Rainbow Six Extraction Review: Fun Online, Boring Offline

In 2018, Ubisoft introduced a limited-time mode in Rainbow Six Siege called "Outbreak." The cooperative multiplayer mode tasked players with taking out alien opponents, rather than humans. A few years have passed, and that concept has evolved into a full game in the form of Rainbow Six Extraction. The game maintains enough Rainbow Six elements to compel long-time fans, but its team-based shooter elements help it stand out from previous series entries. As a result, it offers something different enough that could draw in players less familiar with the series.

In Rainbow Six Extraction, an alien race known as the Archaeans has invaded Earth, and it's up to the REACT team to learn more about them. Players select from a pool of Operators, then head to an incursion point with a set of three specific goals. The preliminary goal in each stage tasks players with something on the easier side, like extracting a sample from a specific Archaean enemy. Whether the player succeeds or fails at the preliminary task, they then have the option of checking out another goal, like rescuing a hostage, or they can choose to head back to the extraction point, instead. The further players go, the more difficult these tasks become, but the more rewards they receive. 

There are two ways that players can fail a mission: either they don't manage to accomplish their task in the allotted time, or all Operators go MIA in the field. Operators in Rainbow Six Extraction don't "die;" instead, when their health runs out, they are covered in Stasis Foam. A teammate must then carry them to the extraction point. If a teammate succeeds at getting them extracted, the session ends for the defeated player, and the Operator will be considered injured and temporarily unusable for the next incursion. However, if neither of their teammates is able to get that Operator to an extraction point, the player can then revisit that same incursion point in a follow-up session, and extract them as one of the incursion goals. If the player fails to extract that Operator once again, the Operator will come back, but they will lose a portion of their experience. 

(Photo: Ubisoft)

It will be interesting to see how Rainbow Six Extraction players feel about the MIA element. On one hand, I think it's a smart way to force players to learn how each of the game's Operators handle. I tend to prefer faster characters, but injuries and MIA players often forced me outside of my comfort zone, and I thought that was a good thing. Each Operator has their own distinct ability; I was a big fan of Alibi's ability to create holographic dupes to trick her opponents, but I also became a fan of Doc's healing abilities after being forced to choose someone else. This adds to the game's already strong strategic element.

If there's one problem I had with the game's Operators, however, it's in their character designs: they really are on the bland side. As someone less familiar with the Rainbow Six games, the designs and lack of colors really made the Operators blend together for me. The only one that really stood out for me was Vigil, but only because he looks like a dollar store knock-off of Marvel's Sin-Eater. It's possible these blander designs were an intentional effort to steer players to purchase DLC skins, but it made me feel less invested in the characters.

In addition to the three-player online co-op, Rainbow Six Extraction offers single-player incursions. Single-player is a welcome inclusion, but it gets a little tedious after a while. Solo play allows for much less room for error, and if you're a shooter fan that's more interested in jumping in, guns blazing, you'll quickly find yourself overwhelmed. I found online to be much more enjoyable, and far less frustrating. When you have no teammates to lean on, or help you recover, the game can quickly grow monotonous. It's a nice option for those that might not have the time to hop online, but it doesn't hold a candle to the game's main attraction.

(Photo: Ubisoft)

The Archaean enemies might be the real highlight of Rainbow Six Extraction. Ubisoft Montreal has come up with opponents that are downright creepy, and they add a significant amount of tension to each session. I wouldn't label this as a horror game, but there are enough horror elements present that it could convince players to check out Extraction, even if they aren't as familiar with the Rainbow Six universe.

Rainbow Six Extraction is a solid team-based shooter, with creepy enemies and strong gameplay. The game's Operators are enjoyable to use, even if they don't quite stand out from one another, and the online multiplayer is a lot of fun when you can partner up with a good team. If you're looking for a solo shooter that will keep your attention, you might want to steer clear of this one. For everyone else, Rainbow Six Extraction is a fairly enjoyable experience.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Rainbow Six Extraction is set to release January 20th on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Amazon Luna, Google Stadia, and PC. The game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review, and it was reviewed on an Xbox Series X.