The Rainbow team have a new task ahead of them, an alien biological nightmare.
The Rainbow Six video game universe has grown into a massive franchise that has spanned decades. I first experienced it with Rainbow Six Vegas, and have been captivated by the series ever since. One of my favourites is without a doubt Rainbow Six: Siege, a tactical shooter that puts an equal emphasis on strategy as it does mechanics, and is a game that has grown to be much bigger than I would've ever expected credit to the continued support from Ubisoft. Siege is packed with lore, crossovers, and so much more thanks to it being tied to the Rainbow universe, but for the most part, it's diverse list of operators have been locked to just Siege. Although that's about to change...
Ubisoft has been working on a new Rainbow Six game, one that features plenty of the characters and names that we have come to know and love from Siege. The game was previously known as Rainbow Six: Quarantine, but after a global pandemic, the developer/publisher made the wise decision to change it up at the last minute, and hence Rainbow Six: Extraction was born.
Unlike Siege, Extraction is not a PvP game, it's a cooperative experience that's set in the world of Rainbow after a seemingly alien life form invaded Earth and began consuming and contaminating people and places. The game itself puts a lot of emphasis on stealth and if we were being frank, it plays a lot like a user-friendly version of 10 Chambers' terrifying co-op title GTFO.
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From my experience playing the title for over two hours, it's very similar to Rainbow Six Siege thanks to using the same engine, game mechanics, and characters, just to name a few. But at the same time, it's vastly different because this is not a competitive shooter, it's a cooperative experience where stealth is much more important than mechanical skill. It does seem strange to say such a thing, considering this to an extent feels like a fun, off-topic expansion to Siege rather than an entirely new game at times. Does that mean it isn't fun or engaging? Absolutely not. However, the Siege player base has grown to be rather large thanks to the fantastic hardcore online multiplayer shooter, which this is starkly different too.
Alongside checking out the game, I also had the chance to catch up with Extraction's creative director Patrik Méthé, and during the interview, I asked Méthé about how they hope to attract both returning Siege players and new fans to this PvE experience. He said, "right from the beginning, we wanted to make sure the Siege players find a level of challenge they are looking for in our game. At the same time, we also wanted to make sure newcomers would have a smooth intro into this type of game, a more tactical shooter. To that effect, we have different systems in place, for example, all of the tutorials are optional."
Essentially, Extraction asks you to head into an isolated, quarantined area to complete a variety of objectives, without dying or screwing up along the way. The objectives range across a variety of modes, including Rescue (where you have to save an Operator who has been trapped by the strange alien virus) or Triangulation (where you have to locate and activate multiple computer consoles at the same time). There are a whole bunch of unique modes that you will have to complete, and a single run will see you have to finish three of these modes to get top marks, so to speak.
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The driving force for completing these missions is to earn experience. Depending on how many goals you bash out successfully, you will be rewarded with various sums of XP. The catch is that these challenges will reward absolutely nothing should you fail, and if you die, the operator you took for that run will be temporarily unavailable as they heal up again, using a cooldown type mechanic.
As long as you take a moment to get to grips with your environment and don't dive in guns blazing, you probably won't be dying all that often, at least on the lower difficulties. I have yet to see how the harder difficulties switch this up, but Méthé did tell me, "we have many different layers of difficulty in the game, and as you progress in the game, the challenge will drastically increase. We're very confident that even the most hardcore Siege player will find the challenge to the level they're expecting."
The enemies of Extraction come in various forms. These chaps are known as Archaens and are basically biological nightmares. Méthé explained to me the inspiration for the enemies of Extraction, saying, "we were looking at a real organism that exists in the world. I forgot it's scientific name, but it's The Blob. It's neither an animal, neither a plant, neither a mushroom. It looks like moss and it spreads and it eats everything in its path."
All of the enemies in Extraction spawn from bulging red nests dotted around the map, and you can take these out as you go to reduce the amount of enemies that will look to grief you when you start an objective. The main issue I noticed with the enemies is that the stealth mechanics are incredibly overtuned, and as long as you are packing a silencer on your weapons, the nests and baddies will rarely ever get a chance to perk up and attack before you turn them into a pile of mushy goo.
In terms of the Operators, the demo build I got to test out featured around nine operators, including Doc, Sledge, Finka, and Alibi. I did find that certain operators feel a little out of place in PvE, and when I asked Méthé about whether it was challenging to adapt certain operators to this new experience, he told me, "we had a huge pool of talent to go and look at and to see, which ones would be best suited inside a PvE experience. For sure, some were very easy picks, but we also looked at some of the operators that were really loved by the community. So, even though they were maybe less obvious in a PvE setting, we really wanted to bring them. Some operators that let's say received a bit less love on the PvP side, this time we wanted to bring them to a PvE environment, and make them shine."
He also explained that the operators I got to play as were only a fraction of what will be available in the full game. "The more you play into the game, the more you unlock different regions, and you will have access to different operators," said Méthé. "Throughout our live phase, we already have new operators that will be unlocked as you play. We'll see how far we go with that, but you'll have plenty of operators to play with."
From what I got to see, Rainbow Six: Extraction seems to be gearing up to be a fun experience through and through, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't worry me in places. Having this hybrid of mechanics from the competitive shooter of Siege, but also new stealth-centric co-op gameplay makes me question where the audience for this game will lie. I'm not sure it quite has the allure to draw people from Siege, but that's not to say that I personally didn't have fun. I'm excited to see what the future holds for Extraction, and how it will grow, especially since Méthé also explained to me, "We have plenty of ideas and initiatives ongoing, and I'm sure we'll be able to talk more about it in the very near future."
As for when Rainbow Six: Extraction is planned to release, that date has been set as September 16.