Rainbow Six Extraction is a great co-op shooter, seeing you take on hordes of aliens in squads of three. There’s a wide selection of character abilities and upgrades here, with rewarding level progression to boot, but the limited content on offer at launch fails to justify the steep cost, leaving Extraction feeling more like an expansion pack than an independent entry in the Rainbow Six series.
- One of most enjoyable PvE shooters in recent memory
- Large selection of characters and abilities
- Rewarding progression
- Good range of mission objectives
- High price considering the amount of content at launch
- Slow health regeneration will be divisive
- Combat-focused missions at odds with stealth focus
- Genre: Tactical co-op shooterTake on hordes of aliens with squads of up to three players.
- Platforms:PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, Google Stadia and Amazon Luna
Co-op shooters have seen a resurgence recently, with the likes of Back 4 Blood allowing you to team up with your friends to take on AI-controlled foes rather than infuriatingly skilled 12-year-old players online.
Rainbow Six Extraction is the latest online co-op shooter, acting as a spin-off to the immensely popular Rainbow Six Siege. In Extraction, you’re tasked with taking down aliens instead of terrorists, adding a science fiction twist to the militaristic realism of the mainline series.
Commonly mistaken as an expansion – although that’s understandable since Extraction is based on a Siege game mode called Outbreak – this spin-off is actually a new, independent entry in the Rainbow Six series, complete with 12 maps, 18 playable characters and a rewarding progression system.
However, with no campaign or PvP mode available at launch, the £39.99 RRP feels pretty steep – and that’s following a last-minute price drop before launch. Can Rainbow Six Extraction justify the high price despite the limited content, or will Ubisoft rue its decision to snub the free-to-play model, especially since it already features plenty of in-game cosmetic purchases.
- Can play in a squad with a total of three players
- Great variety of enemy aliens to hunt down
- Focus on stealth, although combat missions included too
Rainbow Six Extraction is a co-op shooter, allowing squads of three to take on the alien horde. You’re also able to play in a team of two or alone if you prefer, but I always had far more fun when playing in a trio.
This is partly because the difficulty scaling is very hit and miss. Mission objectives will become simplified when playing solo, but the difficulty can drop to such a degree that it no longer feels like a challenge. Part of the fun here is coordinating with your squadmates to complete each mission as efficiently as possible – take the co-op element away, and Extraction just feels like a mediocre stealth shooter.
You’re able to assemble a squad either by inviting friends to your party, or using the online matchmaking system to team up with strangers. I’ve unfortunately not been able to do the latter, as it’s proven difficult to find other players ahead of launch. But despite Ubisoft Montreal introducing a ping system to make it easier to communicate with online players, I’d still recommend playing this with a group of friends instead.
Extraction features several compact maps in regions such as New York, Alaska and New Mexico. The maps are honestly a little bland, with few distinctive design features separating them. But unlike the grounded Rainbow Six Siege, these locations are overrun with hostile aliens.
There’s a large variety of enemy types here, ranging from your average grunts and Bloaters that can explode in your face, to Lurkers that can turn fellow aliens invisible. Cranking up the difficulty will see you encounter even more challenging enemies, while also increasing the bounty of experience points on offer. I really enjoyed encountering new species of Archaean throughout my playthrough, adding a greater incentive to hone my skills and level up each character so I could brave the higher difficulty levels.
There’s also an abundance of alien nests dotted around each map, which can continuously respawn new enemies once you’ve been detected. This means charging in guns blazing without a plan will likely result in failure, since the opposition can send out endless waves.
As a result, Extraction encourages a stealthy approach, as sneaking around the map to silently destroy each nest will substantially boost your odds of survival against the alien horde – it’s a clever addition to maintain the stealth roots of the series rather than converting into a more conventional horde shooter.
Each round features three different missions, which are randomly picked from a pool of 12. There’s a great selection here, with the likes of Nest Tracking requiring you to plant trackers on each nest without alerting enemies, and Biopsy where you need to take down a specific alien with your knife.
The vast majority of these mission objectives are good fun with a challenging but fair difficulty, and enough randomness thrown in (for the likes of enemy types and locations) to keep things fresh for repeated playthroughs. However, there are a couple of missions here that conflict with the focus on stealth.
For example, both Serial Scan and Sabotage task you with guarding designated areas against an onslaught of aliens, making your stealth skills redundant in the process. I wouldn’t mind this so much if enemies spawned from nests, enabling you to make the task easier by reducing the number of spawn points beforehand, but the aliens will instead charge in from the outer bounds of the map.
This wouldn’t usually be an issue for a co-op shooter, but Extraction can prove very punishing in combat, with aliens capable of downing you in a couple of swipes, especially at the higher difficulty settings. This makes sense for the stealth segments, adding real consequences to being detected, but it’s absolutely infuriating when forced into combat.
Fortunately, you’re able to skip any objective you want. If your health is seriously depleted or you just don’t fancy the next task, you can go to the Extraction area and abandon the remaining missions to secure all of the experience points you’ve gained so far. Or if you’re feeling brave, you can traverse through all three sections of the map in order to get the most experience points possible.
Securing a bounty of experience points is incredibly important in Extraction, as it not only powers up your chosen character, but also increases your overall level in order to unlock more maps and difficulty settings.
- Roster of 18 playable characters
- Good range of weapons, from pistols to shotguns
- Characters need to be rescued after failed missions
With Extraction swapping terrorists for aliens and PvP for PvE, you may be confused as to how this new game fits into the Rainbow Six series. Ubisoft Montreal justifies this by cherry picking playable characters from the Rainbow Six Siege roster.
Not everyone makes the jump over to Extraction, since they need to fit into the new format, but the likes of Alibi and Pulse make smooth transitions, with the former being able to create holograms to distract the enemy, while the latter can detect enemy nests from afar.
Still, I think the decision to link Extraction to the Rainbow Six world feels a little jarring. It would have made more sense for Ubisoft to create an all-new IP and fully embrace the sci-fi angle, but it seemingly wanted to keep the traction of the Rainbow Six name. Most features make the jump over to Extraction well, although the likes of remote drones feel out of place here.
Each operator has their own unique loadout of weapons, which is arguably even more important than their special abilities. Pistols and rifles with suppressors are almost essential for stealth missions, although shotguns can still come in handy for gunning down armoured foes. Fortunately, levelling up your characters will increase their selection of weapons, while also boosting health and the power of their special abilities. This means that it’s essential that you level up your character to a high level if you plan on taking on the higher difficulty settings.
There are 18 players at launch, although you’ll need to unlock a large chunk of those characters by levelling up. It can sometimes feel like a chore to gain enough experience points, especially if you stick to the easiest difficulty level. But I do like the variety of operators here, with a great variety of special powers whether you want to be a medic, an expert in stealth or you fancy an automated turret to help out with the horde.
In what may well be a controversial feature, characters won’t regain full health after each mission, instead seeing their health bar replenished incrementally depending on how many experience points you earn. This means you probably won’t be able to keep picking the same character over and over again. I personally like this feature, helping to change up your squad’s dynamic on the regular, but I can see it being divisive since players won’t be able to focus on improving their skills with just one character ability.
Dying on a mission will also see your character become ‘missing in action’, making them unavailable in your roster until you successfully rescue them. Failing to extract will also see you lose experience points, potentially even dropping you down a level. It’s a clever way to add major consequences to each death, so you really need to think wisely about whether you should extract or try out the next mission objective.
- No campaign mode or PvP multiplayer on offer
- In-game purchases feel excessive with high game price
- End-game content provides a great challenge for veterans
I’ve had a lot of fun playing Rainbow Six Extraction over the last few days. The progression system is fantastic, providing you with a constant trickle of new characters, maps, upgrades and gadgets as you gain more experience points.
However, for a game with a £39.99 RRP, I’m a little concerned by the lack of content here. The PvE mode is good fun in groups of three, although once you’ve hit level 17 there isn’t too much of an incentive to keep on playing in the standard game mode.
To keep things interesting, Ubisoft will rotate additional challenging game modes on a weekly basis, with the likes of Wall-to-Wall seeing multiple waves of enemies at a high difficulty setting, while Kick the Anthill tasks you with destroying all of the enemy nests as quickly as possible.
And then there’s Maelstrom Protocol, which is considered to be the ‘end game mode’ and ups the mission objectives available in each round from three to nine. This is only recommended for experienced players who have maxed out their character’s level to 10. It’s good to see that Ubisoft has included a couple of game modes to keep skilled players interested, but I still don’t think that’s enough content for the price.
It’s unusual to see a PvE game with no campaign mode or PvP attached. I know that Rainbow Six Siege doesn’t have a campaign either (if you don’t count its bite-size Situations that are more akin to a tutorial) but I personally believe PvP games offer more longevity.
In its current state, Rainbow Six Extraction feels like an excellent expansion pack to Rainbow Six Siege, or the starting point of a free-to-play game with a bright future. But I just don’t believe the content in Extraction currently justifies its high upfront cost, especially when you have to spend even more money to unlock cosmetic items.
With in-game purchases already integrated into Extraction, it’s a real-head scratcher why Ubisoft didn’t opt for the free-to-play model that’s been hugely successful for the likes of Fortnite and Apex Legends.
Should you buy it?
If you subscribe to Game Pass:
Rainbow Six Extraction will be available via both Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass at launch. Given my main concern of this game is pricing, this overcomes Extraction’s greatest flaw right away.
You want a campaign mode or PvP multiplayer:
Extraction bizarrely only offers a PvE mode, making it a poor choice for those who want to play alone. There’s also no multiplayer PvP mode here, which is strange given that’s what the Rainbow Six is renowned for.
I’ve had a really good time with Rainbow Six Extraction during the review period, with its great focus on co-op making it a joy to play in a squad of three. There’s a great incentive for levelling up, with plenty of upgrades and unlockable characters on offer, while the higher difficulties throw in more varied enemy types and surprising twists.
However, I’m surprised that Ubisoft has failed to add in a campaign mode, or even PvP multiplayer. As such, there isn’t enough content here to justify the cost, making Extraction feel like a expansion pack rather than an all-new independent entry in the series. It’s definitely worth checking out for Game Pass subscribers though.
How we test
We play every game we review through to the end, outside of certain exceptions where getting 100% completion, like Skyrim, is close to impossible to do. When we don’t fully finish a game before reviewing it we will always alert the reader.
Played all the available game modes
Tested on PS5
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Not quite. Extraction is supposed to act as spin-off entry in the Rainbow Six series, but features some of the same characters from Rainbow Six Siege.
Yes, this isn’t an expansion or a free-to-play game, so you’ll need to buy this game separately from Siege in order to play.
Yes, you can play Extraction with friends on other consoles, as long as they have the game as well.