When author Tom Clancy sold his naming rights to Ubisoft, he couldn’t have anticipated it appearing on a game about an alien infestation. And yet, that’s precisely the premise of Rainbow Six Extraction. The latest entry in this long-running military series retains the familiar tactical, team-based gameplay but replaces terrorists and online opponents with an otherworldly threat.
The Chimera parasite has spread across the United States, infesting familiar landscapes with thick grime, bulbous vegetation and humanoid creatures called Archæans (Archies). You and two friends form a squad, load up and head into containment zones to complete random objectives of escalating difficulty.
Rainbow Six Extraction uses the same tactical gameplay as popular shooter Rainbow Six Siege, with the same playable Operators, weapons and unique abilities. And so, Extraction should feel instantly familiar to anyone versed in the well-regarded multiplayer experience. But it’s the shift from real-world opponents to AI enemies that ultimately lowers the stakes and skews the thrills.
In Extraction, you and your friends select from 12 locations spanning New York penthouses and police stations to Alaskan research facilities and missile silos to complete up to 3 objectives at a time.
Each time you visit a location, and you will be visiting them all many times over, the game randomly selects your objectives to complete in succession, and each becomes more difficult than the last. We count 14 objectives total, covering things like destroying enemy nests, rescuing VIPs and taking down boss-like enemies. The variety on offer is good, but it does feel repetitive, especially when new locations are only unlocked after you’ve spent time levelling up.
The most exciting objectives occur later in the game and involve your squad jumping to another dimension to take on shape-shifting Archæans who mimic the likeness and abilities of your Operators. These missions are brutal but also the most compelling of the lot.
Stealth is the key to success. Archæans lurk behind every corner and come running at the sound of gunfire. A successful run involves communication with your teammates and dispatching Archies as quietly and efficiently as possible.
Tension escalates as you push your luck through the objectives. See, you can exfiltrate after completing one or two of the goals and reap some XP for your efforts. Or, the squad can stick around aiming to complete all three for bigger rewards, only to fail and receive nothing.
It’s a fun risk vs reward twist that can quickly end with downed Operators who must be carried to the exfiltration point or disappear from the roster until you’ve returned to the map and completed a successful rescue.
Each location feels like it would be well-suited to a multiplayer experience like Siege, with multiple levels, destructible walls and floors and plenty of opportunities to race the familiar Siege drone between rooms for scoping out enemies in advance.
However, the close resemblance to Rainbow Six Seige is both a strength and weakness of Extraction. Borrowing the tight gunplay, Operators and gadgets feel like a no-brainer, being a suitable way to leverage off of its success and appeal to the existing fanbase. And Extraction is satisfying in its own right when completing objectives with real-world teammates.
But dispatching an AI enemy with a headshot can never reach the sense of accomplishment that comes from downing real-world opponents and completing objectives in multiplayer.
Extraction can’t escape this comparison, especially not when it actually began as a time-limited mode in Siege.
So Rainbow Six Extraction started life under the name Outbreak. It was an exclusive event from 2018 that proved popular enough that Ubisoft deemed it worthy of a standalone release. A few name changes and a real-world pandemic later see this mode relaunched with the increasingly common game as a service model.
Behind the oozing and intense alien threat is a grind for XP that doesn’t pay off in any meaningful way. Each of the 18 playable Operators has their own level cap to reach, which unlocks additional weapons, attachments and cosmetics along the way. But an efficient squad should have worked through each of the 12 locations and many unlockables within 10 hours or so.
Ubisoft promises weekly missions, seasonal events, and there’s endgame content called The Maelstrom Protocol, a ranked mode with exclusive rewards for scratching that competitive itch. But at launch, Rainbow Six Extraction doesn’t have the staying power of Seige or other co-op shooters like Destiny and The Division.
Rainbow Six Extraction is a strange one. Its tactical gameplay helps it stand out from other co-op shooters, but its close resemblance to Rainbow Six Seige means it resides in the shadow of a superior game. Regardless, there’s a lot of fun to have with two friends. Just don’t expect it to last for as long as other games in the genre.
Rainbow Six Extraction is available now for PC, PlayStation and Xbox platforms. Each copy includes a Buddy Pass, allowing you to invite two friends to play for free for 14 days. Extraction is also available as part of Xbox Game Pass. With all these ways to play for free, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t check it out.
The writer received a copy of the game courtesy of the publisher