Ubisoft isn’t a stranger to making innovations. They came up with For Honor with its interesting way of tackling melee combat, then there’s Riders’ Republic that decided to take the battle royale formula in an interesting direction. They even made Immortal Phoenix Rising, which wasn’t really innovating on anything from Breath of the Wild. However, it was a new direction compared to the usual titles that Ubisoft works on. On top of that, it constructed its own universe and characters and was a highly commendable title in the end.
However, when they come up with a winning formula, they tend to really stick to it, maybe exploit it. And usually the degree they exploit said winning titles is to a fault. I think Rainbow 6 Extraction is part of the latter description of how I know Ubisoft. Not because Rainbow Six Siege is a generic take on the tactical First Person Shooter, it wouldn’t survive this long if it was. But due to how it attempts to integrate itself to a horde shooter without really revamping itself towards that genre.
Horde Shooters are typically the types that you can pick up and play and more or less just learn how to play the game by ear. Most mechanics can be inferred by the intuition of any gamer who has at least tried out some sort of Call of Duty or any of its clones. In fact, the more arcade approach by Call of Duty with its zombies mode was able to make that successful transition. Rainbow Six on the other hand is more realistic, more tactical, and how you move must be informed by how you read the situation. The complete opposite of how Horde Shooters generally make you go in a run-and-gun style of play. So, on paper, the challenges are there but a very possible, interesting new take on the established genre could happen here. And while some of the efforts are commendable, there are a few cogs in this machine that don’t quite match well with its other moving parts. And that unfortunately made for a rather bland experience. Still with me? Let’s go over Rainbow Six Extraction, the good, the bad, and the space zombie.
Something invades the United States, we’re not sure what, but it’s making sure we know it’s there. The government puts together a team-best suited to investigate the situation. That team soon became its own entity, called REACT. You take charge of these operators to do incursions in the affected areas, to rescue people in danger, investigate the invaders, and slay them if necessary.
Production ( 3 / 5)
The models for weapons and the operators themselves look pretty well-thought-out and distinct from one another. Even though they ideally would be sporting similar gear, you can, for the most part, guess what they do just by looking at them. There’s one problem though, these assets are from Rainbow Six Siege. It doesn’t feel right to be gauging how good the graphics are for this occasion if most of it is sourced from another game. It’s like ordering takeout, serving them to guests and claiming it to be your own cooking. Aside from that being a massive meme it also feels pretty dishonest.
With that, what part of it can I look at and gauge it with? Hmm. Well, I suppose it’s going to have to be the alien zombies. They do look pretty alien in the sense that they’re usually some sort of naked life form that looks human enough. They come from weird egg blobs. That’s kind of it. Functionally speaking, they work. You can tell which one runs at you to strike you, which one shoots alien bullets, sorta, and which ones explode. There are others but their design isn’t as telling as the previous ones. You can tell where their weak points are by noticing whatever’s glowing on their body, but other than that they all look generic. They all look pretty similar, except maybe the bloaters, so they’re kinda, of boring to look at.
There are some cut scenes that look phenomenal, but they’re generally short and just used as a tool to contextualize what you’re doing. It’s hard to get invested in any of it, but it certainly looks like they just want you to jump into the action as soon as possible.
The audio experience is pretty on-par. Though I’m not sure how much of this is just inherited from Siege. I’m certain the techno track is original, which does a fair job of heightening the tension during encounters. It doesn’t feel like something I’d get sick of, which is a big deal considering how often you’ll hear it.
In general, I don’t have any glaring or deal-breaking complaints with the game’s visuals, or sounds. It’s just that nothing really stood out to me. It looks good, don’t get me wrong, but there’s nothing about it I’d really remember like maybe a week from now if I stopped playing the Extraction.
Mechanics ( 4.5 / 5)
As I said before, this title is clearly built on top of Rainbow Six Siege, so I won’t be going over the classes, the gunplay, or the finer aspects of tactical movement within the game. Instead, we’ll be focusing on what unique mechanics Extraction adds upon this.
First off, you run a roster of operators where you can take one out at a time. You go into incursions that are basically 3 sets of random missions patched together, meant to be done one after the other. They’re connected via safe rooms Where the amount of danger you have to face increases with every succeeding area. The more dangerous the mission, the better the experience your selected operator gets once they get out. When they level up, they gain some significant perks. Such as enhanced mobility or defense, or access to different types of weapons, allowing you to change up your arsenal and by extension, your tactics per operator you want to use. For example, Doc who starts out with a loud and proud shotgun can be given a Sub-machine gun that can have a suppressor attached. Other attachments such as sights or grip can be swapped out as well so I can decide if I’m going to fight them at range, or up close and personal.
However, do note that you gain the experience when you get out. In usual horde shooters, you have to be mauled by a mob of zombies or minions for you to be taken down. Here in Rainbow Six Extraction, taking any hit is already a significant mistake. Three hits from a grunt is probably more than enough to take you down. And nope, you don’t just get to redo a mission once your operator goes down. Instead, the operator turns into some sort of horrible rendition of Sponge Bob. They are trapped in that stage and need to be rescued. Once you rescue them, they finally gain the experience they earned. But Len? Do they die permanently if you fail to save them? Well, no. They eventually come back, but they lose any experience they were supposed to get in the first place. So, there’s a sort of Dark Souls mechanic mixed in there, now that I think about it. Once your operator returns, they actually sustain the damage from the previous incursion. If they’re too damaged, they stay benched until they recover enough to be able to go out again. How much they recover depends on how well you do on your next incursions.
Seeing this, it becomes evident that you’ll want to have at least a handful of operators that you can perform well with. In case one of them needs to recover, be rescued, or if somebody else in your squad has already taken up the operator you’re trying to play as. This keeps the experience fresh and dynamic, at least for a while.
On top of this, there are smaller side-objectives you can accomplish throughout your incursions. Taking down alien eggs, landing x amount of headshots, doing stealth kills, are the usual suspects you’d find in mobile games. Simple, grindable, objectives. Accomplishing these will allow your base to level up, unlock new operators, and give access to new items you can swap around within your loadout. Allowing you to finetune every operator you have to any sort of situation. Really, they managed to give you a sophisticated, flexible and interesting set of tools to handle whatever the game could throw at you. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to throw much.
Content (3.5 / 5)
So I just talked about how Rainbow Six Extraction manages to put together a rather punishing but at the same time, an interesting system in front of you to manage through. Lots of possible iterations and setups you can mix and match with. It’s like you were given a kitchen that can handle cooking anything. Wedding cakes, thick-cut steaks, fried chicken, anything. And then you’re tasked to cook canned soup. You think you’d be moving up in the world after your 10th can of soup. But it’s more of the same, preparing canned soup, with but with a twist of adding a boiled egg.
The enemies do different things. One of them runs up to you and attacks you, another one shoots, some others set up traps that blow up, or just blow up themselves. However, they all meet the same end, I shoot them down or take them out stealthily. I just look for a way around them to take them out. While the tools of the operators are pretty helpful, specifically those who make scouting a lot easier and safer. They certainly make the game a little too easy to get through. On top of that, enemy abilities are predictable, how to deal with them is predictable, it’s kind of just a phoned-in affair. I mean, sure, I had a hard time at first. Particularly when I was playing solo. There is satisfaction in learning and overcoming the initial challenges. But not long after that, tackling almost every mission becomes routine.
Through several hours of playing, I find that the worst the game can throw at you is a bullet sponge version of an operator. I was thinking that we’d need to fight something that can match an actual operator to make fights exciting. But this isn’t it. Of all the enemies, I think the shrouder was the most interesting. Because it made it possible for me to get ambushed easily if I wasn’t careful. Still, it would have been nice if the alien zombies were given a more interesting form with matching abilities, rather than looking like people dipped in the mud trying to run at you just to get shot.
Maps, despite having three major areas, don’t offer much in variety either. Since there’s nearly no verticality in this game, the traversal is too simple for what we know these operators are capable of. Aside from maybe texture packs, all of them are more or less mini-mazes for us to wander through. It might have been improved should some locations have something unique about them to stand out. Perhaps fire hazards, or radioactive areas, maybe ladders or ropes we can climb or descend from, or foliage or darkness that just makes for poorer visibility.
This was an opportunity for Rainbow Six to have more curated sequences to play through, maybe fight a giant egg queen, or perhaps fight along with a larger force or military back-up. That would have been epic. It would have really felt like you were fighting alien invaders. Maybe even give the operators more character since creating cut scenes with them was very much possible. Right now, it’s a random quest generator and nothing much after that. The challenge mode is just more quests strung together, wish there was more to it, but that’s it.
Features (2 / 5)
R6 Extraction offers a somewhat robust way of communicating with teammates without having to use voice chat. Which I had a hard time adjusting to because I’m simply more used to playing Apex. Had you seen some of my gameplay you’d find that one of my common mistakes was pressing 3 when I wanted to run. That button was unequipping weapons in the other game but is ‘throw smoke grenade’ in Extraction. And well, that leads to a few funny moments here and there.
The game also offers a codex if you like reading. Not my thing but you can do that.
Finally, Extraction has a store full of cosmetics, but if we’re going to follow their history with things you can purchase, an XP booster can be expected there sometime in the future. Which you can use if you want, just, I find it a bit scummy.
Rainbow Six Extraction showed me that sometimes you can make solutions that are way too complex for certain problems. And raising the stakes by severely punishing mistakes makes it harder to learn the game. The way the game tweaks itself with the in-game director is neat, and I wish it made a better single-player experience, but admittedly that’s not at the forefront of its goals.
This title throws many exciting short-term goals at you which can keep you hooked, at least for a while. The lack of a long-term goal, or a proper story to finish, makes it difficult to invest long hours into it. Unless you’re the type that just wants to unlock the next set of items or perks for every operator, I find it hard to justify keeping at the grind with just that.
Rainbow Six Extraction does indeed feel like it opens up once you have a decent squad or at least surrounded by friends. However, this makes the game depend on that to be good, and I don’t think that’s a reliable metric to go by. But I don’t If you happen to be able to play with a few of your buddies who like this genre then I suppose this could be a nice game to try out. It’s not even a full-priced game either, so it won’t set you back as much.
As for people like me that like to be able to play games with or without other people joining you, it’s a bit of a hard sell. If I’m unable to enjoy a game by itself, I tend to think of it as incomplete. And this is how I view Rainbow Six Extraction. This kind of made me appreciate Left 4 Dead 2 a lot more than I did back then. It makes me want to revisit it and just study how many things it got right, despite its age. Perhaps there are a few in there that R6 Extraction can pick up and play with, as well.
Rainbow Six Extraction might need a few more shots to hit the target, hitting a 3 / 5.
Available on PS5, PS4, XBOX 1/X/S, PC, Stadia.