When Ubisoft announced Rainbow Six Extraction (RSE) at E3 in 2019, many assumed two things. One, that it would be an expansion to Rainbow Six Siege and two, that it would fall in the survival horror genre while still in the RSS universe. RSE is not an expansion and a completely standalone title priced at $39.99 or free via XBOX Game Pass and is definitely not your run of the mill alien shooter.
Oh no people, RSE is a CO-OP or single player PVE high risk and rewards tension filled game that will have your heart pounding, eyes twitching, and adrenaline pumping while also screaming WTF out of frustration for how unforgiving that it can be.
The story is fairly simple and straight to the point. Parasite like aliens called Archaeans are spreading across the United States and its up to the Rainbow Exogenous Analysis and Containment Team (REACT) to deploy operators in a wide variety of objective based missions. There is no traditional story mode, however the story does progress via cut-scenes that will appear as you level up and unlock new locations. The first of which is New York City.
Within NYC, there are 3 key locations: Monolith Gardens, Liberty Island, and Police Station. Your objectives will change each time you replay a location but note that the maps remain static and aren’t procedurally generated as some outlets have speculated. I recommend picking one location and keep replaying missions on that map in order to better familiarize yourself with the layout. This will become extremely useful when trying to complete hard mission objectives and needing to make a quick run to the extraction zone.
RSE maps are beautifully designed and use a large color palate across each location. The expected ultra dark corridors with just your weapons light attachment are virtually nonexistent which I found refreshing. RSE maps may be static but how you navigate to your objectives is not. Doors can be opened & closed; windows can be smashed so your operator can vault through and walls can be blown out if you have the proper weapon. So, when Ubisoft said there are a multitude of ways to approach an objective, they were absolutely correct, especially taking into account these maps consist of multiple levels and stairwells.
Prior to launching a mission, you will need to select your operator. At first you will have a hand full to choose from, all of which have their own unique talents and equipment loadout. For example, I preferred using the operator named Sledge whose primary weapon is a shotgun and a special attack weapon is a sledgehammer. Each operator is voiced acted and will provide dialogue throughout the mission. They also have full back stories which you can read via the “Codex” tab on the menu bar.
You can also change the outfit and head gear for each operator. Some you will earn as you progress and others can be purchased via microtransactions. RSE quickplay mode will automatically pair you with two other human players to complete your team of 3. If you wish to play solo this can be achieved by scrolling a few clicks below quick play and selecting a map. This is also how you can play a game with just you and one other friend without having to match make for a 3rd player. Note: solo means solo, and you will not have AI teammates like Back 4 Blood or World War Z.
Once your team is ready, a screen will appear showing you the 3 main objectives that you need to complete. I say main because there are little side missions called “studies”. You will see these marked on your map and most of the time they will lead you away from your main objectives but completing them will give you bonus XP. You will notice an alien skull above each objective starting with 1,2 and 3. These indicate the difficulty of the mission. The XP you can earn is displayed under the objective image and as you would expect the harder the objective the more XP can be earned.
My first objective was to capture an elite target. This was achieved by slowly navigating through the area to find our target. Once found, we had to use light engagement in order not to kill the target and run back to the extraction area in which to activate the trap. If all goes well, the target will be captured and you can either call for a full group extraction or continue to the next objective. This next objective introduced some rather aggressive parasites which I won’t spoil. Just know, that we all died.
Now this is where the game gets challenging. If you fail a mission and your operator does not extract, he or she is now MIA and cannot be used. You will need to select another operator and during your next play, another objective will appear to rescue the MIA operator. Now they could be just laying on the ground in a contain foam that protects them from the alien / parasite, or the operator could be trapped in a “Ark tree” which is this grotesque tree like structure with multiple tentacles attached to the walls of the room.
When you try to rescue the operator, the one pulling holds (X) while the rest of the group shoot various points of the tentacles to loosen its hold. You will see a meter moving left if the operator is getting sucked back in and right if the extraction attempt is working. It’s also worth mentioning that once you begin the rescue attempt, parasites will be alerted and swarm upon your location. So before attempting a rescue, make sure to lock all doors and use REACT barricades by holding (X) near windows and some wall holes. Also note that some creatures can break through a wall hulk style so never assume that you are safe if all visible points of entry are sealed.
As you complete objectives, the operator you use will obtain new weapons and ability boosts such as 3% additional damage when using a particular gadget. On the flip side, if you fail a mission your overall level will decrease. So, if you are level 2 and fail a mission, don’t be surprised if you drop down to a level 1. You need to keep moving up levels to also unlock more operators and new locations.
RSE forces you to use a new operator based off the amount of damage your current operator obtained during the last mission. For example, if you took some hits and extracted with half health, that operator will need time to recover and is unplayable for 2 or 3 missions. Therefore, you need to be in constant communication with your teammates either on mic or with the dialogue wheel which can be displayed by pressing UP on the D-pad.
Occasionally your operator will call out if he or she finds ammo or health but it’s the constant flow of communication that eventually helped my team complete objectives and progress through the game. OH! and if you quit during a mission or your internet connection is lost, then your operator is now MIA. That is the penalty for leaving / disconnecting from an active mission..
RSE is a challenging tactical shooter. Your team needs to take a slow methodical approach to every mission or you will pay the price either by losing your operator or receiving a significant XP penalty. For the first time while match making with some randoms, I hesitated deployment when I noticed the 2 players were level 1 and I was level 3 with one complete objective away from level 4. I can’t recall a game ever generating this form of stress filled decision making.
We completed the first objective but I went down during the 2nd objective and a teammate carried me back to the extraction area. They received XP for completing the first objective and I received ZERO XP and my operator was not playable for another 3 missions. As expected, there are some aliens which will dish out more damage than others but even taking damage and surviving still feels like a loss when you can no longer use your preferred operator.
RSE takes many elements from other genres and created a unique gaming experience that some will love and others will find discouraging. I enjoy the challenge because you definitely feel like a goal has been achieved when completing a tier 2 or 3 objective. RSE may not be for everyone but everyone, especially those who pride themselves at being master tacticians, should put their skills to the test and give this game a try.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Rainbow Six Extraction for the Xbox Series X provided by Ubisoft.