Step back into the shoes of your favourite Rainbow Six Siege Operators to join REACT and fight back against an invading and constantly evolving alien life form.
If you've read my previews of Rainbow Six: Extraction then you'll know that I haven't been particularly convinced by the Ubisoft cooperative shooter. This is a game that is set in the Tom Clancy Rainbow universe, and sees a bunch of the cast of Operators from Rainbow Six: Siege shifting their focus from facing each other in combat scenarios to instead work as part of the response unit, REACT, as they look to understand and deal with an invading, mutating and rapidly growing alien life form known as the Chimera parasite. Designed as a first-person shooter, Extraction has a lot of the core elements and gameplay mechanics of Siege, including environmental destruction and tactical play, yet unlike Siege, this is a cooperative, stealthy, often horde-like game framed around gooey, zombie-esque alien opponents. Needless to say, it's a far cry from anything we've seen in the Rainbow universe.
So how does Extraction work you ask? Well, alike Siege, this game does not have a campaign or a core narrative experience. There are simply four main locations that you can queue into (New York, San Francisco, Alaska, and Truth or Consequences), wherein you are tasked with completing a variety of objectives to earn experience to rank up Operators and your account to acquire new gear and items. That's about it. It might seem strange to boil it all down to this, but there isn't really much else to do aside from repeatedly jumping into these locations to be able to face a range of the many different types of Archaean archetypes (the parasite's creature-like form) and to unlock a little more lore to figure out what the Chimera parasite is and how to beat it.
Let me just add right now, that this style doesn't exactly promote a very fulfilling gameplay experience. The first few hours are enjoyable as you unlock a ton of new gear and begin facing increasingly more demanding circumstances that require more teamplay and strategy for greater reward. But, eventually it reaches the point when you've been doing the same thing hour after hour for no significant reason, and the gameplay loop soon becomes dull and exhausting thereafter.
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In terms of that gameplay loop, a basic level of Extraction (I'll touch on endgame in a moment) simply asks you to; choose one of the four areas (each of which are split into three sub-areas), select one of four increasingly demanding difficulties, craft a team of Operators befitting the challenge, and then complete the three main objectives, split between each sub-area. This could be, for example, having to rescue a trapped REACT scientist, then capturing an important Archaean (for example one of the heavily armoured and deadly Smashers), and finally blowing up an Arch Spine, which is causing Archaean nests to regrow in the sub-area. There are around ten different types of objective to complete, some of which are similar - i.e. Biopsy asks you to eliminate a target and take a sample of its body whereas Hunt simply requires you to eliminate a foe - with the objectives given being randomised, meaning you'll have to quickly choose a team of Operators best suited for the challenge during the queuing process.
Similarly, as for how the gameplay works, despite how it may seem, you can play Extraction alone, as a pair, or as a trio, and the game will tailor the difficulty, the amount of enemies, and the types of Archaeans you face to suit your party size. In a level, the main bulk of Extraction revolves around quietly moving through a level, taking out nests and Archaeans without alerting them, else you'll find yourself being chased and attacked by hordes of aggressive and vicious monsters that won't hesitate from taking you out, which will fail the mission and see your Operator becoming missing in action, meaning they will not be playable until you rescue them from the same place they fell. It should be noted that while you can have the majority of the cast unplayable at once, you will never be locked out of the game, as an Operator will always be brought back so you can continue playing.
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Looking at the Operators available, Extraction offers up 18 playable characters, each of which are pretty much exact replicas of their Siege counterpart. Sledge still smashes walls with his hammer, Ela still throws concussive mines, Doc still has a healing syringe etc. Each character, as is the case in Siege has a stat line that reflects their design, meaning certain characters are faster and more agile, whereas others have more armour and are more resilient, and combining that with their available weapons and what ability they bring to the table, you have to determine the best way to use them in an operation. Tachanka and his deployable .50 calibre turret isn't the best man for a stealthy incursion, for example.
In terms of the endgame portion, this revolves around two main aspects: Assignments and Maelstrom Protocol. Both of these activities must be played as part of a trio, and serve up a far more challenging gameplay experience, due to various modifiers and an increased Archaean presence, with the experience reward for completing either being far greater. The other main difference between these modes and regular play is that you will be expected to complete more objectives - up to nine in one session in Maelstrom - and to make the challenge even more difficult, resources are far more scarce, meaning you have to be more tactical and strategic in how you approach and handle a level. Both of these game modes are the best of what Extraction offers, but they are also vastly more challenging, and will likely be a little off-putting for the less versed players.
While there's no doubting that Extraction is a well-made game, in terms of its fundamental gameplay and visuals, the same can't be said about its level of enjoyment. As I alluded to earlier, the progression in this title is about as uninspired as it gets. If you don't like to constantly grind out multiple experience levels doing the same thing time and time again to get slightly better items and gear to be able to tackle the two more challenging activities or harder difficulties, then you probably won't get too far in Extraction.
Which brings me to my biggest concern with this game, a concern I've had ever since I first previewed it months ago, which is that I really don't see any longevity with Extraction. This is a title that doesn't do anything to make you want to continue playing. Levelling up, unlocking new gear, uncovering new lore, none of it feels truly rewarding after the first couple of hours. It's a well-made game that feels great to play and from what I've seen has been produced in such a way that bugs are incredibly infrequent - I've actually yet to notice any. But, will Extraction have you itching to play more, have you longing to sink some more hours in weeks or months after launch? Probably not.
This is the one of those games that suits Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass incredibly well. It's an ideal title for picking up with a few friends on a lazy weekend, clocking in a few hours, and then doing the same whenever you're looking for a simple and quick game to lose an hour or two too. But what Rainbow Six: Extraction isn't, is the next Tom Clancy game for you to commit to. That's clearly still Siege's purpose. Extraction is a game that will slot into the generally quite forgettable cooperative zombie games scene, alongside Back 4 Blood, but I can't see this title being anything more than that, which is a little disappointing.
6 / 10
Controls and mechanics are tight. Plenty of Archaean types to tackle, each with unique abilities. Visuals are a highlight.
Progression is uninspired and exhausting. Lack of a major core narrative makes the game feel fundamentally lacking. Gameplay is very repetitive. Will struggle to keep you playing, and the longevity of the game is a big question.