Rainbow Six Extraction Review (PS5) – Parasite Blues

Ubisoft’s sci-fi spin on Rainbow Six Siege is an undeniable action-packed thrill ride.

Rainbow Six Extraction feels like something of an experiment with the Rainbow Six brand. Spun off from Siege, Extraction is a science-fiction, high concept fever dream taking inspiration from GTFO, Left 4 Dead and the Alien film franchise. An expansion on Siege’s Outbreak event, Extraction sees the return of the Chimera Parasite and the Rainbow Exogenous Analysis and Containment Team (REACT) fighting to stop its spread.

Laser-focused as a PvE title, Rainbow Six Extraction does away with all PvP, in favour of co-op gameplay. Squads of (up to) three Operators enter infected areas across North America to destroy, study and contain the threat.

While clearly designed to work best when played in co-op, Extraction works surprisingly well when played solo. It’s certainly much more difficult but there’s a certain charm to that difficulty. If you want to tackle the highest levels of Chimera and face the wildest mutations and gameplay modifiers, you’re going to need to bring some friends along. You’re also going to have to work up to it. There’s a lot to unlock grind for in Extraction; for better or worse.

Rainbow Six Extraction Review

The basic gist of Extraction is that you drop into a Hot Zone and face three separate sub-zones each with its own special mission and objective. These subzones aren’t overly large, but they do include plenty of verticality and a maze-like structure which makes them feel larger than they are. Each of the main locations includes three levels with three subzones each. New York includes Liberty Island and a Police Precinct while San Francisco features Tenderloin and Space Foundation. Across these levels, there is an abundance of variety that keeps players engaged and prevents Extraction from becoming all too familiar too quickly. While the Operators and enemies may be the stars of the show, the level design is the unsung hero keeping it all together in Extraction.

Not to mention the aesthetics and artwork. Each location and area in Extraction feels like a real space and looks like it’s been both lived-in and overtaken by an alien force. Whether it’s the unkempt and shabby state of a hurriedly vacated hotel room or the control room of a space mission, Extraction’s environments look and feel sublime to move through. The oozing black of the Chimera Sprawl that covers floors, ceilings and walls bubbles and creeps, swallowing everything in its path. The weird pulsating columns and their almost tree-like structure hint at some kind of natural intelligence and the combination and juxtaposition of both human and alien elements give Extraction its skin-crawling horror vibe. It’s sensational.

The same can’t quite be said of the Archæns. They are suitably creepy and alien but they’re also pretty derivative of just about everything we’ve seen before. They look like standard video game aliens and nothing about them really leaps from the screen in an interesting way. They do the job, nothing more, nothing less.

On loading into a mission, players will initially have access to two of four difficulties. Moderate and Cautious let you dip your toe into the water of Extraction and get a feel for what it’s all about. After you’ve completed some missions, earned some XP and started to unlock features and content, you’ll gain access to Severe and Critical difficulties. While I have managed to complete some Severe missions solo, Critical really seems to require a squad. As you increase the overall difficulty of the mission, Extraction will include additional, stronger Archæns (and more of them) as well as mutations. These mutations can include invisible enemies, caustic sprawl which damages players when they touch it, armoured enemies and the like.

If you’re after a real challenge, and bonus XP, try the harder difficulties, though get ready for shit to go sideways real fast.

The difficulty also increases as you enter each subsequent subzone, with XP only rewarded upon successful ‘extraction.’ There’s a risk/reward element at play and players will need to decide if they can push on to “just one more” zone as opposed to extracting and taking all that sweet XP with them. You’ll be able to make an educated decision about whether or not you’ll flee based on which objective is coming up next. The objectives might be a recon mission or one where you’ll need to plant yourself and defend an area. You may be required to escort a VIP or you may have to face off against an incredibly difficult Protean enemy.

Within each subzone is an airlock, to move onto the next subzone and an extraction point. Players can opt to exit at the extraction point, though it serves a dual purpose as some mission objectives require players to use it. For example, rescuing an MIA Operator, tasks players with returning them to the extraction pod for medivac. Should you be downed twice during a mission, your Operator will be encased in a special stasis foam and then marked as MIA. That Operator will be unavailable to select until such time that you rescue them. And even then, they’ll need time to recuperate. Operators who take damage during a mission, whether they extract or not, can be injured and unavailable until their health recovers. This is a clever way for Ubisoft to force players to use a range of the Operators, learn the skills and level them up.

Each time you load into a hot zone, you’ll know ahead of time which objectives you’ll be required to complete, which allows you to plan and choose your Operator as appropriate. Their individual skills and abilities are invaluable when it comes to completing certain objectives and making the best use of each Operator can make or break your success. As you finish missions and earn XP, you gradually level up the Operator you used as well as your overall REACT level. Doing so unlocks new weapons, tech and gadgets as well as improves your Operator’s skills. It’s through this levelling up that you’ll gain access to higher difficulty levels as well as the tools to play at these levels. That being said, Extraction never really gets ‘easy’ perse. it will keep you on your toes and on the edge of your seat even if you’ve unlocked the best gear.

This comes from both the difficulty you select as well as the design of the game. The Archæns enemies may appear simple and easy to kill, and on their own they are, but when they get into a mob and swarm you, it’s game over man. I can’t even count the number of times I thought I had things under control only to be suddenly and viciously overcome by a group of Archæns hell-bent on painting the pavement with my guts. The types of Archæns are pretty standard too, you’ve got your melee, ranged, exploder, tank, elite and so on. What’s interesting about them is the way they work together and utilise tactics to get the better of you. Sure, often they overcome you with sheer numbers, but you’ll be amazed at how often they’ll outflank and outplay you when you think you’re doing the best you can.

Guns blazing is not the best approach to Rainbow Six Extraction either. This is very much a stealth focused game and the slower and more careful you go, the better you’ll do. Take your time, pick enemies off one by one and stay with your team and you’ll go far. Until you meet the Protean that is. Good luck against those pricks.

Overall, Rainbow Six Extraction is a great co-op (or solo) experience built on the incredibly solid foundation of Rainbow Six Siege. Playing feels excellent and best when you’re barely surviving, sneaking past deadly aliens and using tactics with your squad to eliminate the threat before it can do you any harm.

There’s plenty to enjoy in Extraction, plenty of content and plenty to unlock. It’s a great addition to the franchise and an exciting game to start 2022 with.

Rainbow Six Extraction Review
Reader Rating0 Votes
Tense, tactical gameplay
Great when played solo, even better in a squad
Plenty of content and a dangerously addictive loop
Occasionally feels underbaked and lacking something
Players can be quickly overwhelmed
Long slog to unlock everything
Archæn design is a little lackluster
Leo Stevenson
Leo Stevensonhttps://powerup-gaming.com/
I've been playing games for the past 27 years and have been writing for almost as long. Combining two passions in the way I'm able is a true privilege. PowerUp! is a labour of love and one I am so excited to share.

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