Review – Rainbow Six Extraction

It is no secret to anyone that Rainbow Six (and the Tom Clancy pseudo-brand as a whole) has had a fairly rough recent years. Each brand new game has pushed the franchise further and further away from its grounded roots. Rainbow Six Extraction might be the single most absurd deviation from the franchise’s origin, turning a once tactical shooter with political themes into a co-operative alien survival shooter. Despite the bonkers premise, did Ubisoft manage to score a hit with Extraction? Is it a good game despite its premise?

Destruction remains a core component in here.

The story in Rainbow Six Extraction is pretty thin, following on from the events way back in the throwaway outbreak event hosted in Siege, which featured an alien parasite crisis. In Extraction, the parasite’s spread has reached a global scale, and a new threat known as the Archeans have emerged. Team Rainbow forms the new REACT unit to help combat this alien threat, whilst developing a way to stop them for good. That’s about all you really need to know. You will occasionally get new cutscenes in between missions but they don’t really add anything to the core plot. You don’t get to see REACT or its operators grow. There’s no real chemistry between anyone. It was a missed opportunity to start developing these characters’ personalities outside of the flavour text approach from Siege

Rainbow Six Extraction is a three-player cooperative shooter with a big focus on stealth and tactics. Think of it as GTFO with Rainbow Six Siege‘s core gameplay, and a little bit more accessibility. Using the mechanics of Siege means that, of course, the core gameplay is actually excellent, with some great shooting, destruction and squad-centric gameplay. A bunch of operators are pulled over from Siege, and whilst not all of them managed to make the cut, the day one roster included in here is solid, with just about each operator filling a distinctive role. 

Your team of three gets dropped into a map to complete a variety of objectives as you push further. This will often involve killing Archaens, deploying explosives, or even undergo a boss fight that bases itself off one of the operators from Team Rainbow. The Archaens themselves are fun to fight, and I did really enjoy sneaking around and taking them out stealthily, but these fights eventually wear off out of a sheer lack of variety. Extraction‘s best moments occur when your best laid plans just completely fall apart and you are forced to adapt. In one instance, I was the only surviving member of my team, and instead of retreating I attempted to go in to at least extract my downed team members. I failed, of course, but it was a chaotic blast that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Weapons take a ridiculous amount of screen space, whether you’re hip firing or aiming down their sights.

Despite being primarily designed to be a co-operative game, Rainbow Six Extraction is also perfectly playable on your own if you desire so. It’s not quite as entertaining as playing with friends, which is to be expected, but the game does a good job at scaling its difficulty properly. It is better than playing in Quick Play, which leads to some very mixed results, with people often times just ignoring objectives, breaking stealth too early, and so on. Bear in mind, things get better as you progress and find more players with similar levels as to yours.

Surprisingly though, Extraction provides a unique progression system. As you complete rounds with an operator, they will gain XP that will not only level them up but go towards your overall global progression. Levelling up with each operator will grant them individual bonuses and weapons, whilst an overall progression allows you to unlock new universal gadgets, maps and cosmetics. Lose those operators, however, and all that XP will be temporarily removed. This will enable a rescue mission that has you going back into the field to extract them. Unfortunately, it’s not overly consequential, as even failing the rescue mission will add them back into the roster, giving you that XP back anyway.

Perhaps the most interesting feature when levelling up is unlocking entirely new modes. These challenging missions, known as Weekly Assignments and Maelstrom Protocols, provide this game’s “endgame” activities. My favourite of these so far has turned Extraction into a much more hardcore experience, removing tons of UI elements, introducing friendly fire, and more. It really made me question why some of these modes just aren’t available right from the getgo.

Maelstrom Protocol brings in a weekly rotating list of operators and a competitive style ranked system to force you to mix things up. Whilst these endgame missions end up being the best part of Extraction‘s core gameplay loop, having them attached to a weekly reset is a weird and frustrating limitation. I’d love to see a secondary hardcore mode added in the future, with more permanent consequences for failing with some more interesting challenges as well. 

Extraction’s rescues are fine, but nothing special.

Being a standalone expansion to Siege, the graphics are pretty much identical as well, just with some added flair that comes with the added complexity, alien themes and size to the levels. There’s plenty of detail in the maps, though the Archaens themselves just lack any exciting visual flair, especially when compared to the fantastically designed enemies in the outbreak event. Sound is also exactly the same as Siege, so if you liked it there, you will like it here. Weapons all sound superb, and hearing the Archaens through walls has a creepy effect to it. 

Rainbow Six Extraction is so much better than it had every right to be.  There’s some solid cooperative action to be had in here, but while I did have a blast with its modes, I don’t think the game has knocked it out the park… yet. There just needs to be a lot more of it, be it in terms of maps and readily available modes. With that being said, if you just get some friends together for a few scary rounds, you all will most likely have a good time. 

Graphics: 8.0

It does use the same core engine as Siege, albeit with some extra tinkering. Extraction still looks pretty good as a result. 

Gameplay: 8.5

The core mechanics of Siege are all present in a new, shiny, alien-themed skin.

Sound: 8.0

Much like with the graphics, if you have played Siege in the past, then you know what to expect in here.

Fun Factor: 7.0

Rainbow Six Extraction is a lot better than I could have ever expected, but it just doesn’t quite live up to its potential due to a severe lack of content. 

Final Verdict: 7.5

Rainbow Six Extraction is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC and Stadia.

Reviewed on PC with an RTX 2060, Ryzen 5 3600X and 16GB RAM