Rainbow Six Extraction is a fine game. For many, it’s an inoffensive co-op shooter that doesn’t really distinguish itself from other similar games and ultimately lives under the shadow of Rainbow Six Siege. I also largely felt this way about this game even with my more positive sentiments around the level design. But while I was prepared to review this title and give it a 3.5/5, I found myself addicted to this game. Sometimes, my views on a game don’t exactly align with my sentiments, and it’s with Rainbow Six Extraction where I find myself at a crossroad.
This isn’t the first game I’ve felt this way about, and it probably won’t be the last. World War Z is another notable title that comes to mind, as I gave that game a 3.5/5 yet that is a game I return to from time-to-time as my go-to Left 4 Dead-like. I even came up with a story idea titled “In Defense of the 7/10 Game” which would explore similar ideas. In my mind, a 3.5/5 score doesn’t sound like a great score, but I don’t think the sentiments I have around that score entirely reflect the experiences I’ve had with some 3.5/5 games even though I think the score is accurate. This idea can also exist at other review scores as well as viewing a game more positively or negatively than the score allotted, but I find 3.5/5 to be the biggest culprit.
While this could simply mean I need a larger point-scale for my reviews or I just need to rewire my brain around that score, I think this idea transcends any review scale. The idea of liking a game despite acknowledging its faults isn’t some Earth-shattering idea, but taking that to the next level by having this situation come up in a review with a score is something that feels a bit more unique. World War Z and Rainbow Six Extraction are fine games, but I also think there’s more to it than that.
Now, the first logical conclusion to come to is seeing the similarities between these games and drawing a connection. It’s not hard to find the connections between WWZ and Extraction as both share a lot of Left 4 Dead DNA. Enemy design (to a degree), co-op play, randomized enemies, and so on. But I don’t think connecting these games together in this manner will be of use as there are too many factors that come into play. There are other games that fit into this category of not matching the score (both in an “underrated” and “overrated” manner) that don’t have these connections. Other factors include nostalgia and specific personal reasons for enjoying these games (which I will get into). Trying to connect these games based on their gameplay similarities won’t work here, so with that said I want to move on to Rainbow Six Extraction in particular.
I thought being able to scan enemies through walls was neat at first. As I put more time into the game, however, its usefulness increased dramatically.
For my first 15-20 hours, I felt alright about the title. I guess you could say my sentiments aligned with my 3.5/5 score. I went into this game with limited Siege experience and a moderate amount of anticipation for some of its more unique mechanics compared to other Left 4 Dead-likes. The shooting feels great, though that isn’t anything new or unique. While its level design renders different “levels” worthless, I think the way the game is structured allows for way more replayability, options on what I want and do not want to do, and a good length of play. The goo stuff on the ground is a neat mechanic that responds to the style of play, and I think having a wide swath of options on how to handle enemies using stealth or action, gadgets, and character abilities is great.
While I found parts of this game enjoyable, I also found things I initially didn’t like as well. While I dig the concept of characters being able to lose experience points as well as the ability to leave or skip parts of the level, I think this game makes it way too easy to play it safe and back down from a challenge, rendering their “stakes” useless. Their challenges to complete for 100% completion of each area are menial and could be a lot better. The MIA objective is super easy despite it being built up as some high-stakes objective. And at this point in time, I thought their Siege tactics were worthless because of how easy I found the game to be. There are a lot of points both positive and negative I didn’t touch upon, but I just wanted to briefly summarize my thoughts on the first half of my time with the game.
Up-to this point, I was planning on the review and felt pretty confident about my score and whatnot. But at around this point, I changed my perspective on the title. I don’t know what got me to change though I am sure the change was of my own accord; but I started to treat this game differently, and my time with the game got a whole lot better. I was playing this game initially with the co-op shooter mindset. I kept stealth light and minimal, didn’t use gadgets or tactics that much, and mainly just focused on shooting aliens and completing objectives. After this, however, I started to treat the game like a hardcore tactical stealth game. I only played stealthily, I heavily used gadgets and character abilities to my advantage, and I focused on clearing rooms tactically before even thinking about the objective.
This shift in play made a lot of changes to how I thought about this game. For starters, I found this to be the closest thing I think I’ll find to a randomized Far Cry outpost or randomized Splinter Cell experience in the “modern” (last five years) era, which made me appreciate the game’s level design even more. I started to prefer playing this game solo as I had better control over the experience and the stealth felt more consequential and intense. The objective became more trivial to me because by the time I got to them, the area would be clear of enemies, but I also found clearing rooms to be way more fun so this loss didn’t matter all that much to me. The stealth mechanics like its noise indicator HUD and alerted enemy highlights became more significant to me. I appreciated the ability to skip objectives more as there are a few action-only objectives I didn’t want to partake in anymore. There are other parts of this game that did and didn’t change for me, but it was at this moment that I became hooked on Extraction.
For this game, I found a clear dividing line on when my sentiments began to lose alignment with my score, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes that transition isn’t as clear, sometimes this transition doesn’t matter, and sometimes it happens after I put out a review. This topic leads to another discussion about review score regrets and when a game should be deemed “complete” for review, but that conversation is for another day. It’s this dividing line that turned my writing on this game from a review to a feature, but I think conversation goes a lot deeper than just this dividing line.
At first, I thought having a recon drone that could scan enemies was useless. Boy was I wrong.
Normally for feature blogs such as this one, I usually like to have an answer and to try and cover as many possible scenarios and counterpoints as I can think of. But when thinking about this topic, I mainly came up with questions that either don’t really have an answer or only have answers specific to the individual. I don’t think the answer to the question of why I don’t want to review this game is due to my sentiments not aligning with my score, because that only brings up more questions. So, here are some of the things I thought up as I wrote this blog.
Does something I personally like go into a review even though it’s an unpopular opinion? The logical answer may be yes as it was part of the experience, but if the purpose of a review is to inform the reader of a product, then what good would a review be if it’s about something that not many people will likely enjoy? Sure, you could then argue that there are others who will also enjoy this unpopular opinion and this review will be for them, but I think that leads to the question of how useful a review can be if it can only be applicable to a few versus having a wide appeal to many.
This idea leads to the next question: what is the purpose of a review? Is it to inform and judge a product, or is it to speak of the experience I had with the game? The answer should be both, but that leads to another set of questions. How much of the review should be based on the objective points of the game (what everyone will experience) versus the personal or subjective points of the game (what I personally got out of those objective points of the game)? How much sway should the objective and subjective parts of the review have, especially considering something personal and/or unpopular like nostalgia or preferring solo in a co-op game? I think it’s this question where I see the split for my review and sentiments around Rainbow Six Extraction as I objectively see the game as a serviceable shooter but personally see the game as something for me. While this may seem like the answer, however, I think it leads to more questions.
Should I give a game like Extraction a higher score based on my personal experience even though I had to create a specific set of rules around playing it? I personally think the game’s a blast, but I only found the game to be a blast when I played in a specific way. The question boils down to if my specific way of play should have any say in the score or if I should consider all possible paths of play or even just the most taken path of play, which I think further boils down to objective versus subjective and how much sway each part should have. The answer should be to consider all forms of play, but I think that feeds into the next question.
Extraction also includes a few bonus modes, but they require co-op. As someone who enjoys the game solo, these modes don’t really do anything for me. These are meant to be endgame for players, but the entire experience for me is wrapped up in the main mode (unless they put out solo modes). This too could’ve been a point of contention for my review of this game.
How do I review a game I had two different experiences with? Now, if the game dictated those two different experiences, then this wouldn’t be a problem. But I dictated the change while the game remained the same, so I wonder how much of the former half versus the latter half should be used for my review. The answer could be both, but having this specific split means that the review is only going to be confused on which experience led to the score given, which leads back to some of the earlier questions I asked about the purpose of the review and what parts of the review should factor into the score. My opinion on certain aspects of the game also changed and can flip flop depending on how I approached the game, so trying to balance a review score on mechanics I have differing but equally valid opinions on could get messy. There are countless other questions around reviews and review scores such as how to review an ongoing game like World of Warcraft, but I mainly want to focus on the questions that apply to this particular scenario.
Now I personally don’t need to worry as much about some of these questions because I’m a one-man-band and it’s my opinion only that is the view of Black Red Gaming. For outlets like Gamespot or IGN, however, these questions could be quite daunting considering the score a reviewer gives is often seen as indicative of the entire outlet even though that shouldn’t be the case.
I’m guessing some of these questions are part of the reason why some outlets now do scoreless reviews. I thought about doing scoreless reviews (which I guess I do with my mini reviews), but I personally believe in having a score for those who just want a quick answer on how good a game is. Yes, it brings up even more questions, but these questions don’t usually fall upon the reader. I also think some of these questions remain with scoreless reviews such as including unpopular opinions, playing in a specific way, subjective versus objective, and so forth.
The ultimate answer to all of this could just be to review it how I want to review it, but these are some of the questions that can come to mind with reviewing games. If these questions start to rattle in my brain as I play a game, then I usually just scrap the review and do something else with the game instead (which is exactly what you are reading here). I may not have a clear answer as to why my sentiments sometimes don’t align with a review score despite believing in said review score, but I think that’s a case-by-case scenario, and I’m at least glad I have control over what I write as a solo writer for when these moments happen. I guess this blog surmounted to nothing but questions, but I hope it’s at least a conversation starter and something to think about.