Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Extraction Review

Richard Walker

Game development is hard. Undoubtedly, it's remarkably difficult, and I'm almost certain that I'd have a tough time working as a developer. But then, every now and again, I'm confused by how utterly bizarre concepts manage to get off the ground - let alone actually make their way to market - like, say, a Tom Clancy game in which Team Rainbow ditch the tactics to fend off an alien parasite. How Ubisoft Montreal came to see Rainbow Six Extraction as a 'good idea' is a mystery, but the uninspired execution, bland first-person shooter mechanics, and one-note gameplay makes the game's existence a particularly boring mystery, all the more ponderous.

Yeah, this isn't good.

It's especially odd to experience such an underwhelming shooter grow from the infinitely more accomplished Rainbow Six Siege: a game that, after a rocky launch, has evolved into a smart, tactical FPS with seemingly endless longevity. Extraction is neither smart nor tactical. Instead, you’re presented with a trio of randomly generated objectives prior to each mission, before being dropped into a level and let loose on a horde of spiky aliens, known as Archæans. Extraction's otherworldly enemies fall into a number of established archetypes, whether it's the gangly humanoid Grunt; the scuttling Breacher, which runs at you and explodes; the Rooter, which tethers you to the floor with grasping tendrils that erupt from the ground; and the Spiker, an armoured version of the Grunt that can fire projectiles – by and large, they're all fairly forgettable.

Other parasitic monsters like 'Smashers' are pretty self-explanatory, and despite a variety of foes that do different things, a dearth of randomly assigned objectives do little to keep things fresh or interesting. Invariably, you're tasked with tagging nests, destroying so-called 'Aberrant Nests' and extracting a sample, taking down a designated elite enemy, or protecting a planted charge while it counts down to detonation. They're game objectives you'll have come to malign in the past (escorting a wounded scientist dweeb to an extraction point, anyone?) so don't be surprised if you feel a palpable sense of déjà vu when playing the new Rainbow Six.

Destructibility has been brought over from Rainbow Six Siege, and is supposedly meant to add a tactical wrinkle to Extraction, but here, it feels surplus to requirements. It's nice to have, especially since smashing through a wall as hammer-wielding Operator Sledge will never get old. But, save for the occasional jump scare as an Archæan bashes through a chipboard partition, or a quick shortcut facilitated by a shotgun blast or grenade, breakable walls are pretty pointless. You can't help but picture a design meeting at Ubisoft Montreal, in which the developer shrugged and said “well, it was in Rainbow Six Siege, so we may as well stick it in here, too”. It's a shame Ubi didn't bring across the weighty and satisfying gun handling, instead.

For the most part, weapons in Extraction lack impact, the game's enemies reeling from shots before collapsing into glowing red particles. It might have been nice had we been given the ability to dismember aliens, blow their heads off, or knock holes out of them... but no such luck. If you crave variety from Extraction, one of the few places you'll find it is in the selection of eighteen Operators (twelve of which are unlocked as you reach certain Milestone levels). Cherry-picked from R6 Siege, each is armed with their own weapons and abilities, encompassing Doc's medicinal syringes, Finka's adrenaline shot, Ela’s stun mines, Pulse's heartbeat monitor, Gridlock's spike traps, Rook's armour plates, and a number of other helpful support skills, gadgets, abilities, and special weapons.

When an Operator falls in battle, they go MIA, encased in a sickly yellow foam, meaning you have to rescue them from the clutches of an 'Arch Tree' to return them to the roster. Even managing to complete an Incursion may see your Operators limping home injured, forcing you to cycle through different characters for each mission while they recover. Sometimes, it's smarter to cut your losses and extract after completing one or two of the three objectives you're presented with for each Incursion, rather than risk losing another Operator. Fail a rescue attempt enough times, meanwhile, and your Operator will be restored to the roster, but you'll lose all of the XP you accrued with them. It's a neat risk/reward mechanic that ensures you'll think twice before pushing on through the airlock to an area's next sub-zone.

As a member of crack Rainbow team 'REACT', you'll visit quarantined zones in New York, San Francisco, Alaska, and an abandoned region situated in a small Southwestern desert town, carrying out 'Studies' that contribute to the completion percentage for each location. Factor in random ‘Parasite Mutations’ that can change things up and some attempt has been made at rendering things interesting, but there's presumably only so much trudging through unctuous black goo (known as 'Sprawl') and shooting pulsating red nests you may be able to stomach – it's not long before Extraction begins to feel enormously repetitive, even when playing with friends.

Welcome to the Diner!

Designed primarily for co-op play, Rainbow Six Extraction is actually a far more demanding proposition with a squad of up to three players – 'Moderate' difficulty is anything but, while 'Cautious' difficulty ramps things up significantly, rewarding the extra effort with 50% bonus XP, should you successfully extract, of course. There are two difficulty levels above Moderate and Cautious, which are almost entirely unmanageable – even at the lowest difficulty, you can see a good run unceremoniously go up in smoke within mere seconds, which can, at times, seem egregious. Additional replayability can be found in the Maelstrom Protocol mode (a ranked affair featuring weekly challenges), assuming you have the persistence to boost your overall rank to 16, at which point it's unlocked, and boost your Operators to level 10.

Discounting the additional modes and inherent fun factor that comes from playing with friends in co-op, Rainbow Six Extraction is unrelentingly generic, short on imagination and anything that feels unique or appealing. There is some enjoyment to be had here, stalking through each level, ruthlessly executing aliens with stealth takedowns, and efficiently completing missions. But a shortage of objectives, uninspired design, dull enemies, and unsatisfying gunplay conspire to make Rainbow Six Extraction feel more like a spin-off expansion for Rainbow Six Siege, rather than a full-fledged game in its own right. If it's immediate extra-terrestrial shootery you seek, this will fit the bill, although there are myriad superior alternatives out there.

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Extraction

While it has a few nice ideas, Rainbow Six Extraction is nonetheless a generic first-person shooter that feels more like an expansion, rather than a full-blooded game. I’m not entirely sure Tom Clancy would approve.

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Instantly forgettable menu music, guttural alien sounds, and random chatter from your Operators make for a fairly dull soundscape. Shrug.


Perfectly serviceable. A lot of black and yellow quarantine zones, with a few areas of interest, like a 'Punk Club' awash with neon, a casino (which only serves as a reminder of Rainbow Six Vegas), and a Wild West museum thingy. Fine.


Again, entirely functional. It works, and when played in co-op with friends, there’s certainly some enjoyment to be had. Gunplay doesn’t feel particularly impactful and enemies are only fun to shoot for so long.


The same handful of rotating objectives soon grow tiresome and gameplay can start to feel a mite one-note. While Extraction is fairly polished, there’s not quite enough here to keep you coming back.


As achievement lists go, this is a fairly rock-solid one, with smaller, simple tasks to complete, alongside a few with a longer tail. Decent enough.

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