Rainbow Six Extraction first impressions: A solid game, but only with friends

Rainbow Six Extraction Sledge vs Protean SledgeUbisoft

Rainbow Six Extraction marks Ubisoft’s latest release with Team Rainbow in the Tom Clancy universe. Building off Siege’s backbone, Extraction is a solid PvE accompaniment to Siege’s intense PvP experience, but whether it can stand the test of time is unclear.

Assemble your favorite Team Rainbow Operators ⁠— plus friends ⁠— Rainbow Six Extraction is finally here after months of delays. Dropping in around the world to try and save Earth from an alien assault from Archaeans, Extraction takes elements from Siege and transforms it into a solid PvE experience.

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With interesting mechanics, including a unique ranked mode and upgrade system, Extraction on the surface ticks all the boxes for both casuals and hardcores. However, a survival game like this lives and dies by two things ⁠— replayability of missions, and the social aspect. The question now is will those boxes remain checked for the long term?

Rainbow Six Extraction — Key Details

  • Price: $39.99 | £33.99 (Standard), $49.99 | £44.99 (Deluxe)
  • Developer: Ubisoft
  • Release date: January 20, 2022
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox, Playstation

Rainbow Six Extraction trailer

Siege gunplay with interesting upgrade system makes grind worth it

At launch, players will have the option to attempt missions in four different regions ⁠— New York, San Francisco, Alaska, and a mysterious final region. Each region has three different maps, which change based on which of the game’s 14 missions you have to tackle in each operation.

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There are four difficulty levels, giving players new challenges with mutations making you weaker or the Archaeans stronger with each increase. There’s also the Maelstrom Protocol ranked mode for those really wanting to push themselves (more on that later).

The premise? Go in with your team of three, complete your missions, and get out safely. Simple enough.

Rainbow Six Extraction sticks to many of the tried-and-true mechanics that popularized Siege. It makes coming from the PvP tactical FPS to the PvE survival game a lot easier. The gunplay is practically identical, and the (limited) cast of Operators crossing over can help with the learning curve; just pick your Siege main to start with. There’s even reinforcements and environment destruction, which come in handy during some of the more defensive missions in Extraction.

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Rainbow Six Extraction Serial Scan missionUbisoft
You’ll face three different random missions in each Rainbow Six Extraction deployment, making every game slightly different.

However, where Extraction really sets itself apart from Siege ⁠— and other games it’s competing with ⁠— is with the upgrade systems. Getting access to more React Tech (secondary gadgets) the more you play isn’t exactly a novel concept, and neither is the Operator and weapon upgrade system. The way Ubisoft goes about it, leveling up your Operators, their abilities, and weapons after each mission with experience, gives completionists something to grind. The leveling system isn’t locked though. You can slide backwards (not by much) if you ‘die’ one mission and go MIA.

All this coupled with the strategic depth of picking the right Operator for the missions (you see them in Operator select) and taking the right gadgets, Extraction can be everything from a casual drop-in experience to a hardcore min-max theorycrafting adventure.

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Extraction does have solo queue, but it appears frustrating

While Rainbow Six Extraction is designed with co-op in mind, there’s an option to queue up as a solo and play with random players in your region at the same time. However, the nature of the game isn’t necessarily conducive to just jumping on by yourself unless you have managed to level up a decent range of Operators to make sure you can cover whatever bases your team needs.

The option is there which is good. However, throughout the first few hours playing it was hard not to think how infuriating of an experience this game would be playing as a solo. There is a bit of reserved judgment here ⁠given we only tested the game with a full stack — and does come down to your own gaming preference ⁠— but as you push the difficulty higher and the missions get more complex, it will likely get frustrating to play with randoms (even moreso than a PvP game).

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Rainbow Six Extraction operators in helicopterUbisoft
Rainbow Six Extraction relies on the social aspect.

The game itself is also more of a conduit for social interaction with mates than anything else, especially in its casual mission form outside of Maelstrom Protocol. While Extraction is a solid game by itself, it’s made whole by playing with friends.

Maelstrom Protocol perfect for hardcore players

The last selling point of Extraction is its replayability with the vast types of missions, maps, mutations, and Maelstrom Protocol. From experience, the first 4-5 hours of gameplay were all very enjoyable, but it felt like the experience was made more whole by the company rather than the activity. The social factor is important to harp on about, but it’s also worth highlighting the latter, Ubisoft’s take on a ranked mode for Extraction.

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Maelstrom Protocol isn’t made to be easy. It’s there to really test your Operator diversity with its limited selection of picks, as well as how thorough you are with your missions. Weaving through sprawling maps with different mutations in a (near) endless experience ⁠— nine missions instead of the base three ⁠— it’s Rainbow Six Extraction as Ubisoft intends it to be. However, making it a weekly rotation of Operators, along with changing up the maps and objectives, will add a new level of replayability that’s more than just difficulty modifiers.

When it comes to adding a mode to keep hardcore players interested for the future, Maelstrom Protocol is the backbone. Extraction will live and die by this mode. This is a live-service game after all, and new content will be added in the coming months and years. As long as Maelstrom Protocol stays relevant, so will Extraction.

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Dexerto’s take: Try on Game Pass before you buy

Rainbow Six Extraction operators fighting protean at extraction siteUbisoft
Extraction is a solid game, but the price tag might be hard to justify: Try it on Game Pass first.

As an avid Rainbow Six Siege player, the Team Rainbow crossover in terms of operators, as well as big similarities in gunplay, makes Extraction a must-play (at least for a mission or two) if you are familiar with the tactical FPS.

However, the PvE experience isn’t for everyone that Siege is made for. As far as it goes in its genre, there might be more intriguing games for the hardcores (see: GTFO) or the more casual players (see: Left 4 Dead or Back 4 Blood). It might prove to be that Extraction is the perfect middle-ground for this type of genre with a low entry barrier and a near-infinite skill ceiling.

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Dexerto’s Games Editor Lloyd Coombes said it best when he called Extraction “the perfect Game Pass game” in writing this preview, and that’s a very agreeable statement. Good thing it’s launching on PC and Xbox Game Pass for the first few weeks. Whether it can keep players interested for the years Ubisoft is hoping for might be a stretch, but it’s worth a whirl on launch day with your mates.

Previewed on PC

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