Your pals are all about Rainbow Six Siege, but your bag is more story-based and sci-fi. Soon you may be able to have it all, as Ubisoft extends the R6 brand, literally into alien territory.
Rainbow Six Extraction is carrying a LOT of momentum from the continuing success of Siege, confidently transposing gunplay that rewards tactical forethought and masterful execution. Other than the wild new (well, expanded and updated) premise, the key difference between Siege and Extraction is that the latter is dedicated ‘player vs. enemy’; Operator vs. Archæan.
Those of you that took on Outbreak during Operation Chimera in Year Three (2018) have already encountered the Archæans and had a taste of squad-based Rainbow Six style PvE. Whereas Outbreak was grounded in New Mexico, Extraction is a full-fledged expansion that creates a series of scenarios for three-player squads across locations throughout the world.
During a recent two-hour play session, we formed an international team of Operators to push as far as possible into Ubisoft’s exciting, unknown territory. Here is what we learned.
In Extraction, the Archæan threat has evolved considerably, so that Operators are now up against at least 10 variants. Among these, there are assault types that include fast-moving, melee-oriented Grunts, and Breachers that carry throbbing sacks of explosive on hunched backs, with overwatch from Spikers that shoot projectiles with dead-calm sniper accuracy. This frontline has support from Lurkers that buff other Archæans, turning them invisible, while Sticky Spores are tiny pests that attach to targets, distorting the vision of their host.
As AI adversaries go, the Archæans are acceptably alien-life-like, relentless in their pursuit of human prey, cunning in uncommon ways. While rank and file includes humanoid specimens, with recognisable traits from sci-fi giants, such as Halo, Destiny, and Dead Space, they are assisted by sentient ooze, called Sprawl, that slows movement and alerts nearby Archæans. Add to this a constant need to check high and low for Archæan Nests and a gnawing sense of foreboding grows. All of which is starkly juxtaposed with convincing, real world settings.
Our hands-on was limited to the Orpheus Research Centre, out somewhere in Alaska, with echoes of John Carpenter’s The Thing adding to the atmosphere. The ORC is a multi-storey complex, comprising labs and sparsely decorated chill-out areas. Many stairwells, storage rooms, and garages are slotted between airlocks. The latter divide submaps, and in each one a random-assigned map objective must be completed before moving on. Operators may extract after any objective is achieved or continue ahead if resources and courage allow.
Map objectives are the heart of the Extraction experience, linking action to the narrative, slowly revealing intel on how to neutralise the Archæans. Examples include Nest Tracking, and Biopsy, both of which reward stealth above anything else. Elsewhere, the Shutdown objective complements Sabotage, the first setting explosives before the latter requires Operators to guard them against waves of Archæans. There are at least 10 objective types, and eventually methods will become second nature, allowing teams to raise their game and attempt them under more pressure for rewards that improve your chances the next time.
Operators in Extraction are handed a wider range of gadgets than their Siege counterparts, with REACT Tech such as Ammo Satchel, Explosive Harness, Body Armor, and Recon Drone. REACT Tech is limited use, though re-supplies are found in missions. When choosing squads, a traditional load-out comprising, say, smoke grenades, is balanced with REACT Tech to make lighter work of the objectives you know to expect. Sometimes you’ll collect REACT Tech that may reveal its purpose further down the line. Either way, this pursuit of ever more impressive loot is what should keep you coming back, always pushing risk versus reward.
Right now, it is difficult to judge exactly who Rainbow Six Extraction will appeal to most. Experienced Operators usually testing their smarts against human rivals may be looking for another outlet to reward strong R6 tactics and communication. Much more likely, gamers onboarding from Destiny, Dead Space, and maybe DOOM will want to apply puzzle-solving expertise to a noteworthy shooter platform, trusting that gunplay is rock solid to start with.
We will say, with certainty, that the Rainbow Six Extraction concept is robust, based on what we’ve seen. It feels like something real is going down, setting it apart from the competition. Fans of the Alien franchise and/or Amazon Prime’s The Expanse are definitely in for a treat.
Last Updated: June 12, 2021