If nothing else (though there is plenty), Ubisoft Montreal is giving shooter fans something serious to contend with in Rainbow Six Extraction. Exactly how serious you’re prepared to take this ‘shock’ Rainbow Six Siege segue is, of course, down to you. We do kinda admire it, for various reasons that follow …
As a pure shooter platform, proficiency is everything in Rainbow Six Siege. Operator bios are cool, and all, as are their characterisations. Beyond that, Siege is a brutal test of competency whether via the controller or mechanical M+K. With Extraction, the appeal of role-play suddenly enters the frame – this prospect of joining the Rainbow Exogenous Analysis & Containment Team (REACT) and becoming supremely amazing at some new evening/weekend vocation.
Watch our Rainbow Six Extraction Preview
If you’ve ever gotten into the role of Division Agent, Destiny Guardian or Apex Legend, you’ll know how something like Rainbow Six Extraction could grab you. A massive plus in Ubisoft’s favour from the outset is that Extraction has a unique tactical set-up, based on an armoury comprising around 60 authentic modern-military weapons for starters. Eighteen popular Operators from Rainbow Six Siege bring their loud outs to combat an extra-terrestrial threat here on Earth. The concept, in principle, is fantastic. In practice, there is potential for sure.
There will be 12 new maps at launch, divided between New York, San Francisco, Alaska and an area subtitled ‘Truth or Consequences’. Ubisoft claims each map is up to three times larger than anything in Siege, which is … considerable. Our hands-on session was entirely in NYC, stalking Archæans around Liberty Island, Monolith Gardens and a huge Police Station.
Each of the venues, particularly Liberty Island museum and Police Station holding cells, are rich with narrative detail that is exquisitely rendered. In time, players will get to know these locales better than their own homes. Thing is, the Archæan presence is so commanding, and Map Objectives so completely focused on particular Archæan units and/or REACT Tech, that the nature of a place gets smothered. Nests, Sprawl, Spikers, Tormentors and Apex perform similar functions too, wherever they are found. From airlock to airlock, it’s a similar deal.
You’re not just blasting at Archæans, however, and this point is key to whether you take or leave Rainbow Six Extraction, certainly around launch. Everything is structured around Map Objectives, of which there are at least 13 types, and EXP-based ‘Milestone’ progression of Operators. Teams of three Operators are served Objectives to enforce a tactical approach, encouraging the kind of communication and coordination that made Siege such a beast.
Map Objectives are engaging and FUN if you enjoy planning and execution more than run and gun. There’s that too when the Archæans throw everything into chaos, and some Map Objectives allow for an all-out assault, such as bringing Hibana, Finka and Doc to a ‘Hunt’. Often, though, when collecting tissue samples (‘Biopsy), laying explosives (‘Sabotage’) or planting trackers (‘Nest Tracking’) it’s the heart-in-mouth preservation of calm that chills.
As a package at launch, based on what we’ve experienced, Rainbow Six Extraction is set up to be something different to the theme-park-ride thrills of Gears, Halo, Destiny et al. It’s not a linear pursuit of minor enemies, mid-tier bosses and show-case bullet-sponge behemoths. It’s systematic. Surgical. Measured … mature? Secretly we hope there’s more to it though.
Possibly the (free) post-launch support will deliver a new tier of Archæan to contend with. Endgame content is promised to involve weekly challenges, including flagship Maelstrom Protocol mode, which limits time and gear resources across nine subzones of increasingly tougher enemies. Maelstrom Protocol has echoes of Halo’s Firefight, Gears Horde Mode and Destiny Nightfall Strikes, ranking players from Bronze to Diamond class plus other rewards. There are also weekly Crisis Events to follow soon after, which seem to be lore-oriented variations of scenarios, such as Spillover that introduces an ‘evolved’ version of Sprawl.
Finally, as a gesture of goodwill (some might say confidence), Ubisoft is including two Buddy Pass tokens with every edition of Extraction. These allow players to invite friends into the game with them for up to 14 days. All progress is saved and transferred to the full game should any of these friends decide that a life in REACT is indeed written in their stars.
Rainbow Six Extraction launches on January 20, 2022 with full cross-play, cross-save, and cross-progression on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Stadia, as well as Windows PC through the Ubisoft Store.
This article was written by Paul Davies