REVIEW – Ubisoft has positioned Rainbow Six Extraction as a cooperative version of one of the most popular shooter games of the last generation. Despite this, it feels like the company’s most bland title in recent memory, taking almost none of the best qualities of its 2015 predecessor Rainbow Six Siege instead of diluting it into a stiff, repetitive and soulless experience.
To use an old analogy, Rainbow Six Extraction has as many original ideas as there are cow bellowing in the Vache qui rit cheese. For example, in one mission, you have to plant and protect explosives before they go off, while in another, you have to find and destroy various alien nests. Video games typically recycle mechanics and ideas like this, but unlike this game, other titles disguise them in such a way that it’s hard to see that you’re doing the same thing over and over again, while Extraction doesn’t even try to disguise it.
Unlike Siege, which has almost infinite replay value thanks to its competitive formula, Extraction gives you little reason to keep looking at it over and over again. Even after unlocking the new commandos, gadgets and maps, the whole gameplay feels shallow.
Cheesy and boring story
The narrative of Extraction is almost non-existent, and there are no memorable characters to drive the story forward. Even the intro feels like it’s been cut from some kind of cheesy sci-fi movie, but things don’t get any better later on. Furthermore, the gameplay is distinctly separate from the overall plot, with a vague explanation of ‘exploration’ as the primary motivation for completing missions. Not every cooperative first-person shooter needs a heartfelt story, but there needs to be some kind of interesting universe, story, anything that engages the player, and Extraction clearly fails in this area.
The maps are roughly the same size as those you could walk in Rainbow Six Siege, so there aren’t many surprises, even if all the areas are procedurally generated. It’s as if Extraction is trying to be a dungeon crawler at times, as you’re tasked with getting through various sub-zones (AKA stages) where you’re promised XP if you complete objectives. But you don’t actually get any incentive to keep visiting the different subzones, as there are no specific rewards tied to each stage. The only reason to visit other zones is to break the monotony, which just shows how little content there is in Extraction.
“Choice is an illusion” indeed
The gameplay seems unbalanced in terms of difficulty, with little build-up to ease the more difficult encounters.
The gameplay is very similar to Siege, at least in terms of movement and mechanics. Though the similarities mostly stop there, as the tactical features are thrown out the window. This is mainly because the enemy is predictable, and there aren’t many ways to solve specific objectives. The game wants you to believe that you have a lot of choices, but in reality, it’s all an illusion.
Repetitive gameplay has you and up to two other players going through timed stages while completing objectives. Each level is filled with alien parasites that individually pose little threat but can quickly overwhelm you if you don’t eradicate them with a breeze.
Poor design of difficulty levels
There is a big difference in difficulty in this regard, as the game’s difficulty doesn’t feel as gradual or fair as you would expect. If you take each enemy slowly, there’s almost no danger, but if you find yourself in the middle of a mission that throws aliens at you in an endless wave, you could easily be quickly overwhelmed. Enemies can get in your way and make it impossible to move, which is both frustrating and unfair – I certainly wouldn’t call it fun.
You can quit a mission at any time, and the game tells you in advance which objectives you can choose, so you can avoid objectives you don’t like at any time. While it’s great to have this option, the bigger problem is that Extraction has plenty of missions that are so uninteresting that we decided never to play them again.
Unfortunately, diversity is not a pleasure here
As in Siege, Extraction also features several special commandos (“operators”), but this time there are only 18 to choose from (compared to over 60 in Siege). These characters have unique abilities and weapons that add at least a little spice to the game’s rather monotonous and formulaic universe. The commandos also have various extra skills. One of them, for example, can see through walls to the nests of Archaea and collect items, while another can heal himself or other players, which is a very positive feature when looking for another player.
Despite the various features, the game remains hugely repetitive. Since the objectives are so similar that they almost “blend” together, the different extra abilities of the commandos cannot be used as much as in Siege. What’s the point of having so many special commandos if there’s not much reason to switch between them? Many of them seem so useless compared to the others, and it’s disappointing that the soldier you choose doesn’t make much difference overall.
Save the one who can be saved… or leave the whole thing alone
One of Rainbow Six Extraction’s rare positive aspects is dealing with “death”. If you fail, the commando you were playing with must be rescued from that map before you can use it again. This forces you to experiment with other soldiers in a way that makes sense within the game’s narrative. This goes far beyond a simple “game over” screen and instead motivates you to stay alive as much as possible while fighting your way through the stages. Dying is punished in the game, but the consequences are never irreversible. Unfortunately, this unique idea barely stands out in a sea of general design choices.
Tom Clancy spins in his grave
Rainbow Six Extraction is a game that has obviously been stuck in ‘development hell’ for so long for a reason. Ubisoft finally realised that it was time for this game to be released, and the end result is a bunch of ideas cobbled together from elsewhere, many of which have been seen many times before, without the faintest hint of originality. Perhaps the game’s only major positive is that it’s free on Xbox Game Pass, but even that is paltry for a AAA Ubisoft title.
+ If no other cooperative game
+ Free with Game Pass
+ Rescue the dying commando
– Repetitive gameplay seen a thousand times before
– Incredibly formulaic universe and story
– Idiotic difficulty spikes
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release date: January 20, 2022