In recent years Ubisoft has been making some odd decisions with their IP, most notably their Tom Clancy games. Until a couple of months ago, Splinter Cell’s Sam Fisher was relegated to guest spots as an NPC in the two most recent Ghost Recon games and Rainbow Six Siege and even a shitty mobile game, Elite Squad (which was shut down late last year). They’ve announced XDefiant – a free to play shooter that no one asked for and now, speaking of games no one asked for, they have dropped Rainbow Six Extraction. But hey, no one asked for Immortals: Fenyx Rising and that turned out to be pretty great, so maybe Extraction will be a pleasant surprise? Well, it’s surprising alright. But I wouldn’t call it “pleasant.”
Rainbow Six Aliens
The basic premise is that Rainbow Six Siege Operators have formed “REACT” (Rainbow Exogenous Analysis and Containment Team) who want to study and eradicate an alien threat known as “Archaeans.” These aliens have taken over a handful of cities so as the player you’re tasked with entering certain infestation zones, completing some objectives and upon completion of these objectives, extracting the team.
Not a bad premise for a game on paper. However, what the game turned out to be is a dull, unfun, horribly balanced, co-op slog of a shooter with one of the most frustrating progression systems I’ve ever encountered.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
The decisions in this game are so half-baked or ill-conceived that I honestly don’t know where to begin. How about how if you find an Operator you like (be it for their weapons or their special ability), you had better make sure you make it out with more than half your health otherwise you have to wait a few rounds to use them again because they have to heal? Or how you can’t unlock maps until you reach certain “milestones” which rely on progression that can literally go backwards if you have a bad match.
Mind you, this is a PvE (Player vs. Enemy) game. Not a multiplayer, PvP game with a ranking system. It’s a PvE game that removes milestone progress should you fail the mission. If the missions themselves were all that much fun to play this wouldn’t be much of a problem. They’re not — like, at all. You have to contend with aliens so uninspired they look like animated stick figures that can take a third of your health in one hit – more if they’re “Elite” or exploders, and should you be unfortunate enough to miss a pod, they will spawn incessantly which means you’re guaranteed to wipe because the game features the more “realistic” controls (reloading) of Rainbow Six Siege. These controls were designed for a tactical PvP shooter. Not a game that sometimes throws hordes of enemies at you. Speaking of tactical controls, Extraction has the exact same controls as Siege – which includes going prone and leaning. Two things that in my hours of playing had never found a use for. It’s genuinely mind-boggling that they haven’t tweaked anything to accommodate the spikes in speed of some of the enemy types.
The balance of the game is also way off. With Operators being able to withstand much damage they can only be downed twice. The first time you’re downed, you have the option of a teammate reviving you or self-reviving if you have the consumable for it. The second time you’re downed, a protective shell covers you as you lay there waiting for any remaining teammate to pick you up and take you back to the extraction point. But this doesn’t revive you. Nope. You’re still out and your Operator is unplayable for a few rounds as you, again, “heal.” And should you be unfortunate enough to have two downed teammates? Well, chances are high that all three of you are going to wipe and then reset any progress you made towards the next milestone, and you have a more limited pool of Operators to choose from, which means you’ll probably be stuck with one you don’t like and have to start trying to level them up. As for the unsocial types, you can try the game solo but just know you don’t get AI teammates. You will literally have to do it solo. Good luck with that.
It’s not all bad. Like I mentioned earlier, the controls are the exact same as Siege so movement and gunplay is still great. It sounds great too. And that’s about it.
Game Over, Man
Ultimately, Rainbow Six Extraction is two conflicting games; a realistic shooter that clashes with fantastical (and dull) science fiction game and they just don’t go together. It’s clear the intention is to dole out progress slowly in hopes of players continuing to replay missions over and over to unlock more operators, maps and content. But for that to be viable the game has to be fun. And Rainbow Six Extraction just doesn’t offer anywhere close to the addictive fun (or fun at all) something like this needs to have in order to thrive. I haven’t hated a game this much in a long, long time.
- It controls just like Rainbow Six Siege
- Unfortunately those “realistic” controls don’t mesh well with enemy alien hordes
- Mission objectives aren’t interesting, and get repetitive fast
- Progression is not only frustratingly slow but at times, literally backwards
- Enemy designs are uninspired
- The gameplay loop lacks that addictive hook that kept me wanting to come back
Rainbow Six Extraction review code was provided by the publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 5. You can read SP1st and MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here.