A Quick Jaunt Through The Containment Zone

HIGH Get in, get out — nice and speedy.

LOW Pay-to-display cosmetics with no way to be earned in-game.

WTF Only America needs saving, apparently.

A mysterious parasite has landed in America and it’s up to the world’s most elite operators to hold back the threat.

In Rainbow Six: Extraction, players take control of REACT (Rainbow Exogenous Analysis & Containment Team) members, entering containment zones to mow down hordes of zom — er, “Archæans” — and collect data to fuel research in the fight against the alien menace. And they’ll do so, ideally, with a few friends by their side.

The latest Rainbow Six offering enters an increasingly-crowded market of co-op shooters. Turtle Rock recently released its Left 4 Dead successor Back for Blood while the hardcore horror stylings of GTFO had a full release just last month. Meanwhile, Steam has its own selection of early access titles like Ready or Not that are gaining their own fanbase.

Besides the polish of a triple-A production, what sets Ubisoft’s first-person foray apart from some of these other titles is its pick-up-and-play model. Party up, select a location and difficulty, choose an character (known as Operators) and loadout, and then get in and get out — often all within a timeframe of 20 minutes or less.

Hibana is a  REACT operator that uses the X-Kairos grenade launcher that can blow enemies up or breach walls to ambush archaeans in “Rainbow Six Extraction.” (Ubisoft)

For the main missions, players choose a location from one of four main areas — New York, San Francisco, Alaska, and the town of Truth or Consequences in New Mexico. Each match is broken down into three separate sections and is modular, meaning the objectives, variety of enemies and map order are randomized (plus the occasional “mutation” difficulty modifier to spice things up). The result is that each match will be unlike another, forcing players to consider whether they’ll take a stealth or guns a-blazing approach. Or they can even, as the game allows, simply extract when the situation gets too hot.

Before being inserted, players will want to think carefully about their loadouts. Selecting the right tools for the right job here is key. For example, for missions with a “Biopsy” objective, stun grenades will be crucial to daze the elite Archæan target if and when the stealth approach fails, as grabbing the sample via takedown is only possible when a creature is not in an ‘alerted’ state.

A more active objective like “Sabotage” requires players to plant explosives on parasitic nodes and then defend them from an attacking horde as the timer ticks down. Having access to a placeable turret is a great aid in slaughtering Archæans as they rush to destroy the set charges.

This modular design and quickness of each session are Extraction’s strong suits, but they come at a cost. While players will still get the occasional pulse-pounding firefight when the proverbial excrement hits the fan, there are no climatic set pieces or big boss moments to bookend a run. Although there is one objective type — “Gateway” — that is essentially a boss fight against a super-powered parasitic Operator, it’s still only a possibility rather than a carefully-crafted narrative capstone. That said, there is a certain tactical coolness to quickly dispatching baddies while efficiently moving through a mission. If nothing else, the game works at allowing players to capture the feeling of being one of the world’s most highly-trained agents.

Ubisoft has a nice cinematic opening video to set the scene but otherwise plot is not the driver here — there are no major turning points or any ending, although that could come in the future as Extraction is being positioned as live-service model.

While there’s not much plot to speak of, the intended motivation is ostensibly leveling up to unlock new areas, operators and gadgets. It won’t keep players engaged indefinitely, though — while there is a ranked timed mode and I’m sure more to come in the future, I’m doubtful Extraction will have the same longevity as its competitive PVP counterpart, Rainbow Six: Siege. Bot enemies can just never be as dynamic and engaging as real players and there isn’t much motivation to continue to play besides superficial unlocks.

There are also, of course, cosmetics to unlock through progression. But, like any good AAA title of the past five years (and perhaps especially so with Ubisoft), there is also a real-world currency system. The REACT credits are unique to Extraction with no connection to their Siege equivalent. The storefront also differs from Siege’s expansive offerings in that there is no alternate currency that can be earned through in-game play — these require real-world cash to acquire.

Like any of its ilk, this is a game best played with friends. Communication is key and any gamer is sure to know that playing with randoms is a mixed bag. For those unable to secure a full team of three, missions do scale according to how many people are in the party. I actually grinded through some solo play myself, and while it was far from miserable, it certainly demanded a more stealth approach — when I went down, there was no one there to revive me.

All in all, Rainbow Six: Extraction is a well-built and decidedly good co-op experience — it’s just not a great one. It doesn’t offer revolutionary gameplay, big wow moments, and doesn’t seem to have much of a beating heart. But if a player is looking for an enjoyable distraction — and frankly, who isn’t during these endlessly unprecedented times? — this is one title that makes it easy to grab a few friends and launch a mission without a big commitment.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

— Stephen Cook

Disclosures: This game is developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is currently available on PC, PS4/5, XBO/X/S. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 2 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. 15 hours of play were spent in multiplayer modes. Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated Mature and contains Blood, Drug Reference, Strong Language and Violence.

According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains Blood, Drug Reference, Strong Language and Violence. The official description reads as follows: This is a first-person shooter in which players lead a special forces squad against an alien invasion across American cities. Players use pistols, machine guns, and explosives to kill mutant creatures and alien parasites, cleansing containment zones throughout each city. Battles are frenetic, with realistic gunfire, screams of pain, and large explosions. Squad members emit large splashes of blood when attacked and killed; large blood stains are depicted in some environments. A handful of scenes depict marijuana plants and a drug lab with packets of drugs and white powder. The words “f**k” and “sh*t” are heard in the game.  

Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are present.  

 Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. The subtitles can be altered and resized. The game also features visual cues to indicate the direction of enemy footsteps or other audio clues. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: Yes, this game offers fully remappable controls. It is playable via mouse and keyboard or controller.

Stephen Cook
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1 year ago

What a well-written review on Rainbow six extraction and I tend to agree with the author on a lot of his points. Thanks!