Ever since it was released back in 2015, Rainbow Six Siege has made quite the name for itself in the online first-person shooter community. Now developer Ubisoft aims to bring the Rainbow Six series into the sci-fi PvE spotlight with Rainbow Six Extraction. However, the masterful shooting of Siege can only take a game so far. RainbowSixExtraction has a lot of great ideas, but strange design choices that lead to annoying difficulty holds it back from greatness.
Fight Back The Horde
Extraction follows the Rainbow six operatives under the organization REACT as they combat aliens attempting to end all life on earth. These aliens, called the Archæan, corrupt and consume everything around them, creating hellish landscapes full of organic matter. Choose from 18 different operatives with up to two other teammates, fighting from zone to zone. There are four locations available, with each location containing three zones to fight through. Each zone will have three sub-zones with random objectives to complete. There are bits of story strewn in between progression levels in the form of short cutscenes. It isn’t much, but it’s nice to have something more than just gameplay to drive you forward.
The gameplay itself is pulled straight from Siege, this includes the guns themselves. Those who have been playing Siege for the past few years will find themselves right at home here. The 18 operatives included on launch are all operatives we are familiar with as well. From the heavy machine gun wielding Tuchanka to Doc’s stim pistol, all the operatives keep their same abilities. This is by no means a bad thing though. Siege’s gunplay is part of what made it so popular in the first place, making it a welcome addition to the game. The operatives abilities are interesting to use in a PvE format as well, with some noticeable caveats however.
How Smart Can They Be?
One thing thats easy to see is that Extraction is built upon the framework of Siege. The problem here is that Siege was designed with PvP in mind. All the gadgets and abilities are intended to be used in a tactical manner against other players. The AI of the Archæan’s will never be able to match the tactical ability of another player. The Archæan’s mostly just stand there as you sneak around the maps. Once you are seen they switch from standing still to rushing straight at you. This gives very little room for any sort of tactical strategy. A few headshots is all it takes to kill most of the lower ranked enemies, meaning slowly pacing your shots is usually the best strategy. While the strong enemies can feel like bullet sponges, as you unload magazine after magazine into them.
Some of the random objectives give you the opportunity to show off of the tactical abilities. For instance, objectives that require you to defend a point, compliment the heavy hitting operative abilities. Whereas abilities like Lion’s detection drone can be used for locating certain targets. But the Archæan will usually just run straight at you, which makes it feel more like a horde mode than a tactical co-op shooter.
Heads Down, Eyes Up
Due to the tactical nature of the game, stealth is heavily emphasized. The dangers of the Archæan’s lurk around every corner. While staying in stealth, you’re able to pick them off one by one, destroy nests to stop them from spawning and move around the map without being attacked. The problem is staying in stealth. Keeping in stealth is incredibly difficult. When you are spotted by an Archæan, you have just a second or two before it lets out a roar. This roar will notify all Archæan nearby, which will also notify all Archæan near them, and so on and so on. Once you’ve been caught, that’s pretty much the end of stealth. There might be a few Archæan’s that haven’t been notified, but at this point most of them are chasing you around the map anyway.
The viability of stealth also depends on your sub-zones objective. There is an objective that requires you to take a sample from a single elite enemy. An objective like this requires you to sneak up the target and can make staying in stealth much easier. However, if your objective is one of the few that requires you to hold down an area, then theres nothing you can do to stay in stealth. As soon as you enter the zone to defend, every enemy is suddenly aware of your presence and will start to hunt you down. This feels completely backwards for a game so focused on tactical stealth. Staying in stealth is even more important due to the fact that health does not regenerate. When starting out this can feel like a nightmare. But further into the game, I began to realize that this is my favorite part.
Manage Your Squad
Health is used as a valuable resource, replenishable only between matches. You can gain temporary health to pad over your actual health but your main bar can only be regained in between missions. Because of this you can almost never use the same operative twice in a row. Depending on how low your operative’s health is, you may not be able to use them for three or four matches.
This encourages you to experiment with different operatives and learn how to use them all. However, if your operative is downed during a mission, that operative is lost. Upon failing, you will be informed that the operative you were using is now M.I.A. and you must retrieve them from that zone. The next time you load into that zone, a new objective will be available to retrieve your lost operative. These are by far my favorite objectives. Tearing the operative from grotesque fleshy cocoons, as you rush them back for extraction is an adrenaline fueled roller coaster. Failing the objective doesn’t lose the operative but does take a large chunk of their experience.
Experience points are going to be the main thing that drives you forward through the game. There is an overall experience gain in order to progress you through story and unlock new areas. Each operative has their own experience bar as well. This is used to upgrade their abilities and unlock new weapons for each operative. The progression isn’t too deep but will at least drive you to max level to unlock all the equipment and gadgets. For those interested, there are also cosmetics that you can unlock or purchase with real money. There aren’t many cosmetics to speak of as of writing this review, but those sorts of things are usually added as post launch content.
Get Out There And Kick Some Alien Butt
Rainbow Six Extraction is a bold move by Ubisoft. With the delve into sci-fi, Rainbow Six is heading in a new direction. Extraction is an interesting first step, full of both highs and lows. The framework laid out by Siege drives much of the game and moves it forward. But its so similar at times that it can feel like a large expansion instead of a full game. The random nature of the objectives keeps the replayability high for now. But how long it keeps your attention depends on the kind of support Ubisoft has planned. Fans of Siege should absolutely pick this one up, while newcomers to the series can find a safe entry point to some amazing gunplay.
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