Rainbow Six Extraction's full release seemed promising after I previewed it last month. Moving away from its predecessor’s PvP focus for PvE gameplay, Extraction offers a major expansion on Siege’s Outbreak event, where we took down an alien invasion in New Mexico. After several delays and some rebranding, it’s finally here for PC, Xbox, Stadia and Luna.
Extraction sees Rainbow’s REACT unit taking down a new threat to humanity, parasitic aliens called Archæans. Whether you’re working alone or as a 3-player team, there’s plenty to like about Ubisoft’s latest shooter and its unique setting - but it's hard to justify Extraction being its own game.
Set several years after Outbreak, Extraction sees the Chimera Parasite evolving into Archæans, escaping containment, and taking root in four different locations: New York City, San Francisco, Alaska, and New Mexico. Thanks to REACT, containment hot zones are set up to stop them spreading, and though only New York is initially available, you’ll unlock more after hitting “Development Milestones,” Extraction’s progression system.
Once you pick a hot zone, you’ll select your operator, and they're a bit too familiar for longtime Siege fans. There’s not a single new operator between the 18 launch characters. Everyone’s from Siege. Some characters have altered movesets, but it doesn’t help Extraction’s case as a standalone experience.
Alongside customisable loadouts and various cosmetics, each operator has special abilities that complement different playstyles. Doc’s Stim Pistol heals 20 HP per shot, also allowing self-revival when downed. Finka can provide herself (and teammates) an adrenal surge, temporarily boosting health. Rook drops equippable armour, while Pulse can deploy cardiac sensors to detect threats. Sticking to set characters builds their XP, which improves abilities as the operator levels up and gives you a reason not to swap operators too often.
Risk or Reward
Missions are split between three map objectives, which helps keep things varied. For example, Biopsy has you attacking Archæans with a knife to collect DNA samples. Shooting it won’t do. Hunt makes you eliminate alpha rated “Regular Archæans” before an Elite variant arrives, or you could be fending off hordes of aliens to defend a point. Some objectives also require stealth as you plant trackers on non-alert enemy nests to gather intel.
What makes each mission feel even more exciting is that objectives are almost never pre-determined, and Extraction employs a risk-or-reward approach. You could finish the first objective and escape if your team’s taken damage, or you can move onto the second or third objectives for more EXP - and an increased threat from enemies. Archæans also come in multiple varieties, ranging from the average grunt to bloaters that release poisonous gas when they’ve exploded and plenty more atrocious monstrosities besides.
Extraction balances missions by party size, meaning solo players aren’t automatically disadvantaged over 3-player teams. Still, while playing alone was fine, it’s clear Ubisoft designed this as a co-op experience, and taking on objectives with friends was much more enjoyable.
You’ve got to remain tactical even in a full squad, though, as enemies can knock significant HP off you in one hit. All it takes is one ill-planned manoeuvre and you’re suddenly floored. It's surprisingly punishing, but it also has several difficulties to help mitigate the challenge or ramp it up.
Avoid The Sprawl
Levels are also filled with black gunk known as sprawl, which exists purely to make your life harder. It slows down movement when you walk across it. You can shoot or melee sprawl to clear it - but Archæans remain unaffected, even doing stronger damage in these areas. It also adds an ominous atmosphere to hot zones, and works in tandem with the difficulty and fantastic audio design to build a sense of heightened tension.
Once you’ve been extracted, or killed, you'll progress with the help of Extraction's generous XP share system. Killed is the bad option, though, as the system is balanced where losing operators during a mission removes 30% of that XP. A teammate is revivable if downed, but only once. Should they fall again, they’re gone for good, requiring you carry them to an Extraction pod. Failure to save your operator means they’ll be unavailable in the next mission, mandating you rescue them as an objective.
Levelling up also adds more customisable options for your operator’s loadout, providing different weapons, mods and unlockable tech. There’s a good range available, whether you fancy better armour, revival kits, larger ammo pouches or something else, but it takes time to get there. You’ll need patience before Extraction truly opens itself up to you.
Extraction includes a high contrast option, a “coloursafe” mode that better differentiates colours across these environments and makes its moody, tense environments more accessible to colourblind players. There's also a custom option that lets you tweak individual aspects, such as teammate colours. Better still, Extraction’s accessibility options also offer “text to speech” for text chat entries and adjustable subtitle sizes.
Rainbow Six Extraction Review - Is It Worth It?
Rainbow Six Extraction is a uniquely enjoyable entry in Team Rainbow’s history, though the significant crossover with its predecessor makes me feel like Ubisoft could’ve opted for a Siege expansion instead. It's not a huge problem for Ubisoft+ or Game Pass subscribers, sure, but it's a steeper ask for everyone else.
That said, Extraction remains great fun, and the new settings meant my time with the familiar operators still felt fresh and interesting. It’s surprisingly challenging at times, and while missions do require trial-and-error, the level design is excellent. Extraction won’t set the genre alight like Siege did, though if you’re after a new PvE experience, I’d still give it my recommendation.
Reviewed on PC using these specs, played with both an Xbox Series controller and mouse/keyboard.
Buy Rainbow Six Extraction now.