Of course, this is Ubisoft, so players can likely expect a healthy amount of content to continue popping into Extraction for quite a while. I'm sure there will be season passes and DLCs and expansions for months to come.
Rainbow Six Extraction is a surprisingly good time, just weird enough that people like me that don't really enjoy shooters will still be righteously entertained. While it is may not gain the immortality that Siege has, few games do, and there is enough innovative fun here to ensure a good time for dedicated trios for a while to come.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Howdy. My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids. During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories. I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 and PS VR2 to my headset collection. I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.
My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then. I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep. Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, Series S, PS5, PS4, PS VR2, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan. While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.
When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host the Chronologically Podcast, where we review every film from various filmmakers in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.
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