GamingFeature ArticlePC / MacPS5Xbox Series SXbox Series X

Rainbow Six: Extraction, Review

Our resident Rainbow Six: Siege sharpshooter, Nina, returns with thoughts on Ubisoft’s recent spin off PvE shooter Rainbow Six: Extraction.

Up until recently I was a long-standing Rainbow Six: Siege fangirl, but I have drifted away from Siege in recent months. I don’t like how Ubisoft have allowed what was a great team based, tactical “Clancy” game, morph into a pretty toxic, run and gun shooter. Funnily enough my actual love of Rainbow Six: Siege started back in 2018, not with the core game, but with brief Operation Outbreak event. It was a one-off, team-based, PvE zombie-horde mode and I was hooked on it straight away. It was my ‘gate-way drug’ into Siege’s tactical PvP. Outbreak mode always remained dear to my heart. So, when Ubi announced it was making an entire stand-alone off-shoot title inspired by the R6 Outbreak event, I was all in!

Long enough to be Left for Dead

Announced four years ago, Rainbow Six: Extraction is finally here. I was expecting Extraction to be similar to the Outbreak event; operators run shotguns, as hordes of squishy zombies try to swarm you and you have to fight your way to safety, “Left-4-Dead-styles”. But rather than taking inspiration from Left 4 Dead, it feels like Extraction has channelled old school tactical shooters and other clever tactical games like XCOM.

There is certainly a XP grind associated to each characters levelling up. For both skills and health improvements, but that grind leads into a challenging and enjoyable endgame. Which outside of Destiny 2 just doesn’t exist for many shooter fans either. The obvious criticism is that this is just a drag and drop of R6, as the characters, skills and equipment are all straight from Siege. But that is oversimplifying what is actually a clever redeployment of resources to create a whole new game, that feels familiar but totally new as well.

So, how does Extraction work? Story wise it picks up where the Siege event, Operation Outbreak left off. The Chimera alien parasite is back, its making new alien-zombie enemies called Archaeans for our well known and much-loved R6 Operators to take on. Every urban incursion is broken into three subzones. Each subzone has your 3 person co-op team complete objectives before moving on, and in each zone the difficulty increases, as do the potential XP rewards the further you go. It’s a risk and reward balancing game. As at anytime, a wounded and battered team can cut its loses and call for extraction. So, living to fight another day…but leaving valuable XP unclaimed.

Zombies, but not as we know them

The Archaeans are no mere horde-mode zombies either; these guys hit hard. And their different variants can shoot at you from cover, tear down walls to flank you or explode and leave behind clouds of noxious gas. They’re smart, they’re tough and they don’t just let you mow them down as their Outbreak event cousins did, stealth is key to succeed. What’s more, any damage operators sustain while on an incursion has to be recovered from over time. Just like squad members in the XCOM games. Injured operators are only healed by earning XP with other operators in other incursion.

If you lose that operator, they go MIA. You must return to the map where you lost them and rescue both them and the XP they carry. Kinda like Dark Souls and the reclaiming of lost souls. I love this aspect of the game as it is twofold. There is a constant risk and reward balance to deal with and it means “maining” a particular character is risky. As all your eggs are in one basket and if you ‘main’ goes down, you don’t have other top tier operators to use in the meantime.

Patience wins the race

This combination of tough enemies and genuine stakes, makes Extraction a very intense, tactical and rewarding experience. If you want to protect your roster and reap the most rewards you have to play it smart. You have to be slow and methodical, and rely on intel and wits to survive. Playing solo is very rewarding and enjoyable, but Extraction is at its best when you have two teammates by your side. Team co-operation and tactics are the bread and butter of this game. And interestingly, they are the very things that made Rainbow Six Siege fun, but the very thing that Siege has lost.

I will always love R6 Siege. But I feel in recent times the game has lost a lot of its magic, as teamwork and tactics are no longer used by the wider community. But Rainbow Six: Extraction has eased my pain. It’s taken those aspects of Siege that made it so good and used them as its foundation. Playing with ‘like-minded’ teammates again has been great, even with the odd random and solo que-er. This team work is thankfully still possible even without voice-chat. That’s thanks to the solid waypoint and ‘callout’ system Ubisoft have implemented, which works similarly to excellent Apex Legends system. 

Rainbow Six: Extraction in summary

A lot of Siege fans have hated on Extraction. There are various reasons, but none which hold a lot of water with me. I can tell you right now, if you are an old-school R6 fan who enjoys a slow, challenging PvE experience, that rewards headshots, teamwork and tactics, then Rainbow Six Extraction is the game for you. And what’s more, it’s on Gamepass!

So, if you have a PC or Xbox, there’s no excuse not to try it.