Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Windows (Reviewed)
Release Date: 20 January 2022
Price: $39.99 USD/$59.95 AUD – Available Here (Ubisoft) / Available Here (Epic Game Store)
It’s been roughly six years since Rainbow Six Siege was released. There was a limited time co-op event a few years after release called outbreak that pitted three operators against a horde of sci-fi enemies. The limited time event was well received and brings us here today with Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction.
The game sticks to its three-player co-op roots and offers an expanded roster of operators. Rainbow Six Extraction expands upon the event by repurposing old maps to create a multi-step PVE experience that forces players to constantly decide if they can push through or bail out before their operator becomes missing in action.
Up front, Rainbow Six Extraction doesn’t offer much story beyond a reason to shoot up some parasites and send them back to whatever planet they came from. It gives a rough explanation on the new roles for our favourite Rainbow Six operators, but the detail will come from small bits of text found in the codex and studies section of the game. The writing is passable, but its short and abrupt nature could be handled better. My biggest disappointment with the intel is the operator information. A lot of it is copy pasted from Siege and could use some serious expansion to fill out the world.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction is designed to be an intense co-op experience for three players. The game leans heavily on stealth gameplay. The experience is broken up with intense firefights against swarming enemies, whether it’s a result of a poor gameplay decision or a forced battle.
The roster in Extraction consists mostly of the classic operators from the original Siege release mixed in with a handful from earlier season passes. Some of the original abilities slot right into the game perfectly, while some have had very minor tweaks to fit. Each operator has their own specialty, so teams will need to consider their composition when picking operators. Each mission displays the randomly selected objectives for the upcoming game and what mutations have been added to make the mission even harder. At later difficulties, failing to select the right skills is practically a death sentence.
I enjoyed how the missions feel like a part of a larger operation. As operators take damage in the field or get knocked out, they will need to rest at headquarters for a while or be rescued from the field. I really like how the operator rescue system works where knocked out players who are not dragged to the extraction zone must be rescued from the same map. If a player is lucky, the rescue mission will be the first objective. Otherwise, the rescue will just get dicier. The mini-game to free an missing in action operator is pretty simple, so it’d be nice to see an extra mechanic or two that could be randomly selected.
The weapon and equipment systems are good overall. The weapons haven’t changed since Siege, but it’s clear not everything converted perfectly. Shotguns feel a bit out of place in Extraction as most aren’t suppressed. A pistol for stealthing around is less than ideal, so I found myself trying to power through certain operators so I could get a properly suppressed weapon as soon as possible. I’d like to see some rebalancing, whether it is providing the shotgun with a damage buff to compensate for the fact it’s a weapon only used when going loud or some other arrangement. On the other hand, the equipment system is almost perfect. Each character is limited to only two equipment slots, each with its own set of picks. Like the operators, the lack of choices forces teams to work together to select the best possible loadout to deal with the objectives provided.
The map design is nice and claustrophobic. The game’s maps have a lot of tight corners, small spaces, and a lot of potential entry points into a room. The sheer danger of the design works really well for Extraction’s gameplay. There is just so much opportunity for things to go completely wrong, bringing a nearly uncontrollable swarm on top of a team.
There are few issues ranging from mild quirks to tolerable problems that could be ironed out in future patches. Experience point distribution could use a tweak. The reward for dragging knocked out teammates in a really bad situation needs to be increased. Understandably, solving this issue while avoiding players looking to cheat the system is going to be tough, but it’s hard to justify taking the risk to rescue someone at the moment.
The scaling for two players needs to be improved. While the game is designed for a full squad of three, two players is going to happen a lot when it’s people want to play with their friends. To start with, losing three wall reinforcements already puts the pair at a disadvantage. Combine that with the greater area that needs to be covered in defensive objective, and you have a very dicey situation. Doling out three or more extra wall reinforcements will go a long way as it will shrink the amount of space two place will have to cover. The game could also turn down the spawn rate a little more.
Rainbow Six Extraction has good replayability for fans of grind heavy co-op games. There are a lot of operators to level up, and players will need to max out a lot of operators to tackle the end game effectively. The increasing challenge is done well. The mutators are an excellent way of shaking things up, and some of them are absolutely brutal to deal with.
The visuals are getting a little dated, but it’s holding up quite well considering the assets are pulled from a six year old game. The new visual style gives the game a really creepy atmosphere compared to the more familiar feel of the original presentation in Siege. While admittedly an incredibly small issue, I absolutely hate the new default skins and glad that better ones are easily acquired. It looks like the art department was inspired to paint all the clothes and much of the gear white based on lab biohazard suits. The model hasn’t changed to a more realistic CBRN suit, which is understandable given their frumpy look, but painting all the clothing white is a terrible way to go about it. It looks absolutely ridiculous. The art team would have been better served by taking some style advice from The Division, and just stick with adding more subtle changes like masks and rebreathers and making smaller, more conservative adjustments to the colour schemes to better reflect the REACT branding.
The audio is good. The music fits the atmosphere well. Almost all the lines are recycled from Siege save for a few recorded specifically for Extraction. The acting is still decent, though I admittedly have no idea how good most of the accents or lines in other languages actually are. The sound effects remain excellent, with a very good sound stage and clear, creepy noises.
Extraction’s reimagination of Siege is done surprisingly well, and the cost is at a very reasonable price point considering it gives so many existing assets a makeover. The game is tight enough that I’d be interested in more content in the future.
The game is far from perfect. There are some balancing issues that need to be sorted out. The scaling for two players needs more work, and I’d like to see some tweaks on how experience points are doled out to players taking the risk to rescue a knocked-out operator.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction is a very good pick for co-op game fans interested in the grindy end of the co-op spectrum, an area filled with the likes of Left 4 Dead and Deep Rock Galactic. While the experience isn’t perfect, it sure is a lot of fun with two of your friends.