If you're looking for a grindy, slow-paced, tactical survival horror shooter with a squadmate or two, give this one a cursory glance. If you don't have Xbox Game Pass then maybe wait for a free weekend or a sale. We can't recommend it at the current price. Maybe try to score a Buddy Pass code from your buddy, if you absolutely can't wait.
We’ve been having a go at Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction over the last few weeks. The game launched on 20 January, so we’re a little late to this one but if you are too, that’s fine. You haven’t missed much. It’s not that the game is bad. It just fails to do anything meaningful.
Let’s get into what Rainbow Six Extraction is, what it isn’t, and if you should consider buying it. We wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s not worth a purchase. There are gamers out there that have been waiting for this experience for years. If you enjoy the grind of a slow-paced tactical survival horror shooter with a squadmate or two, you’ll have a good time in Extraction.
But if that isn’t your cup of tea, or you’re looking for something more competitive then maybe stick to Rainbow Six Siege. ‘Survival horror’ is also a stretch. You aren’t managing your nutrient intake or hiding in cupboards from the baddies. You’re shooting them in the head (hopefully).
Rainbow Six Extraction is a standalone game based on Outbreak, a limited-time event that debuted in 2018 during Rainbow Six Siege’s Year Three Season One Operation Chimera. Here’s the sitch. You’re part of REACT (Rainbow Exogenous Analysis & Containment Team), a new offshoot team tasked with handling a new threat. That would be parasitic alien species called Archæans (Ar-kay-ens) that wants to cover everything with black goo called Sprawl. And devour all life, we assume. So space goths, then.
That’s about all the meaningful background info you’re given. There’s no story campaign to play through. Any and all exposition is provided via cutscenes and codex entities. The cutscenes are beautifully rendered but, we’ll be honest, we couldn’t be arsed to read through the numerous codex entries.
If you’re thinking that doesn’t sound like enough to build a standalone game, we’d be inclined to agree. It could’ve been a DLC. That might’ve been intentional from Ubisoft, though. It seems the company is trying to make the gameplay loop the main draw instead of the narrative. This is what hurts this title the most. That gameplay loop… isn’t the strongest.
You’ll face incursions across a limited pool of twelve ‘containment zones’ (read: maps). Each incursion takes place at one of four locations and consists of three zones, each with an objective and an increase in difficulty and XP reward as you progress through them. The objective pool is also limited, to only thirteen mission types. It’ll only take you a few hours to play through all of them. Then you’ll be stuck replaying through the same thirteen missions across the same twelve zones until you get bored. Or until Ubisoft releases more content.
Ubisoft does try to sweeten the deal with a ‘reduced’ launch price and the inclusion of Buddy Pass. That’ll get you two two-week trial codes for your two best teammates. Just as well, because this game definitely goes down easier with two teammates — who own microphones and speak the same language as you. While not impossible, a lot of the fun is lost playing solo. You could jump into matchmaking and get paired with two randos but it’s difficult to convey anything but basic callouts or commands using the ping system carried over from Siege.
The ping system isn’t the only thing Siege players will recognise. They’ll recognise… almost everything else. There isn’t a whole new to be found in Extraction. All the playable operators hail from Siege, many from the Outbreak event. You’ll start off with a few of them unlocked, each with a single loadout option.
As you progress and improve your overall level and that of your operator you’ll unlock more loadout and gadget options. Here’s where some new gadgets are introduced. As nice as the new bits are, we found ourselves sticking to the drone you start off with.
Slow and steady wins the incursions
Make good friends with your drone (or similar recon gadgets), as well as your crouch button. You’ll be crouching a lot. Most of every mission in fact, if you and your team don’t screw things up. Almost all of the game mechanics promote a slow, quiet, tactical approach. Every operator starts with at least one silenced weapon in their arsenal and when things inevitably get loud, you’ll be sorry.
Or at least that’s what the game wants you to think. The ‘horde’ that descends on you when the excrement hits the oscillator isn’t nearly as daunting or challenging as it’s made out to be. If you can nail headshots, that is. This isn’t helped by the AI used by the alien enemies. The aliens themselves are also pretty disappointing. There is a decent amount of variety between the different types. But… you’ve seen it all before if you’ve played at least one other video game featuring an alien.
Then there’s the operator MIA system. If your mission isn’t going all that great and you end up going down, your operator is marked as MIA. They’re out of action until they’re retrieved by whichever operators you have left. If you fail the rescue mission (twice), you’ll get them back magically. You’ll also be punished by losing a bit of progress made with that operator. Nothing you can’t just grind back, but it stings a bit.
Extraction’s only redeeming factor is the gunplay. If you’ve played Siege then you’ll know what to expect. Weapons are solid and responsive, and they’ve also got a touch of personality. The operators all have loadouts to unlock, giving you a good variety to choose from. It’s just a pity you’ll likely wind up picking a rifle with a silencer and sticking with it. But that’s not the gun’s fault. There just aren’t that many situations where something else would work better.
Rainbow Six Extraction Verdict
As much as this feels like a cash grab from Ubisoft that could be easily dismissed, there’s definitely something to be had here. Even if that is just for the few players that played Siege and liked it but were immediately destroyed by a spawn-peeking no-life hacker who still lives in their mother’s basement.
The gunplay is good and the gameplay loop will keep you entertained for a good few hours. If you want Siege but slower and easier then you might enjoy Extraction. We couldn’t recommend spending money on it though. If you have Xbox Game Pass then you are already spending enough and can get it through that. For everyone else, wait for a good sale.
Rainbow Six Extraction is available on PC via the Epic Games Store, the Ubisoft Store and Stadia, the PlayStation 4 & 5, and the Xbox One and Series S|X.
- Rainbow Six Extraction was reviewed on Xbox Series X, using a review copy provided by Ubisoft/Prima Interactive.