Ubisoft's freshly revealed Rainbow Six Extraction may have been born from Rainbow Six Siege, but it's built to scratch a very different itch. Siege demands close teamwork, but it tilts you against other human players in a somewhat balanced battlefield. Extraction, meanwhile, pushes you to play as a co-operative unit, but the odds are going to be far from fair.
For a start, your enemy isn't human - both in the sense that it's AI-controlled and that it's a bunch of mutant, parasitic creatures called the Archæans. These goo-filled monsters come in a lot of shapes and sizes, but whatever the package, it hates you and it will hurt you. Be that with teeth, spines, acid, gas, explosions, or all of the above.
You and your teammates play with the operators we've come to know and love in Rainbow Six Siege. They bring with them their kit and special abilities, such as Sledge's wall-smashing hammer or Alibi's enemy-distracting holograms. This kit will all help, but you're going to need to be on your toes if you want to survive an Incursion.
Watch our Rainbow Six Extraction gameplay below
Extraction is built to be extremely replayable. Each of its maps is split into three sections, separated by airlocks. When you start an Incursion, each of those locations is assigned a different mission objective from a pool of 15 options. You might need to rescue a scientist, capture a specimen, destroy contaminated nests, or execute an elite unit, for instance. You know what the objectives will be before you pick an operator, so you can respond to what you'll face.
However, another aspect of Incursions is that you can choose to safely extract after completing a section. Rescue the missing operator in the first section of the map but don't feel up to taking on the elite Archæan in the next section? You can extract, banking the XP reward, and live to fight another day. Push through and fail, and not only will you lose the XP you'd earned so far, but you might also lose your operator, forcing you to play a rescue mission to get them back.
Something that adds to pressure of choosing to push on or leave while you're ahead is health. In Extraction you start the mission with a fixed amount of health - take damage and, as you'd expect, it goes down. The twist is that while there are health packs and boosters, none of that regained health is permanent. It dribbles away, meaning if you dawdle your new health points might be all gone by the time you next see combat.
Extraction is designed to keep heaping on the pressure. An Incursion's stages get steadily more difficult, with more and tougher enemies; your health and equipment can all be used up; and always hanging over you is the threat of loss - losing all that glorious XP which you can use to upgrade your operators. Ubisoft isn't talking about progression yet, but they did tell me that the operators at the start of Extraction are the power level they are in Siege. They only go up from there.
All of this is to say that Extraction is a big, boiling pot of potential options. The objectives you're served and the threats you'll face will change from Incursion to Incursion. It's a set of systems designed to be played again and again.
The moment when Extraction came together for me was when it all fell apart. A teammate and I were downed by this weird sentient goo that skated across the floor and stabbed us to death, leaving just one of our squad alive to complete the objective. He had to destroy a batch of contaminated nests. These bulging egg sacs were growing from the walls and ceilings throughout the Arctic facility we were fighting through. As he popped them he was riling up the remaining enemies, as well as spawning new ones into the map.
Judging that it would be best to do things quickly rather than quietly, he started throwing grenades at the nests, which only angered the Archæans more. Soon a whole host of them were coming for him, but not just through the doors - they were breaking through windows, smashing down barricades, even clawing holes through walls. This is Siege's destruction tech at work, and it's excellent to behold - even if it precipitated our one living teammate being torn limb from limb.
This is why Extraction has me interested: it looks like it has the bones of a great night in with friends. I want to make run after run at the same map, trying to get a perfect score, to unlock some new weapon or ability. I want to play on the higher difficulties, creating a challenge that forces our squad to work together, using all our recon tech and breaching gear to outsmart and outgun our enemies.
From what I've played of Extraction, there's a glimmer of Rainbow Six's classic Terrorist Hunt, and not Siege's milquetoast version, but the full-bodied Vegas 2 experience. I hope that when Ubisoft lets us dig beneath the surface of the game we'll find a rich vein of that co-op fun.
Rainbow Six Extraction releases on September 16, 2021 for PlayStation and Xbox consoles, and PC.
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read