It’s hard to imagine that Rainbow Six Siege is over six years old already, as it still has a loyal player base. Ubisoft has launched its follow-up with Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction though, and it caters very well to those who enjoyed Siege but were looking for the next thing to tackle. It’s out for all major systems – we tested the game on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction, as it’s called in full, features an alien invasion of earth, and while that theme doesn’t sound all that Clancy-like to us it’s a natural evolution of what Siege brought because it builds on a limited time mode that was featured in that game at one point. The mode (called Outbreak) featured the start of an alien invasion, and Extraction is pretty much a full game where that invasion has now gone global – with several hot zones for you to infiltrate and complete missions in.
Existing and previous Siege players will have a huge advantage in Extraction as it uses a lot of familiar (team) mechanics, but things start off with a few VR training missions to ease you in before you’re sent off to face the Archaeans, the alien race that’s quickly gaining ground on earth. Working from bases in places like New York and San Francisco, the REACT team tries to take out alien nests, while also researching the enemy and saving (or should we say extracting) people from these hot zones.
Rainbow Six Extraction is best enjoyed when playing with a set group of you and two others, but you can also use matchmaking to be set up with strangers if you’re playing solo. Before deployment into a randomized hotzone with randomized objectives, everyone picks an operator. Zones are divided into three sections, joined together with airlocks to separate areas and objectives from one another. You’ll complete these in order, but if you fail one you can still go ahead and tackle the next objective – unless your team requests an immediate extraction. While you don’t get awarded for completed objectives that way, kills do count and help you level up your operatives – who all have unique skills and gear and can be upgraded to level 10 over the course of many missions.
One important mechanic is that you can lose operatives as well, so it’s smart to mix things up when sending them in – lose a strong character when you don’t, your only choice for a rescue mission are underpowered characters that might see you lose all that progress. Succeed and you get your character back, but fail and you basically get a vanilla version instead, without the XP you put into the operative. Characters also need rest in order to recover HP, so that’s another reason to rotate between them.
Changing the difficulty level will have an impact on how many alien enemies occupy a map at the start, though spawn points that aren’t taken out will make sure they never stop coming either. There’s a range of them as well, with weaker units that can easily be taken out and others that appear much smarter as they patrol the area – forcing you to work together in order to take them out. You can also go in guns blazing, but at the higher difficulty levels that tends to be a recipe for getting overwhelmed and it rarely works when faced with a challenging enemy type of objective. The most challenging of objectives come in the shape of Maelstrom Protocol and Assignment missions that are far more challenging than the regular ones. They appear to be geared to the most experienced of players and were something our unit clearly wasn’t ready for yet, but they’re good news for who are afraid they’ll run out challenges to face once they master the base set of objectives.
Lack of content is an issue at launch though, with only four main locations and mission objectives that – despite the randomization – seem to repeat themselves regularly. It’s pretty thrilling if you’re part of a team and just love the Siege formula combined with horde/survival elements and an alien setting, but those not already used to going in with a set group of friends might feel like Extraction is a bit too daunting with the difficulty level cranked up if you’re playing solo with strangers. The game does feature a narrative, but it’s not interwoven enough with the gameplay to keep you engaged that way either. This is a title that begs to be played by those who enjoy cooperative multiplayer sessions, and luckily it supports cross-platform play so hopefully it’ll be easy enough to get a squad together. If you do, this one’s a blast and you’ll spend dozens of hours before longing for more content – which will no doubt come in the coming weeks and months.