For Rainbow Six Extraction, Ubisoft extrapolated the fan-favorite Outbreak game mode from Rainbow Six Siege and expanded it into its own game. In it, players must face, study, and combat a deadly alien species called Archaeans across four notable theaters of war: New York City, San Francisco, Alaska, and Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
Rainbow Six Extraction, at its core, is a three-player PvE game where tactics outweigh raw FPS skills. Players must complete a variety of objectives in each Incursion, the title each gameplay session carries, and do so with a variety of weapons, gear, and operators. This creates some intense moments and requires some forethought and management on the player’s behalf, but ultimately, it feels little more than a game mode of something much larger.
In general, Rainbow Six Extraction excels in sheer fun factor during its moment-to-moment gameplay. Weapons are distinct enough to truly enjoy, while the choice of a suppressor versus another attachment offers its own fun risks, and various tactical options all supplement the importance of combat. Completing an entire Incursion can feel rewarding, while calling for an early extraction doesn’t feel like a failure. It’s a tactical experience for hardcore Rainbow Six gamers and invites players to test their skills and bask in the small victories.
For that hardcore audience, Rainbow Six Extraction offers even harder and more rewarding experiences. Once players progress far enough, they can unlock Wall-to-Wall Assignments and Maelstrom Protocol. The former is essentially a well-done Horde mode, where all the weight of a single Incursion still matters but pure combat takes the lead. Maelstrom Protocol, its ranked PvE mode, really serves as a way for hardcore players to show off their skills in the hardest and longest Incursions. These refresh every week too, making sure that hardcore players always get new challenges.
Rainbow Six Extraction boasts 18 operators, 12 maps, 13 overall missions, 25 gadgets, 69 weapons, and 13 enemy archetypes, but players will quickly run through all of them. Players will always drop into an Incursion with three objectives, and there are not really enough objectives in the game to keep this lively. Players can only destroy nests, silently take down enemies, and rescue MIA Rainbow Six Extraction operators so many times before the new game shine wears off. Those aren’t the only three objectives, of course, but it will certainly feel like it after a few hours.
It would help if the maps brought more variety to these Incursions, but they all look incredibly similar. It doesn’t matter if it’s in New York City or Alaska, as the amount of Sprawl (a goo left everywhere by Rainbow Six Extraction's Archaeans), Nests, Blinding Spores, and general decay make it so any map’s differences are largely inconsequential. The only real change that maps bring to gameplay is the difficulty in online Incursions, as New York City is set to the easiest setting and Truth or Consequences is set to the hardest.
Where Rainbow Six Extraction does shine is in its operator management. Players will instantly have access to 9 of them, while the other 9 are unlocked through progression. Damage sustained in an Incursion carries over, meaning players have to let their characters heal in real-time while using other characters in different Incursions. This ensures players learn a multitude of characters, instead of focusing on one or two as in most online multiplayer games. Furthermore, losing a character means XP they’ve received toward overall progression is held hostage too, which incentivizes survival and recovery when possible.
Unfortunately, the characters themselves are fairly bland. Some Rainbow Six Extraction abilities and loadouts are also head and shoulders above others, meaning some characters will always be the last pick for Rainbow Six Extraction players. The bland designs of the characters is worsened by the in-game microtransactions as well.
Skins in Rainbow Six Extraction are largely recolors with a design change or two. But, every character has one legendary skin with a unique design but they can only be purchased with real-world money. On top of that, the items in the store are also much more unique than the standard designs, with one turning an entire character into a bipedal cat, one replacing a head with a TV, and so on. Microtransactions are nothing new, but these feel as predatory.
As a multiplayer game, players will often be online playing with friends or randoms, but the online experience is lacking. There is a vast difference in terms of Rainbow Six Extraction gameplay when playing alone, with randoms, or with friends—much worse than in standard multiplayer games. In solo play, a lot of the pressure isn’t there and players have more control over difficulty, but some gameplay aspects are more punishing.
Blinding Spores, for example, are environmental dangers that attach themselves to players and eventually blind them, which is incredibly dangerous when dealing with an onslaught of Archaeans. In a team, these can be shot or hit off a player but in solo play, the only option is to use a stun grenade or ability. Without the proper setup, it’s impossible.
Playing with friends makes this easier, and it also makes it a lot more fun. Multiplayer allows the tactical gameplay of Rainbow Six to shine, while concerns about limited objectives fall to the wayside. Unfortunately, that is lost when playing with randoms.
Rainbow Six Extraction’s entire focus on objectives makes random teammates a mixed bag. Some teammates will rush in on the hardest difficulty and drop within the first minute of the match, ignoring the objective completely. It’s designed for a hardcore audience who want to go in slow, take their time, learn the layout, take out enemies, and plan assaults, breaches, and defenses, but that’s not the standard experience of online shooters, and it shows. This isn’t necessarily a fault of the game itself, just the nature of random online matchmaking, but having teammates who don't play the objective in an objective-based game drags the entire experience down.
Despite this, Rainbow Six Extraction is technically sound. Aside from a bug when it comes to not completing revives and not connecting to a server (fixed by just simply readying back up, with matchmaking currently taking seconds at most), Rainbow Six Extraction had no issues during our playthrough. The technical polish is a standout aspect of the game, really making the core experience as fun as it can be.
Rainbow Six Extraction is a mixed bag of good ideas and weak implementations. It’s unfortunate that the bad manages to outweigh the good, because underneath it all, Rainbow Six Extraction's gameplay approach holds promise. It’ll be interesting to see how Ubisoft supports this title in the weeks and months to come, but it’s really hard to see how it can fix a lot of core issues within the game.
Rainbow Six Extraction is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Game Rant was provided an Xbox Series X code for the purposes of this review.