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‘Rainbow Six Extraction’ review: A condensed co-op experience that builds on the series’ strengths

Ubisoft has created a pared-down game that hits more often than it misses

Jasper Pickering
Wednesday 19 January 2022 11:32 GMT
This spin-off in the franchise throws players into the middle of a parasitic alien invasion
This spin-off in the franchise throws players into the middle of a parasitic alien invasion (Ubisoft)

In 2021, Rainbow Six Siege – a tactical shooter that was first released in 2015 – reached a total of 70 million registered players. It’s still seen as a darling of the competitive shooter genre, and is consistently praised for its deep mechanics and approach to grounded but fast-paced gameplay.

So what would happen if those same mechanics were transplanted into a new sci-fi setting, with a larger focus on cooperative gameplay and a series of randomised objectives?

As it turns out, you end up with a tightly orchestrated theatre of action that implements some of the series’ most rewarding aspects in a condensed package.

Introducing a new co-operative mode to the tried and tested combat of Rainbow Six has created a pared-down experience for new players in a non-competitive space.

Extraction helps to bring its established functions into a new realm that gives existing fans something fresh and potential players an excuse to give it a try.

How we tested

Rainbow Six Extraction was tested using a PS5 copy of the game provided by the publisher prior to the official release date. We made several playthroughs to try each of the different game modes on offer, with a variety of Rainbow Six operators, to experience different styles of play.

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‘Rainbow Six Extraction'

rainbow six extraction PS5 cover Indybest review

Buy now £39.99,

  • Consoles: Xbox One/PS4/PS5/Xbox series X and S/PC/Google Stadia
  • Developer: Ubisoft
  • Release date: 20 January 2022
  • Price: £39.99
  • Rating: 7/10

Three years before the events of Rainbow Six Extraction, a Russian Soyuz space capsule crashes in the city of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, carrying with it an unknown alien parasite that causes outbreaks across different regions of the United States.

Rainbow HQ launches Operation Outbreak and assembles a team of operators to infiltrate each quarantine zone and complete a number of objectives in order to learn about this new threat.

The story functions to throw existing characters into this alien spin-off to justify the presence of aliens in the world of Rainbow Six. Beyond a handful of cut scenes and an extensive codex to scroll through, the plot doesn’t have much bearing on how the game plays.

Extraction is concerned with explaining itself much more than Siege ever was, which further works to help distinguish itself from its predecessor.


Each mission, known as an “incursion”, takes place in one of four regions; New York, San Francisco, Alaska or New Mexico. There are three maps per region and each map is divided into three separate areas, which leads to a grand total of 36 playable areas across 12 levels.

Incursions are randomly generated and broken into three separate objectives, one for each area of the map. A team of up to three operators will be dropped in the first area and can choose to either complete the objective there for experience points or move onto the next area for a higher reward, with the completion of all three objectives netting the highest possible score.

Having each level spread out across three areas makes for a satisfying enough challenge while keeping things varied. Incursions don’t wear out their welcomes, as each objective needs to be completed within a 15-minute timespan before moving to the next area, or deciding to cash out early.

Objectives range from planting trackers on alien nests to luring strong enemies out of hiding by killing their subordinates and extracting VIPs using stealth to ensure they make it back safely. In total, there are around a dozen objective types randomly assigned to each of the three areas.

The variety of objectives means that each playthrough has to be tackled differently. Some lend themselves well to a stealthier approach, while others favour more firepower, so it’s best to choose an operator based on how well suited they are for each objective. For example, Pulse is able to track nests and VIPs through walls using a heartbeat sensor and Sledge is able to create new openings in walls for quicker methods of entry or escape.

If operators are defeated during an incursion, they will be considered MIA and need to be recovered by another character, which helps add an element of suspense when returning to an area and playing double-or-nothing with your remaining operators. If these missions fail, then they aren’t lost forever, but they do lose a significant amount of progress.

There are plenty of opportunities to replay all of these maps as each incursion leads to randomly assigned objectives with different enemy placements and objective locations. It means that revisiting each location brings with it new challenges and map familiarity, with enough variety to not feel repetitive. As characters make progress, higher difficulties are unlocked that provide a wider array of enemy types as well as more opportunities to earn XP.

The problem comes, however, when consecutive objectives can lead to a skills imbalance. If the first objective in an incursion relies on stealth and the next is more demanding of brute force, then it can be difficult to maintain progress as you are unable to change operators between areas. It can often lead to encounters that are occasionally unfair and bowing out is the only reasonable measure in the hopes of a more balanced incursion in the next game.

The verdict: ‘Rainbow Six Extraction’

When Extraction plays well, it plays excellently. That’s no doubt that, in part due to the strong foundations that helped to define Siege as an incredibly detailed first-person shooter, and by scaling back to focus on a co-operative experience, Extraction has done well to retain the look and, more importantly, the feel of its competitive counterpart while carving out its own niche. When its sights are aligned it hits more often than it misses, and fans of the Rainbow Six series will find plenty to like about this spin-off.

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