PvE games has always captivated a good chunk of gamers. Not only you feel the rush of fighting baddies alongside your friends, there’s actual plot and memorable characters with backstories involved. But what’s common across many PvE games is that almost all of them are horde based. Swarms of zombies and mutants overrunning you in games like Left 4 Dead 2, World War Z and Killing Floor while you run ‘n’ gun your way through the frantic horde. But now, there’s a new fish in town, courtesy of good ole’ Ubisoft. A comparatively slow-paced and tactical PvE that will remind you of GTFO. Rainbow Six: Siege veterans, grab your PvP squamates as it’s your time to battle some extraterrestrial baddies… again!
Through the maw into the belly of the beast
Rainbow Six: Extraction (originally known as R6:Quarantine) has its roots in the timed 2018 Outbreak event of R6:Siege, where operators had to combat an alien threat in the Mexican city of Truth or Consequence. Apparently, the Rainbows were unable to contain it (containment wasn’t the event’s primary objective anyways), because narrative wise, R6:Extraction acts as a direct sequel to Outbreak. The parasite that started out from ground zero, the City of Truth or Consequence, has now set up shop all across the planet with the sole objective of consuming all lifeforms in its ever-growing black sprawl. And this is where Rainbow Six goes full-on XCOM. Just like in XCOM, an extraterrestrial parasite called Archaean, has hit almost all major cities turning them into hotbeds of alien activity. In order to combat the alien invasion, come forth the elite operators of Rainbow, forming the Rainbow Exogenous Analysis & Containment Team (REACT) with the mandate of capturing/recovering enough data for the R&D team to develop countermeasures.
Headed by Ash, Thermite and Mira, REACT’s current roster includes 18 other operators from R6:Siege (and possibly more in future DLC’s and updates). This goes without saying that the gameplay loop is drastically different from both Siege and Outbreak. Instead of 5v5 battles, a squad of 3 (maximum) is deployed into REACT incursion sites across the globe. Mission objectives like extracting REACT scientists, capturing/eliminating Archaean elites, are all generated procedurally and spread across 13 locations in 4 cities (for now). That said, they can be endlessly replayed even after completing all the “studies” pertaining to each city (studies give massive bonuses to yours and your operator’s progression as well). Good thing to know, even if you don’t have a squad to play, you can go in lone wolf and the game will adjust it’s difficulty and mission parameters suitably. But a word of warning, there’s a reason this game is called “Extraction” and you’ll know that if you’ve got a full squad to play with.
Play slow, play safe
Operative and arsenal selection is crucial depending on your mission objectives. Let’s say the mission involves guarding a set of charges while waves of enemies try to overrun you. In that case strong arms like Fuze and Tachanka might come handy. Although, even they have a fixed set of arsenal to choose from. If you want more mobility with the same hammering firepower, then select someone with a shotgun. This could be an important factor when you enter a gateway singularity at higher difficulties and you’ve to battle an Archaean Protean who can mimic other operators, can send shockwaves and Archaean spikes and/or leaves behind a poisonous trail in its wake. For objectives like extracting assets or tracking Archaean nests (which are basically spawn points for the enemies), you need to use stealth which is where operators like Pulse, Doc and Lion might level the playing field. All the operators have their own unique gadget that they can use— Doc can heal self and others, Fuze can deploy remote charges, Lion can detect moving enemies though walls while Alibi can deploy hologram dummies to lure enemies. Resources like ammo, gadgets or Medkits are scarce and therefore you and your mates need to effectively utilize the ping system. At higher difficulties, perhaps the most important on-site resources would be Medkits and REACT techs as you’re bound to loose a lot of health considering the type of enemies you’ll encounter. This is where team decision-making comes in. You see, each location is divided into 3 regions divided by airlocks and once you proceed through an airlock, there’s no turning back until you reach the other extraction zone. It’s up to you and your squad whether you want to continue to endure or can’t take it anymore and get the hell out of Dodge. Oh, and if anyone is left behind an airlock, they are MIA.
R6: Extraction is slow-paced, intense and tactical because teamwork is the key. You’re responsible for reviving your knocked downed teammates, unless they revive themselves (if they’ve equipped the Revival Kit). If a teammate gets knocked down more than once, they are KO’ed and a layer of yellow REACT foam encases them. Your mission priorities suddenly change as then you’ve to carry your downed mate to the extraction zone through an overwhelming onslaught using only your sidearm. Go in solo and no one’s there to save you. Failure to extract downed operators would result them in getting listed as MIA, until you reenter the zone to extract them. Already the Archaean black sprawl covers everything around you slowing your movements while unaffecting the enemies so better not to stir up the hornet’s nest.
Speaking of nests, better to approach them slowly and take them down or shoot from afar using silenced weapons, else they will start spitting out enemies like typical Grunts and exploding Bloaters (which are taken directly from the Outbreak event). But this is just on “Moderate” difficulty. At “Cautious” or “Severe” difficulty more parasitic mutations accompany and enemy type changes. Lurkers can camouflage itself and other units, crawling sowers can plant blinding spores that stick to the body when in proximity. After a set time they explode all at once engulfing the area in a toxic cloud unless you let your teammates shoot them off your body first. Then there are the elites like the hulking Smashers, the shapeshifting Tormentors and the ultimate Apex. It is advised to eliminate enemies before alerting them as once detected they will let out a bone-chilling howl and its not long before a swarm of aliens zero in on your location. The enemy roster is already nasty enough so better to take it slow. Shoot or melee the sprawl to clear them out, take down nests and spores quietly or deploy smoke to take down enemies (which always gives more XP).
These aliens giving me PTSD
R6: Extraction ain’t without its flaws though. First, the extraction loop, though well-thought out, is debatable. The game indirectly forces you to grind the same set of levels by making the downed operators MIA so that they are locked for future missions unless extracted. If say, all the suitable operators for a set of objectives are down, then you’re bound to extract them, unless you want to use other operators that aren’t best suited for the objective or are of lower levels. Furthermore, your operators’ health reduces after every mission thus making their usage in subsequent missions dangerous unless you let them recuperate for two or three rounds. Besides, the progression system is measured via “Milestones” and you’ve to grind to hit a certain milestone to unlock additional locations, operators and tools. If you want to complete the studies, then that’s a separate grind. All these mean every Quick Play with your friends might potentially turn into a long gaming session where you’re stuck in a loop of extracting your mates and then loosing them again in the next mission (or getting MIA yourself). Hats off to those who thought of this mechanism to increase the gameplay hours.
The visuals are quite blurry and you can in fact see the pixels of distant objects even at High-Ultra settings. Well, R6:Extraction uses the same Anvil Engine as in R6:Siege so that comes as no surprise. Although the cinematic videos are up to standards, complete with Ubisoft’s Aspect Ratio. The game does try to covey the in-game world’s information via a Codex which is like the Animus Database from Assassin’s Creed series, however unlike the Animus database, stuffs in the Codex are so tediously written using an abundance technical jargons to make it “realistic” that I presume even a lore junkie like me won’t bother to sift through it.
To be honest, I can’t really wait to jump in with my squad into the incursion zones because of the intense survival atmosphere that Rainbow 6: Extraction evokes. In my playthrough, there were scenarios where one of us deployed smoke and the other took down the targets, one of us manned a turret while the other two tried to free the MIA operative. The enemy and weapon types are varied enough, each with their own pros and cons and that encourages familiarity with every single gun, something which R6:Siege veterans might prefer. The game is coming to Xbox Game Pass on Day 1 and as per Ubisoft, more DLCs and Expansions will come. Possibly more locations and other operators from R6:Siege‘s roster. The player base is bound to increase in the coming weeks and R6:Extraction might as well be the first sleeper hit of 2022.