Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction Review
This really should have been a one-off expansion for Siege.
Back in the Spring of 2018, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege received the Operation Chimera update. In it came a limited-time event called Outbreak, a PvE zombies-like game mode. This mode never returned in any shape or form since then. Four years later, that event is now a full, standalone game called Rainbow Six Extraction. I’m left with so many mixed feelings about the game, given that it’s good from a gameplay perspective, but strays away from what the Tom Clancy games were all about.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction is a spinoff title that takes place in the Rainbow Six Siege world. Following loosely from the events of the Outbreak event in Siege, a Soyuz rocket from Russia crashed at Truth or Consequences, New Mexico which triggered a parasitic outbreak into an epidemic and soon into a pandemic. Rainbow Operator Eliza Cohen (Ash) and a handful of Operators from Team Rainbow mobilize against this threat.
In efforts to contain this virus, the Rainbow Exogenous Analysis and Containment Team (REACT) was formed. With Team Rainbow on board with handling this threat, many faces will be familiar to fans of the Siege franchise including fan favorites like Tachanka and Ela just to name a few. You’ll play as or see these familiar faces interacting with you like the aforementioned Ash. Thermite and Mira are also seen to be crucial in the organization’s efforts in quelling this extraterrestrial virus, more formally known as the Chimera Parasite.
On one hand, it’s really exciting to see the world of Rainbow Six Siege expanding with a more narrative-driven focus. These Operators have so much untapped potential to have their stories told, especially when many of us are drawn to their identities like their nationalities or quips.
On the other hand, seeing this franchise now going into sci-fi alien shooter territory feels like it’s defiling the legacy that Tom Clancy left. Had this just become a separate game mode like Call of Duty games have with Zombies, this would be easier to overlook. The fact that this game exists is puzzling, to say the least.
Surprisingly, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction is a really fun game. It strays away from your typical zombie shooter games where you’d fight off massive waves of hordes. The game is much slower, methodical, and tactical. You can’t just spray a bunch of bullets into a wave of zombies and call it a day. You have to gear up accordingly when taking on Incursions.
…seeing this franchise now going into sci-fi alien shooter territory feels like it’s defiling the legacy that Tom Clancy left.
The game will throw you into four separate locales, ranging from places like New York City, San Francisco, Alaska, and New Mexico. Each area is separated into three separate places of interest— or Hot-Zones. Comparing their sizes to Siege, these are significantly larger in scale and do bring back the destructible environments.
Upon entering a Hot-Zone, each mission starts you off at an extraction zone where you’ll be met with the hostile aberrations spawned by the Chimera Parasite, which are called “Archæans” (for stylistic purposes, I’ll refer to them as just Archaeans or “Archies”). These Archaeans are sentient and anthropomorphic.
Their designs feel generic and follow the typical functions and roles of zombie enemies in games of the same genre. You have Grunts which are the cannon fodder, the Bloaters and Breachers which are the volatile infected. There are also Smashers which are the big nasties that take a lot to kill, but have a clear weak point; then you have Apexes which are summoners. There are more variants, but you get the point.
You’ll take on different layouts of enemies and different objectives in each mission. This is what keeps the game refreshing: you can become familiarized with mission objectives and enemy types, but they won’t be in the same places or instances every time.
The Archaeans are also very lethal, even the Grunts. Like mentioned earlier, this game is slower, methodical, and tactical. You have to know when and where you’d want to strike against these Archaeans. All it takes is for one bad move to get killed.
The game does emphasize quite heavily on stealth, given that the majority of your guns come equipped with silencers by default. It isn’t the only viable option here, but for many instances, at least in the early game, it’ll help get you used to the tactical and methodical combative approaches. R6 Extraction relies heavily on environmental and auditory awareness.
You have to know where footsteps are coming from, where possible Archaean Nests are laid so you can prevent more Archies from spawning. You have to know any possible exits, crevices, and destructible environments you can use for a tactical advantage. This is perhaps the most fun aspect of the game aside from its gunplay.
Rainbow Six Extraction is so reliant on the tactical options you’d use in Siege— even the Operators you choose. Unfortunately, out of the 62 current Operators from Siege, there are only 18 in Extraction. It’s a very small number, and hopefully, more of them are added in post-launch.
Luckily with the number we have, there are plentiful combinations of tactics to work with. What’s slightly different here from Siege is that the Operators in Extraction can use different gadgets than what they were used to from the multiplayer shooter. If you use Tachanka, you can use frag grenades instead of his barbed wire or deployable shield.
The customization is very solid here on the gameplay and cosmetic level. There’s a lot to delve into despite the drastically cut roster.
Unlike many other class-based shooter games, Extraction doesn’t require players to grind heavily to get into endgame activities. The only major differences between higher-leveled players and noobies are the access to more gear, weapons, and some slight perks. Loadouts are as simple as picking a weapon and gadgets, so Extraction is easy to pick up without being too lost or left behind.
One final aspect of what keeps the game refreshing is the Operator Status system. You have a roster of 18 characters or Operators, but they can be injured or go MIA in missions. In the case where your Operator completes a mission with 1 health remaining, they will be decommissioned in subsequent missions until their health goes back up. Should they fall in combat during an Incursion, they will be labeled MIA and become unusable until they are rescued by another Operator.
This creates a risk-reward system that also encourages the player to pick different classes. At least this provides a sense of realism and tactical play that many like about the Tom Clancy franchise. You can die easily and if you do, there will be consequences later on.
There is a handful of rotating weekly endgame modes like the Wall-to-Wall, Kick the Anthill, and Veteran modes that will test the different abilities and strategies players come up with. Then there’s the Maelstrom Protocol mode that forces players to only choose from a preselected group of Operators to take on gradually harder objectives. This is the ranked mode of the game. All of the endgame content will require a full squad to play, so you do have to bring your A-Game to make it out alive and join the ranks.
The game is rather short, and it’s properly reflected in its price point. Still, as the many mixed feelings here suggest, Extraction really could have been an expansion or new game mode to keep the ever-popular Siege alive for years to come.
Rainbow Six Extraction is a mixed bag of right and wrong. It’s carried primarily from its tactical, yet intense gameplay. In concept, it strays completely away from what actually defines a Tom Clancy game. The slower-paced, yet intense gameplay is phenomenal, but it’s only because it’s working off the solid foundation laid for Siege back in 2015. It’s a standalone title that loses footing in creating a more original identity for itself.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Extraction
- Score: 3 / 5
- Available On: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC (Epic Games, Ubisoft Store, Stadia)
- Published By: Ubisoft
- Developed By: Ubisoft Montreal
- Genre: Tactical first-person shooter
- US Release Date: January 20, 2022
- Reviewed On: PlayStation 5
- Quote: "Rainbow Six Extraction is a mixed bag of right and wrong. It’s carried primarily from its tactical, yet intense gameplay. In concept, it strays completely away from what actually defines a Tom Clancy game."