I crouched and crept silently as I made my way through a goop-infested lair. To my left, I heard the gurgling sounds of a creature. Then, all of a sudden, another hostile spotted me. It screamed and called more enemies to my position. I couldn’t help it. I screamed as well. That has been my experience with Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction.
I can easily say that Rainbow Six Extraction has been one of the most thrilling games I’ve played, at least initially. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse once I was able to try out all that the game had to offer after its official launch.
The arrival of the Archaeans
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction takes the tactical, squad-based gameplay of Rainbow Six Siege and turns it into an online, multiplayer PvE affair. It starts with the emergence of the Archaeans, evolved forms of the alien parasites first seen in Siege‘s time-limited events. Now, the stakes are higher and the opponents are deadlier.
The most common forms of parasitic growth are Nests. They might seem harmless, given that you could shoot them and they won’t do a thing. But, once alerted by other alien beings, they’d start birthing more creatures. It could lead to a situation where you’re swarmed by dozens of foes, such as Grunts with claws that will cut your health down by a chunk, Spikers that can shoot energy projectiles, and Breachers that will explode once they get near you. Moreover, you’ll need to contend with the sprawling sludge, the black goo that continues to cover an area. This landscape feature will slow you down while speeding up your enemies.
Vicious lifeforms can be seen as you continue to progress, with tougher variants appearing much later in the level or in higher difficulty modes. For instance, Lurkers will cloak their buddies, and Smashers, as the name implies, will burst through walls and obstacles as they chase after you. There’s also the Tormentor, which can blend into the sprawl before emerging and blasting you. And, of course, there’s the Protean, which is akin to a mutated Operator that acts as a boss if that particular objective is in play (we’ll talk about mission objectives later).
All in all, I can say that I still enjoyed the variety and challenges presented by these enemies. Likewise, their audio cues and abilities lead to a tense atmosphere, one that will provide countless thrills and opportunities to shout expletives. I’m reminded of frantic moments when I played Left 4 Dead and its sequel many years ago.
Perhaps my only gripe here is that the AI can be slightly inconsistent at times. There were situations when a single Archaean called to other mobs, starting a chain reaction where everyone was alerted. Conversely, there were cases when mobs walked around without spotting me even though I was firing a shotgun at their cohorts just a few meters away.
The Operators and mission objectives in Rainbow Six Extraction
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Extraction has four regions (New York, San Francisco, Alaska, and Truth or Consequences). Each region has three distinct maps with three subzones. In a way, the levels feel interconnected. Whether or not you complete an objective, you can decide to extract back to your base or continue onward to the next area. If you think you can handle the risks, you can keep pushing onward for better rewards.
As mentioned earlier, the game takes existing Operators from Siege and drops them into a terrifying situation. Given that each Operator has their own abilities and weapon loadouts, you’ll want to ensure that you’re choosing the right person for the job.
For example, healers such as Doc and Finka are useful in any situation, as they can keep your allies in tip-top shape. Meanwhile, those who focus on zone control like Jager and Tachanka are great when missions require you to defend a spot. Jager can place an automated turret that shoots hostiles that move in, while Tachanka has a machine gun turret that can also be used by teammates.
In other situations, scouting might be more viable. If the mission objective requires you to destroy Nests, then you might want to choose Pulse as his ability lets him detect those features. Vigil is also great thanks to his cloaking ability. Operators also level up if you complete objectives and kill more enemies, unlocking upgrades to their skills as well as additional weapons that can be equipped.
A few qualms with progression
Sadly, I did have a few qualms while playing Rainbow Six Extraction. Chief among these is the fact that Operators who “die” in a mission will become MIA. You’ll then need to go on a rescue mission to bring them back. This is actually a good mechanic, as it pushes the idea that these missions are indeed risky. However, it can sometimes feel a bit restrictive, considering that Operators that drop below an HP threshold would be “injured,” and thus not selectable in future runs.
Your only recourse is to choose a character that you may not be familiar with, clear multiple objectives, and gain a lot of XP just to improve the HP recovery of those in your roster. There was actually a moment when I lost Doc and Vigil, while a few others had only 60 to 70 HP remaining. Since I wanted to avoid potential mishaps when I’m using Operators that I preferred, I had no choice but to pick characters that I barely leveled up.
Moreover, some objectives don’t feel as though they were properly scaled-down if you’re going at it alone. Nest Tracking, Triangulation, Hunt, Specimen, and Biopsy were all fairly easy to complete. Meanwhile, Decontamination, Gateway, and Sabotage might be more suitable if you’re with a squad or if you’ve picked a specific Operator.
Still, I do think that my qualms were borne primarily due to solo matches (the game doesn’t have bots). I had a hard time finding other reviewers to buddy up with due to the timezone difference and was only able to try multiplayer incursions a couple of times. There’s also the Maelstrom Protocol endgame mode. I’ve already unlocked it and I’m just waiting for more players to give it a go. We’ll have a finalized Rainbow Six Extraction review score soon, so stay tuned.
How it started versus how it’s going
I continued to rack up additional multiplayer matches under my belt for the past couple of days since Rainbow Six Extraction‘s global launch. Likewise, I was able to try a bit of Maelstrom Protocol with random squads, the endgame mode where a team attempts to clear nine missions in quick succession. The challenge ramps up since a lot of Mutations/modifiers also exist, supplies are limited, and you don’t have a lot of time in each run.
The main drawback at this stage is that the grind becomes atrocious. Maelstrom Protocol somewhat alleviates that since it gives a ton of XP. Unfortunately, it limits the pool of selectable characters to just a handful (i.e., Jager, Ela, Rook, Sledge, Lion, and Gridlock). Similar to Siege, I won’t be able to pick a character that someone else has chosen. As such, my dilemma was whether I’d go with Operators that are already maxed out (i.e., Jager and Sledge), or others that I’ve barely used. On one hand, I could use powerful upgrades that would benefit the team, but I’d also earn nothing. On the other, I’d be able to level up some alts, even though I have no plans of using them all the time.
This is further compounded by the fact that you’re mostly just increasing your Milestone progression (i.e., profile rewards). You can think of another squad-based co-op game with classes such as Vermintide, and you’ll notice how that, at the very least, allowed you to earn loot. In the case of Rainbow Six Extraction, you’d simply unlock the remaining gadgets, as well as cosmetics. These are poor incentives for progression, and hardly enough to keep you around for the long haul.