Rainbow Six: Extraction: Hands-On Preview
The Rainbow Six franchise has simply not been one that I’ve spent nearly enough time with over the journey. At its inception I was a one-track JRPG-minded kid, and it wasn’t until Rainbow Six: Vegas that I properly paid it some attention. Even then, I still never gave it a chance. It wasn’t until Rainbow Six Siege that I found myself exploring the many intricacies of the franchise, and while competitive multiplayer isn’t generally my thing, I was quite taken by the aforementioned intricate details, the tactical play, and the chaos that ensues when the proverbial hits the fan. Thanks to the incredibly kind folk at Ubisoft Australia, I was recently fortunate enough to go hands-on with the upcoming Rainbow Six: Extraction, a game that speaks more to my sensibilities than any franchise entry to date. On paper I was interested, co-op PvE, with those finer nuances present in Siege made Extraction an appealing prospect, but now that I’ve gone hands-on with it, I can more confidently say that this is the Rainbow Six game that has me genuinely ready to invest.
For the millions upon millions of Siege players, the mechanical aspects of Extraction will feel quite familiar to you. The way the guns function, the necessary inputs, your load-out – there’s a lot that the pair have in common, but the fundamental difference is the jump from competitive, squad-based action, to the squad-based cooperative play. For some, this may make the game feel less frantic at first, but rest assured, the adrenaline will soon get pumping. Extraction has a host of different objectives for players to complete from round-to-round:
- Specimen, where you need to taunt and “encourage” an alien target with chaos playing out around you to the extraction point
- Decontamination requires players to extract samples from contaminated nests by getting up close and personal
- Nest Tracking sounds easy enough, but you need to pass through the lethal masses to place trackers on inactive nests before extracting
- Triangulation sees you finding 3 laptops scattered across the environment to collect intel from them
- Serial-Scan gets you hunkered down as you secure an area on the map as waves of Archaeans flood in to take you out
- Hunt gives your squad some specific targets to take out
- Rescue tasks you with recovering a high-value target who you need to promptly extract
- Shutdown requires you to take out three parasite towers based in different locations on your map
- Sabotage necessitates some tower defence, bringing explosives to a sabotage tower, and defending it until the job is done
- Biopsy delegates you and your squad to collect samples from a Archaean targets
- Gateway sees a powerful Archaean variant emerge on the other side of a singularity gateway that you need to travel to and eliminate
- No One Left Behind and Missing In Action are both quite similar in that they both involve you recovering lost or fallen Operators and bringing them to the extraction point
The list of potential objectives (you’ll only have a few for each run) are as diverse as they are plentiful, and of all that I tried in my 3+ hour session each tested my mettle in different ways. Each run is split into three subzones, each subzone tasking to you with the completion of one of the aforementioned objectives, and with each objective you overcome, the next becomes harder. If the going gets a bit tough at any point, you can extract at any time, but be careful to not overcommit. Should you fall at any stage those Operators are unavailable to you until you can head out and recover them. This looming punishment for failure will be a constant reminder to play smartly, safely, and conservatively. Even if you escape with your life, if your Operative is significantly injured, they will also need a few rounds to recover before they’re ready to head out again. Each of Extraction’s four regions can have their difficulties scaled to tailor the experience to your squad’s preference, while on the more extreme end Maelstrom Protocol tosses the kitchen sink at you with a huge number of sub-zones to take on in the most gruelling aspect of Extraction for players looking for the ultimate challenge.
Because you’ll likely find yourself with Operatives out of commission at various points, and the skillsets of some certainly suit particular situations better than others, players will need to make it a priority to venture out with a host of Operatives of different varieties, to boost their proficiency, and their Operatives levels to ensure that no matter the squad makeup that you find yourself in, there’s always a good team balance.
The moment-to-moment action of Extraction shines brightest of all elements of the coming title. Though not an overwhelming amount, there’s always a lot going on from sub-zone to sub-zone, from nests that spawn Archaeans to poisonous spores in the environment, Archaeans of a number of differing varieties, the rapidly spreading toxic mass consuming any environment the Archaeans inhabit (that then impedes your movement, and destructible environments that will forever keep you on your toes, but will also itself serve as opportunity for you to exploit. The shooting is sublime, each Operator’s Weapon and React Tech load-outs perfectly suit the Operator themselves, and if your team functions as such, complements each other wonderfully well, the movement, whether you’re using a controller or a mouse, works a treat. Players with controller may find themselves frustrated more than PC players when they’re required to shoot down spores or sludge because these are small (in the case of the spores), and both small and mobile (in the case of the sludge) – because they’re essential to take out whenever you see them, you’re either going to leave yourself somewhat vulnerable as you take the time to precisely take them out, or you’re exhausting unnecessary amounts of ammo to do so. In my session where there was a mixture of controller and mouse/keyboard players, it was easy to spot the difference.
By the time this goes live Extraction will be just two weeks away, and things are shaping up extremely well. The title pulls on all the right strings from the uber-popular Siege, but injects its own franchise first elements into the mix to keep things fresh. The action feels great, the world, despite it’s ugly degradation, looks sensational, the collaborative balancing seems to be on the mark, and the levelling system appears reasonably balanced as well – it looks like Ubisoft won’t need to worry about the game starting slowly like its predecessor did, Extraction looks set to go viral, fast.
Time Until Launch (January 20, 2022)
Rainbow Six: Extraction was played via remote streaming on PC with thanks to Ubisoft Australia