It all started with a limited-time event. It was supposed to be a fun PvE event for Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege that would be around for a few weeks before everyone went back to defusing bombs and rescuing hostages. Nobody expected the Outbreak event to eventually give birth to an entirely new game in itself, but that's what's happening with the upcoming Tom Clancy's Rainbox Six Extraction. Ubisoft Montreal is taking its Operators and placing them in a full-blown PvE campaign and Shacknews recently had the opportunity to check it out.
On its face, it's easy to assume that Rainbow Six Extraction is similar to Left 4 Dead or Back 4 Blood. It's basically a squad of three friends (not four) taking on an invading race of hostile alien parasites. However, that's not entirely the case. In fact, Extraction is to those games what Rainbow Six Siege is to standard PvP multiplayer shooters. In short, Extraction is a much more tactical take on a Left 4 Dead-style shooter.
Extraction takes place in an alternate timeline where the world has been invaded by a mysterious, but deadly, parasitic race known as the Archaeans. Most of the planet has been ravaged by these beings and it's up to the Rainbow Six Siege Operators, as part of an organization called REACT (Rainbow Exogenous Analysis & Containment Team), to act as the resistance. This involves venturing into parasite-filled hot zones in places like New York City, San Francisco, and Alaska and completing various objectives.
Each hot zone is split into three separate areas, each with a specific objective. Those objectives are randomly generated before entry and will include eliminating parasite nests, taking cell samples, or taking down larger boss-sized enemies. The Archaeans are extremely dangerous, so teams are encouraged to exercise stealth tactics. This includes crouching and performing silent takedowns. Going in loud is the easiest way to flame out quickly, especially as resources can be limited and Archaeans tend to call for backup.
Here's where Extraction's unforgiving nature is worth noting. There is no healing in this game. Any health enhancements are treated as overheals, which gradually diminish over time. If an Operator is taken down during the mission, that Operator is declared "MIA" and can no longer be used. It is, however, possible to recover that Operator by returning to the same site with a different character and completing a rescue mission.
Because of the way Extraction's health mechanics work, it's possible that teams can complete one objective and determine that it's time to call it a day. Upon completing an objective, the team can fight over to the extraction platform and end the mission. There's also the option to move over to an airlock, located in a different spot on the map, which offers supplies and a route to the next area and proceed. There are greater rewards for completing multiple objectives, so it's worth plowing on ahead, assuming your team feels capable of withstanding the opposition that awaits.
Since Extraction utilizes the Siege Operators, that means their gadgets are available for use. Some of them may be adjusted for the PvE environment. For example, Lion's EE-One-D Drone has been tweaked to detect any moving parasites around him, while Vigil's ERC-8 Disruptor now makes him undetectable to surrounding enemies. Other Operators make the transition seamlessly, like Sledge with his Tactical Hammer that can destroy walls and Ela with her Grzmot Mines that stun foes caught in their blast. Part of the strategy in Extraction is utilizing team builds that complement each player, but it's essential to become skilled with as many Operators as possible. Not only can each Operator level up to improve their stats and tech, but one never knows when a mission will go sideways and the Operator either goes MIA or gets injured and has to sit out a few missions. The amount of health an Operator finishes a mission with matters, as they'll often have to recover over time.
While Extraction's challenge level will grow the farther players go into each mission, Ubisoft Montreal is not stopping there. Those who want a tough-as-nails experience can try their luck with the endgame Maelstrom Protocol, which features a whopping nine sub-zones, each with more powerful enemies that strike in far greater numbers. This is where tactics are likelier to fail and teams will find themselves in more of a shooting gallery, but only the most coordinated of squads will escape this mode alive.
Those who want a different spin on the Left 4 Dead formula will want to look at Rainbow Six Extraction, in the same way that the folks who wanted something different from their Call of Duty shooters have been able to turn to Rainbow Six Siege. It has the potential to offer a deep and engaging co-op experience and breathe some life into cooperative shooters, helped largely by the physics engine that made Siege such a standout hit. Those with Xbox Game Pass won't have to risk much to try it out, as it will be available on Xbox and PC on day one. The game will also release on PlayStation, Google Stadia, and Amazon Luna and cross-platform play will be available. The fight for the planet is set to begin on Thursday, January 20.