It’s been two days since the Archaenans made their presence felt in New York City, covering familiar lines with a tarry spread and tearing people apart on sight. This is a Rainbow Six Game, an elite REACT task force was formed and immediately deployed to prepare their highly skilled staff for what they face in a “hot zone” with state-of-the-art VR simulations that look and feel like a tutorial level in a video game ” can expect . We may not understand these alien idiots yet, agreed a team of serious people in a room full of screens, but we’re not going down without a fight.
That was two days ago. 48 hours since Doc took his first steps into a hot zone and died more or less instantly to aliens is considered MIA. About 47.5 hours since Lion went in to get him and MIA went too. And a day and a half since three other operators succumbed to the same fate. XP gained: 0. Progress made: zero.
Get knocked out in the field Rainbow Six extraction Affairs. This was my least favorite part of the first two hours of Ubisoft’s 3-player PvE tactical shooter. When your health hits zero and no one has a revive kit, stay down and REACT’s anti-sprawl foam kicks in and coats you in yellow goo, any XP you’ve earned on this mission trapped in your high-tech doll with you. The only way you’ll ever play as this operator again is to return to the mission with someone else, find them, and pull them out of a tree before three fleshy flowers pull them back inside. Really. Rescuing them will give you back some of their character XP and overall story progression points. Die trying and you lose that operator too.
I’ve since recovered the seven operators I lost in the first two hours and now I think this system is my favorite thing about the game. Not only does it evoke the high-stakes missions of the earliest games in the series, where the likes of Ding Chavez and Santiago Arnavisca stayed dead throughout the campaign if they caught a bullet, but it did too shadow of waralso the brilliant Nemesis system by . As in Monolith’s game, dying here is the beginning of a very personal story, and rescuing this character to see your milestone level rise and unlock another mission location is worth the frustration of being put down in the first place.
play it like siege, although? More than most games. It spends a lot of time operating camera drones, leaning around corners, and shooting through walls, so its lineage in that sense is clear. But it feels surprisingly little like a spin-off of Ubisoft’s existing online shooter cash cow and differs in execution, even in a crowded co-op shooter realm.
Roguelike elements infuse semi-random elements into the stealth-focused missions, which task you with any combination of 13 different mission types. These mission types aren’t particularly exciting in and of themselves – kill an elite, blast some nests, press interact on some scanners – and already feel limited in scope. But the way they’re structured as a three-phase dungeon crawl with significantly more XP for each completed objective is smart multiplayer design.
Example: I’m stopping by Tenderloin, San Francisco. My three goals are to destroy some deviant nests, then rescue an operator that I carelessly left here last time, and then kill an elite. These targets are divided into three zones separated by one-way airlocks. All I really care about is saving Vigil, so I have to blow up the nests first just to get to phase two and get to the next zone. I move clumsily, taking damage from explosive bloaters and staggering around with 17 HP remaining. But I’ve come this far. There’s no point in turning back now.
I reach Vigil, find the fleshy flowers I need to shoot to free him from the alien tree’s grasp, shoot the sprawl off the ground to speed up my movement, and bring it onto my shoulders. As I sprint to the extraction zone, I alert two Archaean Spikers, which duly reduce my health to an 8 HP shard until I dispatch them and extract Vigil. I have achieved what I came here for. The extraction zone is right here. It would be absolute madness to move to the last zone and try to kill an Elite just for the extra XP. Obviously that’s exactly what I’m doing.
The gamble inherent in each round is what remains extraction compelling, even with a limited variation in mission types and a list of locations that can feel like interchangeable interior modules as often as impressively dark exterior scenes. And despite Archaeans’ visual design, it lacks something original to set it apart from any other shooter you’ve played since gloriole, the overarching story is impressively complete in its portrayal of the alien invasion.
This is partly due to the sheer amount of time and effort extraction committed to telling you about it. Not only through introductory cutscenes that establish the time-honored tone of Tom Clancy and where people of enormous emotional reticence tutor each other in bunkers, but also out in the world as you discover scenes that trigger a voice memo from your superior at HQ. You may learn that the water supply to the entire neighborhood was cut off after the Archaeans took over a downtown hotel, or that no bodies were found there despite the bloodstains of the guests. It’s amazing to have an online shooter that tells you about its lore mid-round. There is no place for that in such a tense PvP game siege, but it never feels intrusive here. Every time you see the magnifying glass icon preceding an audio storytelling, the game says, “Hey – I want to hear more about this why do you do all this?’ Usually you do.
Storytelling isn’t all retrospective, either. As you complete objectives at each mission location, REACT begins with just three maps in New York City and learns more about the Archaeans. The invasion moves to different locations, from San Fran to Alaska and beyond. Shady companies will inevitably get involved. It seems superfluous – on paper it is is superfluous – but I still enjoyed his quasi-Michael Chrichton conspiracy. To my surprise, at this point, I’m very interested in uncovering the mystery.
It shows more love and attention Rainbow Six extraction than anyone might have guessed prior to its release. lessons from siege‘s half decade (and counting) have obviously been internalized and applied. But whether Ubisoft’s new game can expect a community that’s just as passionate and inventive – and most importantly, as engaged – in the long run is impossible to say.
‘Cause to do this extraction needs more content. And I’m sure we’ll get more content – but reviews aren’t written based on assumptions. What we have right now, instead of more content, are higher difficulty levels that give out bigger and bigger XP bonuses and incentivize visits to familiar territory.
The most dedicated players will reach milestone level 30 and reach Maelstrom mode, which its developers call endgame content. The levels here aren’t custom made, instead challenging you to complete nine objectives in a single playthrough instead of three. This is quite difficult at the moment, as is leveling your Operators to a level where they can hope to be effective in Maelstrom rounds. But in a month of solid gaming? Two months? We’ll be parched for more.
What an impressive start this is. Who would have thought there really was more material to shooting humanoid xenomorphs in the head and destroying their nests? Solid production values were par for the course from a triple-A developer of this caliber, but its luxurious audio design really adds to the gunplay. The sound of cracking an Archie off the other side of a plank of wood is molecularly satisfying, and the subsequent Skinner Box of itemized, color-coded XP bonuses squirting out feels better than eating a DoorDash in bed. By keeping the difficulty high and fully focused on stealth, you’ll be guided to use each operator’s abilities, combine them carefully, and talk through objectives before pouncing on them.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to attracting an audience large enough to warrant more content is the opening hour or two extraction, where every mistake is severely punished and the small advances you make can be taken away in a clumsy fight. The VR tutorials may teach you the basic mechanics, but they don’t prepare you for the level of concentration required to actually complete a mission in one piece.
But if enough players emerge on the other side of this ordeal, here’s a game that has interesting directions to go. It’s powered by Ubisoft’s “Buddy Pass” system, which gives each game owner two free passes for their friends to play for free for two weeks, as long as the owner creates a match and invites them. Oh, and if you see Vigil out there stuck in a tree – bring him back for me, will you?
Looking for more of this? Check out our list of the best co-op games.
Written by Phil Iwaniuk on behalf of GLHF.