When you think about Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six series, it’s usually rooted in realism and team-based gameplay. While Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction doesn’t move away from what makes the series so good, it has, for the first time, added alien creatures. What could this game bring to the table that hasn’t already been done in the squad-based shooter arena?
Game Name: Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed)
Developer(s): Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: January 20, 2022
Price:$39.99, also on Xbox Game Pass
Rainbow Six Extraction is yet another game in the long-running series. However, this time around, things take a turn for the weird. Instead of going up against a government, squaring off against other operators, or trying to revert a national crisis, this time, you’re fighting something completely different. A mysterious entity from space has made contact with Planet Earth, releasing a parasite that has started contaminating parts of the planet. Along with this dangerous threat is a race of otherworldly creatures that has been classified as the “Archaeans.” The REACT team has been put into place to counter this threat and will travel the globe to study and eliminate this threat.
Yep, we got aliens up in a Tom Clancy game, and it’s something I never thought could happen, but yet here we are.
While many will assume that this game is similar to Left 4 Dead, Back 4 Blood, or other similar games, it isn’t. Unlike those games, where survival is the only objective, here you are provided missions that range from collecting samples, taking out targets, escorting personnel, and more. The only thing that’s the same is that you use weapons to blast creatures into dust, and that’s it. To say they’re the same game would be a disservice. Jumping into Rainbow Six Extraction, you’re given access to a handful of operators, each with their own unique abilities and weapons. While each operator can hold their own, their unique abilities start to shine when you’re playing in a co-op session. My squad and I found out that those abilities can make a world of difference when attempting to complete objectives or falling.
When it comes to Rainbow Six games, they’re mostly known for their incredible gunplay and for requiring players to play as a team. This has carried over into Rainbow Six Extraction, much to my delight. The gunplay is tight and responsive, not that I was concerned about that. Team-based play, on the other hand, can go either way. On the one hand, you can play by going off by yourself and being selfish, if I might add, which can hurt your team.
Or you can play the way that Ubisoft intended and play closely with your team and make the game a bit more enjoyable. It’s not just that playing as a team feels better to me, but it also helps you rack up the XP — more on that later. If you’re the kind of person, who likes to leave your team and fend for yourself. Then you’re better off playing this game in the single-player mode. The co-op gameplay with two or three-player squads ends up being the more exciting and challenging way to play. But to be successful, teamwork is required… no, it’s demanded.
There were times when I’d find my squad getting flanked by Archaeans when trying to do certain objectives. Sometimes the Archaeans would magically appear in front or behind us, despite us already sweeping the area before proceeding. There were times that a single alien would manage to take all of us down because we couldn’t see it. Unfortunately, this happened a lot despite our best efforts.
Your operators aren’t superhuman and can fall during combat, which isn’t a fun experience, especially if you’ve only leveled up a few characters. If an operator does end up downed during a mission, the mode you’re playing will dictate what happens. In single-player mode, unless you have an item that provides a revive, that operator becomes MIA. In co-op mode, you can get knocked down one or two times before they end up going MIA. Going MIA doesn’t spell the end, as you can revisit the level you lost them on and mount a rescue. If you fail on that, I’ve noticed that an MIA operator will come back on their own, but it takes time.
At times it feels like the objectives are overturned, which can easily add to some frustration, regardless of whether you’re playing with a squad or alone. A good example of this was a mission where I had to take down a specific enemy. It seems easy enough, except the enemy has to be unalerted — meaning it can’t see you. Imagine my surprise that despite my best efforts, that blasted enemy could see me no matter what. Or another mission where I had to scan several areas, and the game kept sending wave after wave of crazed bomb kamikaze enemies toward me. It was enough to make me get up before I ended up causing harm to my PC. I hope Ubisoft sees this and makes some tweaks to the gameplay.
Finally, there’s a risk vs. reward system that determines how much XP you ultimately gain. There were times that I got shredded trying to complete an objective and could have decided to extract and take what little XP I earned. Other times, I took my beating and pressed on, somehow managing to complete the level and was awarded for sticking it out. Not every mission was a success, but it was the challenge that I enjoyed — when I wasn’t being mowed down. More on that later.
Visuals and sounds
Rainbow Six Extraction is a looker; there’s no denying that. Every level has a unique look and feel, while the operators, Archaeans, and weapon models look fantastic, as is the lighting, shadows, and reflections. I found myself being amused at times with how much detail has been put into the game. In one location I found a pool table and wondered if the balls could be moved. And sure enough, they could be. There are lots of places where Ubisoft didn’t have to put in the work that they did, but it adds to the immersion and is appreciated.
However, the real star is the audio design. From the weapon sounds, the commands and cries from the operators, explosions, footsteps, the screams from the Archaeans, or those creepy sounds that fill up the environment. Audio cues play an important function in the game, alerting you to approaching or hiding Archaeans, objectives that you need to head to. Overall it’s all impressive stuff. It’s the kind of thing you need to experience directly to appreciate.
Get ready to grind
I’ll be upfront about this; Rainbow Six Extraction is very grindy. To the point where I started to grow frustrated on just how grindy the game is. When you first start the game, you’re able to access a small number of operators, and a default weapons layout. You can see the other operators and weapons, but you attempt to select them you’re told you need to be at this level to access them. Ok, that’s fine, I get that. We have to unlock these, and that’s usually par for the course.
Throughout the missions, you’ll earn XP. Shooting Archaeans, completing objectives, among other things, is how you’ll accumulate XP. As long as you do well, and continue to do so, you won’t have an issue. However, when you do badly, the game severely punishes you by taking away your operative off the board, who’ll eventually need to be rescued at some point. If you continue to do badly, you’ll also notice that your operators will also start to revert levels. Yes, you can and will lose levels, which hurts overall progression. Thankfully, if you do lose an operative and XP along with them, you can still mount a rescue mission. If successful, you’ll get both that operative and the lost XP, back.
The operators will continue to level up, individually, for as long as you use them. This will provide them with new outfits, headgear, abilities, traits, and other useful additions. Weapons can also be upgraded as you level up and will let you swap out parts to customize them to your liking.
How’s the performance?
This is the part of the review where I get to look at the technical bits of the game and provide some helpful syntax regarding performance. For my gameplay sessions, I played Rainbow Six Extraction on a PC equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5900x, RTX 3080 Ti, and Windows 10. Seeing how I had access to an RTX series card, I wanted to see how well Nvidia’s DLSS and Reflex fared. I set it to performance was hitting over 100 FPS in at 1440p, a little less at 4K. Changing it to quality didn’t see much of a dip in performance, either. This was my first time trying out Nvidia’s Reflex technology, but now that I’ve tried it, I’m a believer. I definitely noticed a difference in just how well I could react when in a heated firefight.
For those who don’t have access to the latest video cards, you’re not out of luck. Ubisoft has also included a dynamic resolution that targets 30/60/90/120 FPS, and a resolution quality toggle. Ubisoft also included an in-game benchmarking tool, so you can see how your PC will perform before you start playing. I’m all for this and wished more developers followed this example. That way, you can tweak the game to provide you with a better gaming experience.
Ultrawide screen support is also in, though it stretched the screen too much. It’s totally playable; I didn’t like the looked, so I enabled the black bars option which looked considerably better.
My only issue was every once in a while is that my mouse cursor would disappear occasionally. I could still use it in-game, just not in menus. Another person playing with me during the review also had this happen to them. We couldn’t replicate it, it just happens.
Keyboard, mouse, or gamepad?
While I normally play my First Person Shooters with a keyboard and mouse, I did get a few sessions in with the Xbox Series controller, which worked out pretty damned good. All I had to do was adjust the sensitivity, and I was mowing down the Archaeans as if I was on my KBM setup. And yes, you’re able to remap and bind all of the keys and buttons. So, don’t worry about that.
I’ll be honest: I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Rainbow Six Extraction. I’ve had my fair share of games, again, such as Left 4 Dead, Back 4 Blood, to name a few and I wasn’t looking to play another one. However, upon giving the game a fair try, it opened my eyes to the amount of action, customization, and the squad-based combat (and disaster) it presented me with. I didn’t expect to become so engrossed with the game — now I can’t put it down.
That said, there’s a bit of frustration regarding the game’s balancing. You’re doing so well during one session that the game even comments that perhaps this is too easy. At other times, just two hits from anything will render you into a drooling poodle on the ground. Other than this, I enjoy Rainbow Six Extraction and will recommend it if asked.
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Rainbow Six Extraction is Ubisoft’s latest attempt in the squad-based tactical shooter area with a new twist that works for the series. Now, if only they would address the game’s balancing concerns.
- Lots of customization options
- PC performance is exceptional
- Sound Design is on point
- Nvidia DLSS and Reflex are amazing if you have the hardware
- If not, the game still plays well
- Lossing an operator due to cheap balancing
- Leveling every character is a chore
- Ubisoft, please address the game balancing