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Rainbow Six Extraction Preview: Cooperation required

A potent plate of tension served up by team Rainbow.

A helicopter lands for just a moment atop a New York skyscraper. It’s clear the infection has taken hold here. Alien growths burst out from the concrete and drip goo from the ceilings. Three operators step out with a simple task: find out what happened, and why the Protean tumours have sprung up here.

Everywhere you walk the wet, slimy sound of the Protean biomass invades your ears. The growths have burst through across the whole penthouse floor. Quickly we locate the objective, several scan points around the Penthouse courtyard.

Activating the scan brings on a horde of Proteans, running at you like it’s a T-1000 and you’re John Connor. Our trio does its best to resist the oncoming storm of enemies but it’s no use. The courtyard we’re forced to fight in is small, and the Proteans are flooding in through unreinforced walls and wide-open doors. Just like that all three operators are down, and the mission is over.

Death and failure find you quickly in Rainbow Six Extraction, and Stevivor was lucky enough to get a second hands-on preview session (you can read our first here) to see if we could do a little better this time.

There’s a lot more game to see now, and chief amongst that is the progression system. You’ll be working to unlock a lot of operators and their perks, as well as React tech to help you succeed. Fail though and you’ll need to recover your MIA operator, and you won’t be able to use them until then.

With that in mind, we saddled up and tried again. I’d jumped in, and subsequently lost, the roaming Siege Defender Vigil in our first foray so we knew it was likely we’d have an operator recovery mission coming up. Sure enough the very first endeavour for our run into the Monolith Gardens map this time would be in pursuit of our fallen allies, followed by a Hunt and Specimen mission.

Extraction is kind enough to tell you exactly what’s in store for your mission before you launch in, giving you ample time to strategize and select appropriate operators. Learning from our hubris, our squad opted for the safer, more resilient choices of Doc, Rook and Tachanka and dived into Monolith Tavern.

Immediately our trio fanned out and started scouting for the MIA operators, looking for the telltale tree-like growth that holds them. The Tavern itself is a sprawling, multi-floored complex – a mixture of hotelesque bars and the back rooms used to service them. Stealth is your friend in Extraction, and I found myself creeping through the service corridors, taking out Proteans and their nests with a silenced pistol.

We followed the trilling sound of our fallen friend’s locator, and eventually one of the others found it – a room completely covered in Protean biomass, and in the centre an Archean Tree that was holding our comrade. We set up to pull them free, triggering a horde of Proteans to flood into defend the tree in the process. A, very literal, tug of war began between us and the tree. As you work to pull the MIA member free, so to does the tree work to pull them in. It’s a fine balance between pulling the operator out, shooting the glowing red orbs that fortify the tree and defending against the waves on oncoming Proteans.

Sadly it was too much for our little gang and yet again we were humbled by Extraction. We lost the tug of war, and though we could continue the run the price of failure was high. For me, Vigil lost an entire level of his progression – a potentially devastating blow for an operators usability.

A lost Operator advancement level can means losing access to perks such as ability upgrades or even alternate weapons. While our little gang soldiered on and eventually extracted, losing valuable levels off of a favourite operator is a steep price to pay for failure.

And therein lays my biggest takeaway from Rainbow Six Extraction: failure is meaningful. Impactful. Failing a level sucks. It takes away your favourite operator for at least one mission, and if you fail in your retrieval? Then the consequences are severe.

I wouldn’t go as far as to call Ubisoft brave for introducing genuine consequences to their shooter, but it is bold for a game in 2021. It makes each mission mean more. At any time the poor decision of you or a squad mate could mean the loss of your go-to operator, or even the loss of hours of progress.

This simple design choice bakes more tension into each moment of Extraction. Some players will hate it, others will love it. The good news is that everybody can try it — and for little cost — when it comes to Xbox Game Pass on launch day. What better excuse do you have to see if Rainbow Six Extraction is for you?

Rainbow Six Extraction

20 January 2022
PC PS4 PS5 Xbox One Xbox Series S & X

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About the author

Hamish Lindsay

Avid reader and general geek, justifying the time I spend playing games by writing about them. I try not to discriminate by genre, but I remember story more than gameplay. I’ve been playing League for longer than Akali and I’m still Silver. Fallout 3 and MGS3 may be the pinnacle of gaming.