Rainbow Six Extraction review: endless grind without the payoff

Playing Rainbow 6 Extraction, Ubisoft’s co-op vs. AI spinoff of its competitive tactical shooter Rainbow 6 Siege, resembles playing all the worst parts of a great video game. The mechanics stay exceptional, however all the brand-new material seems like an unlimited list of RPG side missions that feel predestined to result in something much better however never ever really do.

In Extraction, gamers form teams of as much as 3 to total objectives called Attacks, which can happen in twelve various locations and have 3 random goals each time you pack into a brand-new one. Each gamer chooses an Operator and a loadout, and makes XP for their general account and the particular Operator they’re utilizing.

Extraction revives numerous favorites from the Siege lineup, consisting of Smoke, Ela, Sledge, and Finka, among others, for an overall of 18 playable Operators. The video game likewise consists of a couple of other non-playable operators like Mira, Ash, and Thermite to assist drag you through the cutscenes and objectives, however they primarily function as a pointer that Siege’s characters simply aren’t extremely lovely.

This video game is fatal major, which is a genuine embarassment considered that its outrageous story might have been fertile ground for goofiness. Extraction happens in an alternate world where a few of the United States’ most significant cities (and likewise Alaska) are overrun by an alien race called the Archæans and just a group of Rainbow 6 operators can conserve the day.

An operator pulls a grenade pin as another battle an infected alien creature in Rainbow Six Extraction

Image: Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft

With a range of fully-voiced Operators, Extraction may appear custom-made for in-game small talk, however there’s none to mention. Every minute of every objective is as quiet as a crypt — unless, naturally, a character is calling out their next tactical relocation, like yelling “reloading” for the 400th time in an objective. This ugly tone is basically bearable in the early phases of the video game, however by hour 20 all I desired was for somebody to make one single joke after I eliminated alien number 1,159.

Putting the dull tone aside, a minimum of the shooting feels excellent. All of Extraction’s underlying mechanics originated from Rainbow 6 Siege, and as far as practical sim-lite shooting video games go, it’s about the very best there is. Extraction has a toolbox of over a lots weapons, each of which has a unique kick and adequate recoil to make finding out to manage your spray a vital ability. It’s an embarassment Ubisoft chose to keep Siege’s weapon constraints in location, nevertheless, which implies each Operator has a character-specific toolbox that you can’t blend and match.

Like its source product, Extraction likewise looks unbelievable. Thin supporting walls get ripped with shooting, sheetrock and concrete splinters any place you shoot, and the sneaking Sprawl, an alien-black goo that exudes throughout the ground and slows your motion, covers all over your bullets haven’t touched. The levels themselves seldom feel special, however they were strong enough that I was never ever annoyed to return once again. Regrettably, I can’t state the exact same for the opponents inside them.

To put it simply: Extraction’s aliens are boring. Every area you enter during an Incursion has several spawning pods called Hives. Hives will spawn Archæans if they’re alerted and spread Sprawl across the ground. Along with the Hives, you’ve got various enemies like Grunts, which are basically zombies; Spitters, which shoot at you; Bashers, which hit you a bunch; and the occasional Apex, which spawns other enemies. There are nine other enemy variants, none of which are exciting enough to mention here.

Operators battle aliens in a yellowish screenshot from Rainbow Six Extraction

Image: Ubisoft

Each enemy has a weak spot, and stealth kills will let you take out the enemy without them alerting their friends. This means that almost all of Extraction is spent slowly crouch-walking through similar-looking corridors, firing one shot at a time. If this were intended to be a stealth game, that could be a compelling source of tension. But the discovery mechanics are finicky and unreliable. Occasionally, an errant footstep would give away my position from two rooms away — more frequently, I could walk straight into touching-distance of an Archæan before it had any idea I was there. This ends up making the stealth feel slipshod rather than challenging.

By the time I had played for nearly 20 hours, I simply ran through levels, knowing exactly when and where to step to avoid alerting enemies. When I did happen to attract the attention of a horde of Archæans — a moment that should feel exciting and chaotic — the game instead turned into a muddy mess. Enemy animations stutter across the screen, making headshots lopsided and awkward, and I too often got pinned against the game’s awkwardly designed rooms and bludgeoned to death with no hope of survival.

When your Operator dies during an Incursion, they’re placed on the MIA list, which is one of Extraction’s better mechanics. The next time you return to that specific zone, one of your objectives will be to rescue the missing Operator, which is done by completing an entertaining little minigame where you pull them from an alien tree. Until you complete the rescue, that Operator is locked and unavailable for further Incursions.

In order to keep your Operator from going MIA, you can also choose to extract at any point in the middle of an Incursion, no matter how many of the three objectives you have completed. There’s no price for an early extraction other than missing out on whatever XP the rest of the mission had to offer, so this really never feels like balancing an interesting risk against a reward.

Rainbow Six Extraction - a small team of highly trained special forces invade an alien base, seeking to pull a friend loose from a giant organic tree-like structure.

Image: Ubisoft

Extraction also features a challenge system, a la Call of Duty, that requires you to use specific weapon attachments or abilities. This system is called Studies, and is as close as Extraction gets to specific missions. They’re location-specific, but because there aren’t unique mechanics between the locations, each Study is basically interchangeable with the others. There are over 100 of these in the game and they’re (sadly) the best way to level up.

But the Studies system — like everything else in Extraction — is a grind. For more than 20 hours, I loaded into Incursions, did my three Study challenges, completed my three random objectives, and extracted. At the end of each run, I’d watch the XP counter tick upward toward a new piece of equipment I knew I wouldn’t use. Then I’d start the whole thing again.

Because all of the progression is linear, rewards are just handed to you in a set order, and rarely make you feel significantly stronger. In other words, Extraction is a very flat experience. With more fleshed-out missions, this could be a great game, but as it stands, the system lacks the peaks and valleys of random loot that help make most grindy PVE games fun. The promise of an unexpected high is what makes the grinding worth it. Random drops on guns, upgrades, or any equipment at all could have gone a long way toward making me want to queue up for just one more Incursion for a chance at a rare reward.

Even worse, all these levels and upgrades always feel like they’re pushing you toward something cool, but once you get to the endgame, it turns out they never were. The “end game” is just more of the exact same Incursions, but with harder difficulties, a smaller pool of Operators (which changes every few days), and some modifiers.

Extraction’s grinding is no more or less rewarding than a clicker game. Its best asset is its underlying mechanics, which make for a solid shooter if you can find the right group of buddies with which to play it. In the end, it’s not much more than a way to kill time until better, more interesting games arrive.

Rainbow Six Extraction will be released on Jan. 20 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Google Stadia, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X, and is available on Xbox Game Pass for all platforms. It is also available on Windows PC via Steam and the Ubisoft Connect store. The video game was reviewed on PC using a code provided by Ubisoft. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can discover extra info about Polygon’s principles policy here.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.