Live to Fight Another Day - Rainbow Six Extraction Hands-On and Developer Interview
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 06:10am 13/06/21 | Comments
We not only played Rainbow Six Extraction, we also had a chance to chat to the game's creative director, Patrik Méthé. Read on for our thoughts on the game, and what he had to say...
In my notes for my hands-on session with Rainbow Six Extraction, formerly known as Rainbow Six Quarantine, I initially jotted down this: “CoD Zombies, meets Siege, meets The Division, meets Assassin’s Creed” [sic]. Naive shoutouts, to be honest, but not a bad way to help lay a relatable foundation for you, dear reader, as to what you can *kind of* expect with Extraction. But like any game worth its preview salt, Extraction is a whole lot more, and built off of humble beginnings.
That might seem weird when you consider the overall success of Siege as a Seasonal product with its 50+ million users globally, but like all good ideas it starts with a single seed. And in the case of Extraction, that seed was a bonus added to Rainbow Six Siege’s “Operation Chimera” expansion, by way of a time-limited event called “Outbreak”.
Watch just under 10-minutes of captured hands-on PC gameplay
“The way the community reacted to the Outbreak event in Siege a few years ago was an eye-opener,” enthuses Extraction’s creative director, Patrik Méthé, when we asked about the tonal shift and over-the-top nature of the upcoming game. “We saw the excitement of players in fighting something “less human” and [so] in the context of a PVE experience, [Extraction] allows us to offer a much wider array of challenges to the player.”
"There just also happens to be a creeping alien virus of some sort sprawling a sticky goo that slows your movement, spawns enemies of various types and hierarchy, glowing sacks (nests) and ‘trees’ that want to eat you...”
We ask because there’s a whispered chorus of concern that permeates the build-up to Extraction’s release given the whole ‘alien’ nature of the game, which appears at odds with Siege’s more realistic approach to combat and gameplay. But this is something Patrik and the team at Ubisoft Montreal working on the game is aware of, and has dead in their sights.
“It was also important for us to keep a grounded approach -- so don’t expect superpowers for your Operators,” he adds. “These are [still] top tier Operators fighting a new, always-evolving threat that they don’t know much about”.
We managed to play a handful of rounds of the game which, if you played that Outbreak time limited event, you’ll have a basic understanding of as far as structure goes. It's a cooperative tactical shooter in maps with destructible components. You have objectives that range from breach-like to defend-like and combinations in between, as well as twists on various themes. There just also happens to be a creeping alien virus of some sort sprawling a sticky goo that slows your movement, spawns enemies of various types and hierarchy, glowing sacks (nests) and ‘trees’ that want to eat you.
No, seriously. It’s all very alien.
“There’s a lot to be discovered in terms of lore and mysteries surrounding this unknown threat,” Patrik explains when we ask just how deep this narrative and its foundation goes. “Being a co-op tactical shooter, we didn’t want to break the flow of the game by having too much exposition when playing deep behind enemy lines.
“As you play, you’ll gather information and hear from REACT leadership, which will feed the CODEX – this is where all the information you’ve gathered is stored. You can fill it up (CODEX) at your own pace to learn more about the alien threat, as well as about REACT, the operators and much more.”
"The differences here though, and throughout Extraction, really, is that the encroaching threat against your best-laid plans is AI, not human. Both narratively and in reality....”
In one mode we played -- Sabotage, we had to place and defend explosives. This gives the map a two-phase setup: reaching the Charges points on the map, then defending them. This isn’t at all unlike a scenario any seasoned Siege player wouldn’t have already been through (triple negative writing Achievement Unlocked), the differences here though, and throughout Extraction, really, is that the encroaching threat against your best-laid plans is AI, not human. Both narratively and in reality. It’s perhaps the biggest departure for the game and one not without its detractors and design hurdles.
“One of the most important challenges we set for ourselves was to find a way to satisfy the very wide spectrum of players that we know will be interested in our game,” Patrik says. “At one end of the spectrum, we have the casual co-op shooter for players that are looking, first and foremost, to have a fun experience with their friends. At the other end, we have the hardcore R6: Siege players that have put hundreds, if not thousands of hours in one of the most competitive FPSs on the market. We feel we’ve satisfied both crowds through different channels.”
"It’s a ship I missed and I regret that I missed it every day. But I also feel that it’s just too deep and far to swim to now, but this is something Ubisoft on the whole is hoping Extraction can help with...”
In channels Patrik is essentially referring to player-level: hardcore and non-hardcore. I personally am in that non-hardcore camp for Siege on the whole. It’s a ship I missed and I regret that I missed it every day. But I also feel that it’s just too deep and far to swim to now, but this is something Ubisoft on the whole is hoping Extraction can help with, but in doing that they still need to sate the core players. So the balancing act is very real.
“First, the onboarding tutorial is optional,” he ads in explaining how they’ve worked to right the *potentially* rocky ship. “You can jump into the game right away if you feel that you don’t need specific training, or you can spend as much time as you want in this “consequence free” environment to learn the basics.
“Second, the structure of the incursion allows players to extract at different moments. It’s up to you and your team to decide how far you want to push, knowing that bigger rewards await but also bigger risks. Finally, as you progress in the game, you’ll have the option to choose different threat levels that will put you against more challenging enemies.”
Of course, the design challenges mentioned earlier were naturally going to happen when you’re creating a more structured experience that isn’t wholly impacted by other humans on a competing side. And as Operators have been introduced over the years and maps crafted in reflection of those, to compliment them and promote unique playstyles, from movement to abilities and beyond, Extraction seemingly has nothing but an uphill battle against it, but based on what we played and in what Patrik relayed to us, the team took these challenges in stride and have clearly come out the other side not at all infected in the negative.
“We had the chance to work on the very solid foundations of Siege,” Patrik boasts. “It was not always easy since there are aspects of our game that are very different, but we are proud of what we achieved as a stand-alone experience.
"also letting us know that anything is possible with a new outing, adding that they “have some cool surprises planned for when the game goes live”...”
“Some Operators transitioned smoothly from PVP to a PVE experience. For others, we had to work a bit harder to make sure that their abilities brought true value in a PVE context. One key element that we wanted to make sure of, was that no matter how big the changes we had to do, that each operator kept the “essence” of his or her role.”
The initial Operator rollout is nine, but as you progress you’ll receive “reinforcements” as Patrik calls them, while also letting us know that anything is possible with a new outing, adding that they “have some cool surprises planned for when the game goes live”. And this response comes off the back of our question about Extraction-specific Operators… so a “watch this space” is cautioned for all.
As mentioned earlier, I’m personally not a hardcore Siege fan but I understand some of the frustration coming from the core community at the direction here, and in Siege on the whole, in its more recent iterations, but Patrik is keen to call for calm.
“We each have a different definition of what the spirit of Rainbow Six is. For us, it comes down to different elements,” he concludes. For Extraction – it is a tactical experience where preparation is as important as execution and where you won’t succeed if you go in with a gun-blazing mentality. Playing top tier Operators equipped with the latest technology to fight an overwhelming enemy and being coordinated with your team, are the pillars to success.”
And that sounds pretty Rainbow to us.
Rainbow Six Extraction is a cross-play title coming to PC and last and new-gen machines this September 16.