I will fully admit from the beginning, I am a complete newbie when it comes to Rainbow Six Siege. I have obviously heard of the game but have never played a round of it in my life. But part of that is what really got me interested in Rainbow Six Extraction; similar gameplay but in a PvE environment sounds much more up my street than regularly getting my arse handed to me in a PvP setting. I will say this though: I still regularly got my arse handed to me in Rainbow Six Extraction… but was having an absolute blast at the same time.
Based off the time-limited game mode Outbreak in Rainbow Six Siege, Extraction introduces extra-terrestrial forces into Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy universe. Some may say that the overall series has jumped the shark, but Ubisoft argue it will introduce new players into the tactical shooter genre.
In Rainbow Six Extraction, a Russian space capsule has crash landed in the New Mexico city of Truth or Consequences (Google it, it’s a real place name). Inside was something peculiar and triggered an epidemic. Not long after, emergences of the same peculiar something appeared in New York, San Francisco, Alaska and more. A special task force known as Rainbow Exogenous Analysis and Containment Team (REACT) was set-up. You are a member of that team, tasked with visiting these emergence sites and trying to research and study this strange alien parasite.
At the start, only New York City is available to you. You can choose Quick Play to be alongside random online people or choose a specific location and jump in either solo or with your squad. Playing solo is definitely a viable option in Rainbow Six Extraction and, depending on your preferences, can be as much fun as teaming up with a full squad of three players.
Next, you choose your operator. At the start you have a choice from nine different ones, many of which crossover from Siege. More can be unlocked as you progress.
Your roster of operators feels very dynamic. After each incursion, your roster will update. If the operator you just used was badly injured, they may be out of action for a while. Worse, if you died before being extracted, that operator will be missing in action. You will need to go back in and rescue them if you want the XP that operator had on them. Fail to do that and they will be returned to you but in a worse state than when you sent them out.
Each operator has unique abilities and maybe one or two unique weapons, but considering you can equip unlocked REACT tech across them all, they don’t have the specialisations you would get in Rainbow Six Siege. They feel a bit more like different skins as opposed to completely varied characters. But this isn’t always a bad thing; you will need to be proficient in more than one of them so a bit of extra blurring between the lines helps that.
Incursions are split into three sub-zones, each with a unique objective of their own. The locations that you run through don’t change, so there will be familiarity there, but the objectives you face from playthroughs will vary your approach through them. As well as the aforementioned MIA Rescue, other objectives include Nest Tracking, Hunts, Biopsy, Specimen and more. Some of these are introduced to you in the VR Training tutorial but others you will only get a grasp of through actually playing them and developing your playstyle.
For example, when teaming up with friends it took us a good few runs to get our plan of action down. As Siege fans will know, going in guns blazing will rarely work. Our MIA Rescue operations were ending in failure for the first few tries until we got our teamwork in order.
Arguably, your main focus should initially be removing the nests in these missions; these will continually chug out enemies until destroyed. Then we made sure to find the Archean tree where our operator was being held. Then we blocked off all routes from the outside surroundings in case any enemies remained. Then finally we had one person pulling out the operator whilst the other two concentrated on destroying the tree’s tendrils. It was hardly a fool proof plan, but we started seeing greater successes after trying it.
At all times though, we never felt safe. Extraction has had six years of Siege gameplay balancing to refer back to, but this is one of the most balanced cooperative multiplayer games I have ever played. Even if it was me solo or in a group of three, the scales can be tipped either way with just the slightest mistake. Every incursion is tense as a result; you can take nothing for granted in Extraction.
On the subject of the Archeans, their designs do feel a little generic. Considering these are alien parasites, they still look very humanoid. They can be easily identified as non-human at least, but their designs aren’t nearly as alien as you may be hoping for.
You can choose to extract from an incursion at any point providing you reach the extraction pod. XP is earned for completing objectives, kills, teamwork and completing studies. Studies act as secondary objectives but can really help boost the XP you are receiving. Complete a series of three studies and you will unlock the next three and progression continues. They are unique to the cities you are in but can be carried over between locations within. As well as completing objectives you should absolutely focus on these. These are a far quicker way to generate XP if you are struggling to complete a full three-tier incursion.
All XP feeds into the Progression tab of the main menu. Here you get a detailed breakdown of where the XP is coming from – either operators completing objectives or through the studies – as well as what you are working towards. Hitting new milestones advances the story, unlocks new cities and tech upgrades, harder difficulties and some cosmetic items. You can take on new cities and locations as soon as they are unlocked but it isn’t recommended as you will be behind the difficulty curve. However, if you like seeing numbers tick up, progress bars and generally seeing how much you’ve accomplished, this Progression tab is a wet dream for you.
Higher difficulties are also best avoided until your operators are levelled up. These bring with them their own unique challenges such as Gateway Directive missions and Archean mutations. Mutations will add an extra challenge to your current run. These could be armoured nests, reduced visibility or worse. A Gateway Directive opens up a portal for operators to travel through and defeat a high-level enemy. And the higher the difficulty, the more chance of any of these appearing.
Manage to contain the breaches across the four cities and the endgame will open up to you. The Maelstrom Protocol is a weekly evolving challenge for operators that are up for a real challenge. These follow the same basic principle of the main gameplay but with additional objectives and obviously, tougher enemies. In fact, Rainbow Six Extraction has a healthy endgame with these, an additional difficulty level, specific combat and horde modes and crisis events. These all ramp up the number of enemies you will face to near unmanageable levels. But the sweet XP and unique loot may make them worthwhile.
Rainbow Six Extraction will also feature updates throughout the year. All we have for now is a key word: Spillover.
Given that Rainbow Six Extraction wasn’t given much chance in all the pre-release build-up, it is more fun than it has any right to be. There is a real rush of adrenaline with every incursion, a real sense of progression after each successful extraction and a real feeling of teamwork when playing in a squad. But it is perfectly viable as a solo game too, and this shouldn’t be overlooked. Whether you are a seasoned veteran of Siege or looking for your first foray into a tactical shooter such as these, Rainbow Six Extraction will not disappoint.
REACT first against the Archean threat in Rainbow Six Extraction on the Xbox Store
- Immensely well-balanced gameplay
- Perfectly playable in solo mode
- Real sense of progression
- Perfect for existing Siege players and newcomers
- Archean designs are a bit uninspired
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Ubisoft
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
- Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
- Release date - 20 Jan 2022
- Launch price from - £44.99