Innovating ways for people to experience preexisting genres of games is a tricky thing to do, because even with some niche sub-genres, gameplay can feel stale and repetitive if done improperly. The stealth and tactical subgenres of first-person shooters have become more popularized lately with games like Rainbow Six: Siege, Valorant, and Counterstrike: Global Offensive. What Rainbow Six: Extraction brings to the table is almost wholly unique, in which a tasteful blend of tactical shooting mechanics meets stealth gameplay in a stressful but rewarding experience that friends can enjoy together, or can be undertaken alone.
Going into this, I can say unabashedly I have little to no experience with Rainbow Six: Siege. Tactical shooters have never been my thing, and frankly the PVP scene in that game is massive and its own beast. With a basic familiarity of the characters and mechanics, however, it is possible to see the similarities and takeaways utilized in Rainbow Six: Extraction. The main gameplay centers around completing predetermined objectives in areas that range from “protect the point” to “stealth kill an enemy”. These missions are made for gathering “intel” on an area and on the enemies, the eldritch Archaeans. The Archaeans are monstrous beings that vary in form, primarily looking like tangled masses of tissue without a face. The main stress of dealing with Archaeans is that, once alerted, they scream to alert nearby enemies in the area. Alone they’re not much of an issue, but in a swarm with multiple varieties a-la Left 4 Dead, they’re incredibly hard to deal with. The main benefit of gameplay in Rainbow Six: Extraction is twofold; you can engage in missions as a team or solo, and you can choose to extract at any point. If a mission is too hard or you mess it up too badly, you can look to extract your operator and try again. If you do happen to lose, your operator is encased in a protective shell and you need to go retrieve them. An interesting gameplay loop that forces use of different operators, but it can get annoying if you only decide to play one. While the different ways to engage with missions can be exciting, the repetitive nature of the missions to complete while going through incredibly similar hurdles can get annoying after a time.
My experience with Rainbow Six: Extraction has been primarily enjoyable, and this is mostly due in part to the way I have essentially free reign to engage with the missions. The environments are nothing to write home about, some sprawling buildings encased with alien looking goop is relatively par for the course in a game like this. The real fun has been in the stressful situations the game demands the player to be in. Yes, I know “fun” and “stressful” don’t normally go together, but in a situation like this it leads to an incredible payoff. Sneaking through buildings and taking out nests after scanning ahead with a drone really hammers home the whole “stealth mission” vibe. After carefully plotting my entrance and plan of attack, executing it flawlessly feels incredible. The elements of a tactical shooter that went into the stealth gameplay really feel amplified, as you really need to be listening closely to where enemies are in order to adapt accordingly should you have missed someone on your opening scan. Things like shooting through thin walls and reinforcing or breaking other walls is still present here as well, and utilizing your environment in this way is crucial should you get detected and swarmed. Playing with people adds another level to this, as some Operators aren’t as catered to stealth as others. Even with silencers on guns and only tactical scanning equipment, it takes one person messing up to get the whole team swarmed. In these moments it’s both frustrating and fun, at least at the lower levels. I can imagine scaling up to harder enemies and more health-tanky versions of them would hamper that experience quite a bit, so learning how to deal with people messing up (and making sure you don’t mess up) early is essential.
Rainbow Six: Extraction has the makings of a really fun co-op stealth game for those who love to put themselves in stressful situations. This will definitely appeal to fans of Rainbow Six: Siege, and generally others who also enjoy tactical shooters. A lot of core mechanics from Rainbow Six: Siege are also present here, so there’s an air of familiarity going from one to the other. My main gripes with this game tend to be echoes of similar titles, which is the objective system and maps. You can only repeat the same objective so many times for experience before getting completely turned off to the idea in general, and doing things like scaling detection radius up and enemy health pools up only makes for a more tedious experience than a thought provoking one. While fun for small pockets of play, a grind might not be worthwhile.
Score: 8 out of 10
Reviewed on Windows PC (Ubisoft Connect)