Rainbow Six Extraction is a lot different from Rainbow Six Siege (and all of the titles that came before it). Instead of terrorists, players are facing an alien invasion. And instead of playing against other people, the Archæans are AI.
While this may be jarring to some fans of the Rainbow series, it's actually a very exciting change that's driven by creativity and creepiness. Some of the people behind the new environment — and the Archæans themselves — are Associate Art Director Amelie Sorel and Level Design Director Marc-Andre Clermont.
Siege.GG had the opportunity to speak with both of the creatives behind Extraction in late 2021 after experiencing the gameplay for the first time.
What made the R6 team decide to switch from the usual terrorists and make players fight aliens instead?
Clermont: We wanted to create a PvE game. The alien concept, the parasite, came from some ideas in-house. We wanted something exotic and for the community. That’s roughly where it came from. We tried to go for something more exotic where we can bend the rules and create some stuff that wouldn’t have been possible before.
Sorel: From an art standpoint, we wanted to have fun creating creatures. That's something we never had a chance to work on before. We had a lot of fun, all of the artists, working on that.
There are a lot of new alien species in Extraction. Which alien type is your favorite?
Sorel: They all look amazing and terrifying in their own personal way. That’s the look we were going for. I like the Lurker a lot. I nickname it “The Elusive Artichoke.” He looks like a walking artichoke. He’s giant. I just think it’s really nice look-wise. They are always hiding in places and jumping out.
Clermont: When it comes to behavior, what I like is that each archetype is really strong but they have weaknesses. Each alien really shines in different situations. The tormented is powerful face to face — he is going to hit you hard really quickly. The smasher is the opposite. You need to hit him from afar. As soon as you hear him, you know to be careful and take him out as quickly as possible to avoid trouble.
What inspired the designs behind the lurker and the other Archæans species?
Sorel: From a high level standpoint, we wanted the players to feel unsettled by looking at them. There is a mysteriousness. It makes you want to stop playing and look at them and wonder what it is. Where is this shape inspired from? But you can’t stop in the game and do that.
A lot of the ideas came from the concept of an alien parasite that landed on earth and learns… It's a gooey liquid… But it learns from what it sees around it and the DNA of what it takes. So they have elements of things you may recognize but used in unexpected ways.
Unlike Siege, Extraction features large maps that have three different parts. Each section has a different challenge you need to get through to progress to the next. What were the challenges with creating these kinds of environments?
Clermont: Those maps are not only three parts but bigger than Siege. Each individual part is the size of a Siege map. The challenge is making sure players can go around. We wanted to create an experience where you don’t know where you will start and where the objective will be. We wanted to make sure that all the maps had opportunities for operators to shine, for parasites to shine, then the destruction itself. THere needs to be depth to make it replayable.
There are still destructible walls and doors in Extraction. How did this play a part in creating these maps?
Clermont: It’s a big part of how the maps are created. Everything from the different archetypes using it, objectives being set up — some more defensive. Extraction is similar to Siege in that way. Some operators will be shining in different situations.
If there is an incursion with three defensive objectives, you want to bring Tachanka or someone who has heavy power. Destruction will be playing against you. But on the offensive, you might want to bring someone who can see through the walls like Lion, giving you the winning edge.
Some people have felt that Extraction isn’t as focused on strategy as Siege. But what do you think are some aspects of the game that require the same amount of strategy and teamwork?
Clermont: There is strategy from the very beginning. You have to think of which parasites will be there, what the objective is. Based on that, you have to choose as a team operators and loadouts similar to Siege to make sure you have appropriate synergy to handle the situation.
The enemies are quite lethal. Your gun is not enough. Make sure you use your operator gadgets and gear in a proper way. It will make a huge difference how you do this as a team. For example, Fuse in a proper situation can make the challenge go from very, very hard to very, very easy. The more you can think before you act, that can make a huge difference.
What is something about the game that you think will surprise R6 fans?
Clermont: Something that could surprise fans is how technical the game is. The way you play in Siege may be good or bad in Extraction. Onboarding for the game is good. You start easy. But the deeper you go, the harder it’s going to get — the more teamwork and communication you’ll need and more technical sense needed as a team to see how far you can go. In Maelstrom mode, it's harder and harder as you go. And there are nine maps.
One of the biggest surprises — the alien archetypes. They not only look amazing but are very different from what you are expecting.
Sorel: One of the surprises, from my perception, is that there’s a lot of positive collaboration that comes from PvE. It’s a nice take on having people working together to achieve those challenges. Maelstrom is such a tough challenge. It brings out a wholly positive experience also.
And the aliens are really fucking badass. They are a tough challenge.
Clermont: The ability to progress. You're gaining levels on your account but also for each operator. You're leveling up and getting new tools, upgraded gadgets. That’s a pretty cool feeling as well.
Sorel: Players will be surprised about what we did for progression skins. I worked on those and they are really nice. There is a winter camo look with reflective bands on it. It makes operators stand out.
Clermont: There is something players can acquire from getting to the very end of Maelstrom. It’s like wearing a ribbon. We went through war, we won. You get to show off for a little while. That’s pretty cool.
Why do you think the R6 community has been sort of skeptical about the game?
Clermont: I think we have a super passionate community. That’s always nice to hear all the comments. We listen to a lot of comments. We look at Reddit. It’s nice to see those debates. It has some influence on our decisions.
But we are bringing a pretty interesting experience that the players will really enjoy. The launch of the game is just the start. We are going to bring a complete package that players can really enjoy.
What new content will be coming to Extraction later on?
Clermont: There is a story. Leveling up operators. New regions. But we have new content coming post-launch, like Crisis. New content, new operators. New aliens. There are some other surprises that I won’t spoil. But definitely more to come!
Why did the team decide to use operators from Siege rather than create new operators for Extraction?
Sorel: From the start, we made the choice… A lot of players would be from the Siege community and already know these operators. They are well-balanced. We picked the best for this kind of PvE experience. We went for these choices. Post-launch, more Siege operators coming out as well.
Clermont: I remember from the early discussion, there was a lot of criteria for picking operators. First is how would this operator be in a PvE environment. Would they bring something interesting? After, the criteria is how can we make them scaled. We wanted them to level up throughout the game. We were making sure that we bring a diverse experience. So we want to bring the best from the Siege that would translate.
The 18 from start are really good, and new ones will complement the gameplay as well. Also, can they bring something to the story? Some operators have new key roles in evolving the story.
How was creating Rainbow Six Extraction's overall vibe?
Sorel: We wanted to have our own flavor in this game. You're fighting an alien parasite so it makes sense to have a lot of contrast. The operators being very technical, organized, bold… The way you make your choices, you have to be bold sometimes. The parasites on the other side, they are organic and could almost feel disorganized. But they have their own organization.
We wanted to give a lot of tension to the player. To really have a different vibe from Siege. To really create this whole new mood to put you in. A lot of noises will immerse you even more. The sprawl as well. It’s covering the walls, the floor. We had to be smart about making that work. It was a real challenge. But it’s fun for the gameplay and really nice to have this layer on top of the map at the same time.
Clermont: The fact that we have the sprawl, the black, the darkness it brings. The dynamic effect it has, making them more effective and slowing you down. It makes the way you play on the map different every time. It impacts way you play, more tactfully. It’s a good connection between art/look and play. It makes it a really complete experience.
Yeah, the sound of the aliens lurking around was very creepy! Will Extraction ever be a competitive esports title?
Clermont: It’s never going to be a PvP game. But reaching the end will be competitive for some Siege players. Reaching towards those nine maps is not something you can do every time. It takes a lot of time and presence. You need to bring your A-game. The Siege crowd will like this competitiveness and the ranks you can get from this.