Star Rating:

Rainbow Six Extraction

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series XS, PS4, PS5

Release Date: Thursday 20th January 2022

Play Modes: Online Multiplayer, Online Co-Operative Play

Shooting aliens is a genre practically as old as gaming itself.

From 'Space Invaders' in the 70's all the way up to the modern-day, aliens are a universal foe that gamers of all stripes can form a united front and defeat.

How does 'Rainbow Six Extraction' add a new twist to the old formula?

Simple - it makes the player feel a sense of ownership over their favourite character and will do anything to keep the favourite safe.

The "hero shooter" has been a controversial addition to the world of gaming, but with this game, Ubisoft may have cracked the code: add an RPG-style of character progression.

Some have argued that 'Extraction' is not a 'Rainbow Six' game, but the simple fact is they are making this comment without playing the game.

In the 'Rainbow Six Vegas' era going rogue and attempting to 'John Wick' your way through levels was a surefire way to get yourself and your squad killed, and 'Extraction' brings back the squad-based gameplay that makes the formula as satisfying as ever.

A major problem with 'Battlefield 2042' was the fact it rewarded solo play and playing in a squad was essentially pointless.

The huge, sprawling maps were populated by over 100 players, but you rarely felt like you were part of a battle, more like a mere fly on the wall than actually affecting the action around you.

With 'Extraction' you have no choice but to stick together as a three-person squad, which makes the game that much tighter and tense.

If you don't have a headset at present and want to play this game, we'd heartily recommend investing in one.

If you don't communicate in this game, you're as good as dead.

This is the game that Discord was designed for, as being able to communicate with your teammates was the key to survival and success.

There were more than a few moments in 'Extraction' where the spirit of 'Rainbow Six Vegas' was invoked, to great effect.

Slowly creeping through the map with operatives two abreast and having your two teammates stand at either side of a door you're about to open is the 'Rainbow Six' experience we know and love.

Unlike 'Call Of Duty' or 'Battlefield' you are not a one-person army and can cut down 20 enemies in a single life.

The risk of being downed is ever-present in the game, and it's incredibly easy for players to burn through their ammunition.

In fact, there were quite a few excursions early on where the entire squad got wiped because we ran out of ammunition before heading into a fight with a higher-level enemy.

Knowing where the health and ammo pick-ups are key, and you can't accuse the game of ever being boring.

The difficulty level during the December hands-on often approached 'Cuphead' or 'Dark Souls' levels, but the difficulty has been tweaked by a fair amount for the finished product.

Co-operation is the name of the game

'Rainbow Six Extraction' forces you to play the game on its terms, which is a sign of confidence and says in so many words "if you don't like it, there's the door."

Showboating will not be tolerated, nor will going solo at the expense of the squad.

The tension and suspense of electing a squadmate to open a door and not knowing what is on the other side still resonates as much the 100th time as it does the first which is a testament to the atmosphere created by the game.

There are only 4 levels available at launch, but the game mixes up the objectives and map order enough to keep players occupied after launch.

Ubisoft have also shared details about the post-launch roadmap, which is an indicator that they plan to support the game after launch.

Whether 'Extraction' becomes a 'Siege' level hit remains to be seen.

The variety of different enemies also means you often have to switch up your approach on the fly - taking out a Breacher before he explodes and causes explosive damage could leave you blindsided by a Grunt's melee attack.

Terrorists are swapped out for Archaeans, a race of aliens that have set up shop on earth.

These aliens are more the "creeping parasite" than the aliens from 'Independence Day' that want to blow everything up, and this is reflected in the map design.

There is some truly striking visual design, and the festering pores and pulsating nests add a creepy Del Toro/Cronenbergian touch to the game.

In the games best moments, the scares and thrills recall the long nights spent playing 'Left4Dead' with friends, and the organic, unscripted gameplay here recalls the very best of Valve's franchise.

Having a Smasher chase after you while trying to get lure it to the extraction point is incredibly tense but rewarding.

To dismiss the game as something that should have been a timed event for 'Siege' is not giving the game a fair shake, and the relatively simple concept belies a surprising amount of depth within the game.

As has become de jure for first-person shooters, the traditional single-player campaign has been eschewed in favour of strictly multiplayer content, but it is possible to play on the maps by yourself which allows you to get to grips with the game.

There is some attempt at fleshing out the world through menu text and the RPG-style progression of learning more about the enemies does provide some incentive to keep going, but a traditional single-player storyline would have worked well with the premise.

The one area where 'Extraction' excels over its peers is the pseudo-RPG mechanics.

Before each foray into the field, the three players in the lobby must choose a different operative, and mixing and matching is crucial to success.

Having one player act as the scout, one as the medic and one as the wrecking ball adds an 'Xcom' style flavour to the existing 'Siege' pizza and it works surprisingly great.

Levelling up operatives, letting them heal between missions and unlocking new technology and weapons for operatives gives players an incentive to keep going, but where the comes into its own in the heat of the moment.

There is a high element of risk/reward; do you carry on in the mission to get more XP and risk wounding your operative, or do you play it safe and go back to base?

On more than one occasion, there were heated arguments between the players over what to do next, and because there are only 3 players in the squad, more often than not your vote decides the next course of action.

Having to think on your feet and dynamic situations like this assures you will never play the same match twice, which is a testament to good game design.

Add in a difficulty scale that will repurpose you for wall paint if you approach it without the right tools and skillset, and you have a game designed to keep you on your toes.

Facing off against the Archaeans makes for some jump-out-of-your-seat moments

The difficulty curve is also rather steep, but it is a testament to how quickly makes you subscribe to its way of thinking that you want to power through.

It is difficult to review a game with such a heavy multiplayer focus as the thoughts of a critic during the review period does not always align with the general consensus, but having played through the game in both demo form and the finished product, this will not be a repeat of the 'Battlefield 2042' debacle.

'Battlefield 2042' needed at least 6 more months of development time, but 'Extraction' has come out just right.

The standards in the triple AAA industry have fallen to such a point that a publisher on the scale of Ubisoft being transparent is considered a shock, but 'Extraction' is no mere cash-in on the 'Siege' craze.

The Ubisoft of the past would have released 'Extraction' in an unfinished state, laden with bugs and glitches and the game would generally have the air of it being slapped together over a bank holiday weekend.

'Extraction' is a full-blown game, and the extra time spent to delay the game as a result of the pandemic has done the game wonders.

If Ubisoft truly were the company of the past, 'Extraction' would have been released years ago and be confined to the dustbins of history like their catastrophic 'Ghost Recon' reboot series.

'Extraction' represents a new era for Ubisoft; willing to listen, open to criticism and keen to please.

Now, the wait for 'Rainbow Six Vegas 3' begins....