Ubisoft stopped basing its Tom Clancy-branded titles off of the late author’s storylines a long time ago, but several recurring themes found in Clancy’s books, such as espionage and international conflict, have always been at the forefront of these games. The same can’t be said for Rainbow Six Extraction, however. Being a co-op survival-horror shooter, it’s a large departure from not only the Rainbow Six series – one of the few Clancy games directly based on a novel by the author – but also Ubisoft’s Clancy franchise in general.
That said, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. Extraction takes a pretty original approach to the co-op zombie shooter genre that feels satisfying to play, but it wears out its welcome a little too fast to be memorable.
What Is It?
Extraction is a spin-off of Rainbow Six Siege that pits the game’s various operators against waves of aliens. At first glance, it seems similar to other co-op shooters like Left 4 Dead and Killing Floor, but unlike those titles, Extraction encourages a more tactical approach to combat. More often than not, you’re better off sneaking through each of the game’s levels, rather than going in guns blazing.
Extraction’s matches – dubbed “Incursions” – are split into three acts, each of which has its own randomized objective for you to fulfill. These can range from simply eliminating a few enemies to extracting endangered allies. As you rank up, you’ll unlock new modes, maps, as well as more equipment for your operators.
Why Should I Care?
The biggest draw here is the tactical gameplay. Triple-A stealth games aren’t exactly common these days, but Extraction feels damn close to one. Every successful stealth takedown, silenced headshot, and distraction deployed made me feel like a tactical genius. The best thing I can say about this title is that, for me, it evoked nostalgia of trying to ghost through levels in the vintage Tom Clancy titles, such as Splinter Cell or Ghost Recon, and that wasn’t exactly something I was expecting from this game.
Gameplay-wise, Extraction is near identical to Rainbow Six Siege, so fans of Ubisoft’s competitive shooter should feel right at home here. Many operators from Siege return as well, each of which serves their own distinct purpose during matches. Personally, I preferred playing as recon-oriented characters like Pulse and Lion, whose abilities can easily detect enemies, allowing me to call out their locations to my teammates.
One thing this game excels at is forcing you to branch out and try different characters. If you die in the field, your operator will be captured by aliens, and subsequently dubbed MIA; you then won’t be able to play as the lost operator until you rescue them in a later match. This unique mechanic not only forces you to get used to playing as a few different operators, but it also adds a layer of tension to each match played. When playing Left 4 Dead, I can simply retry levels should I die. But in Extraction, I’ve had to adapt to entirely different playstyles after losing certain operators. This added tension made each victory taste that much sweeter, but sadly, that taste always quickly faded away.
While the game is, by all accounts, a ton of fun to play, especially if you’re teaming up with friends, Extraction suffers heavily from an awfully-paced progression system. It’s much like Halo Infinite’s in that the most effective way to achieve new ranks, known as “milestones,” is by completing battle pass-style objectives, referred to as “studies.” These typically consist of several mundane tasks – kill however many enemies, destroy any number of nests, hit enemies in their weak points – these types of bite-sized missions will certainly be familiar to anyone who has ever played an online game à la Fortnite, Destiny, and the aforementioned Halo Infinite. While you can earn XP outside of studies through in-game actions such as headshots, killing enemies, and so on, it’s pennies compared to what you earn from completing studies. It’s pretty disheartening to play your best only to see that you’ve barely made any progress towards the next milestone, simply because you didn’t feel like completing some arbitrary objective.
Now, this wouldn’t be as big of a problem were it not for the fact that the game forbids you to access virtually all of its content until you reach certain milestones. Whole modes, difficulties, operators, and maps are locked away until you hit certain levels, which means you have to spend hours grinding away on the same maps, completing the same repetitive tasks while playing on the same difficulties to get the most out of this game. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with games locking content away until you progress past a certain point, but I feel that they should at least give you enough to chew on so that you’re satisfied well before getting to the main course. Extraction fails horribly at this, not only because it gives you very little to chew on at the start, but because the game is pretty content-starved all things considered.
What Makes It Worth My Time and Money?
Rainbow Six Extraction has 12 total maps — three for each of the game’s four settings. In my time playing, I didn’t think any of them felt all that distinct. You can do weekly challenges, and participate in a ranked mode upon reaching milestone 16. At launch, this is everything there is to do in Rainbow Six Extraction, a video game that costs $39.99; you can play either solo or online with friends in what amounts to three modes, and that’s it. There’s also a VR training mode for those looking to learn the basics of the game, but most will likely forget this exists after a few hours of playing.
Despite my praise of its solid gameplay mechanics, as well as the fun I’ve had teaming up with others online, I do not recommend anyone spend their hard-earned dollars on this game. It’s all about the grind, it lacks content, and it artificially pads out the time players would spend playing it by locking 90% of its content behind hours of repetitive gameplay. Rainbow Six Extraction makes a strong first impression, but give it a few hours, and you might feel more compelled to uninstall this game rather than press on.