Rainbow Six Extraction: Ubisoft's big Siege spin-off explained

Rainbow Six Extraction - Weird goo is stuck to the mask of Sledge on a yellow background
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

It's been a long time coming, but Rainbow Six Extraction (not Quarantine or Parasite, as it was once titled) is finally on the way. We first heard about the game at E3 2019 and after two full years of silence, Ubisoft re-debuted the game at its E3 2021 Ubisoft Forward show. It's got a lot of the good Siege stuff players love like returning operators, destruction, precise gunplay, and gadgets plus a boatload of alien zombies that are pretty gross to look at.

The best part is that we don't have to wait very long to play it ourselves. Extraction is dropping later this year with 3-player co-op missions that Ubi hopes will keep you busy for a long time.

Here's a full breakdown of Rainbow Six Extraction, including detailed hands-on impressions and a video preview.

When does Rainbow Six Extraction release?

Initially announced by Ubisoft during E3 2021 for a September 2021 release, it was later delayed. We know now that Rainbow Six Extraction is releasing January 20, 2022 on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S/X.

What is Rainbow Six Extraction?

Rainbow Six Extraction is Ubisoft's take on the recently-reignited co-op zombie shooter genre, similar to Left 4 Dead or Back 4 Blood. It's 3-player co-op and has no PvP element, but it can be played solo if you so desire. The game is built on the same framework as the PvP game Rainbow Six Siege, which means everything from the guns, movement, and in-game tools will feel familiar if you've played that game.

Think of it as a big-budget total conversion mod.

That said, it's worth clarifying that Extraction is being developed by a completely separate team than Siege within Ubisoft Montreal. 

Watch our Rainbow Six Extraction E3 2021 hands-on preview

We've played Rainbow Six Extraction. It's pretty fun, but we're not totally convinced its slow, methodical pacing is the right direction for a co-op zombie shooter. Extraction has Siege's operators and destruction engine, but does it use them well? Watch Morgan and James talk about their time with the game above and then read Morgan's full written impressions over here.

Watch the dramatic cinematic trailer from Ubisoft Forward

It's not totally indicative of Rainbow Six Extraction's gameplay, but the dramatic cinematic trailer shown at Ubisoft Forward sure is a cool watch. The trailer shows a team of operators on a mission to save Hibana from a gooey parasite tree, which is an actual thing you have to do when one of your operators goes down mid-mission.

Missions are partially procedurally generated

Rainbow Six Extraction is not a procedurally generated game, but bits and pieces of its missions are. Each mission is broken up into three "sub-map" areas each with its own objective. The layouts of the 12 total maps do not change, but the order in which you play them does. Loads of other details are also randomized, like which objectives you'll be assigned, where on the map they're located, and which alien zombie types will try to stop you.

r6 extraction - A character looks down the sights of an SMG

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Rainbow Six Extraction operators we know about

So far, it looks like all of Rainbow Six Extraction's operators will carry over from Siege. We had access to nine operators in our hands-on demo, but there will be a total of 18 in at launch.

Here are all the operators we know are in the game so far:

  • Sledge
  • Hibana
  • Ela
  • Pulse
  • Doc
  • Lion
  • Alibi
  • Finka
  • Vigil
  • Capitao (trailer)
  • IQ (trailer, maybe)
  • Tachanka (trailer)
  • Nomad (trailer)

Those are all of the operators that are obviously playable, but there are a few others seen in cutscenes and cinematics that may or may not be playable as well: Ash, Thermite, and Mira.

While it'd be cool to play as these recognizable faces, it doesn't seem very likely. Ash seems to be the voice in your squad's ears throughout missions, so it wouldn't make a lot of sense to have her in the mission as well. Neither Thermite nor Mira's gadgets would make much sense in a PvE scenario either, so fair enough.

Mission types

We only got to see a few of Extraction's mission types in action during our hands-on preview, but Ubi went into details about how all 11 will work. Players have a chance of getting assigned any of these objectives when loading into a mission. The only exception is the No One Left Behind mission, which is apparently a guaranteed objective if one of the players currently has an MIA operator.

  • Specimen: Lead a parasite to an extraction zone and capture it alive
  • Decontamination: Find and gather samples from contaminated parasite nests
  • Nest Tracking: Sneak up to and plant trackers on inactive nests without being detected
  • Triangulation: Find and activate three specific laptop stations in the map
  • Serial Scan: Capture and secure a series of areas while holding off waves of aliens
  • Hunt: Kill parasites until an Elite Archaean appears, and defeat it
  • Rescue: Locate and carry a VIP to the extraction zone
  • No One Left Behind: Bring back your fallen teammate to the extraction zone. This objective only activates if a squad member falls while playing
  • Shutdown: Carry three explosive charges to a parasite tower to disable it
  • Sabotage: Defend explosive charges for a set time while fending off waves of aliens
  • Biopsy: Collect a tissue sample from a specific target via takedown

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Every alien parasite type

Like the mission types, you shouldn't expect to see every single enemy in a given mission. There are seven core alien types in all with a few extra threats that hide in the environment.

Here's the full list:

  • Nests: Bulbous, stationary growths that continuously spread the Sprawl (the black gooey stuff) if left alive
  • Grunt: A fast-moving melee attacker
  • Bloater: Rushes forward and detonates on contact, releasing toxic gas
  • Spiker: Shoots projectiles out of its arm
  • Breacher: Carries explosive fluid on their back and can detonate on contact, affecting both humans and other aliens
  • Sower: A parasite that can blind players and set traps
  • Rooter: Produces a substance that inflicts damage and immobilizes targets in its area-of-effect
  • Lurker: Primarily a support unit to buff other aliens, can make itself and other alien units invisible
  • Sticky spores: Small floating spores that stick to operators on contact to inflict damage and obstruct vision
  • Sludge: A slimy threat that can ambush operators from the floor or ceiling, divides into smaller pieces when killed

Crossplay and cross-progression are in

Like pretty much every Ubisoft game nowadays, Rainbow Six Extraction will support both crossplay and cross-progression. Great news! Its 6-year-old PvP cousin Rainbow Six Siege is also getting crossplay on consoles this year, but PC players won't be joining the party. Ubi didn't mention a similar restriction for Extraction (likely not needed because Extraction isn't a competitive game), so it's safe to assume PC players and console players will be able to group up.

Shooting the goo is really satisfying

I'm still not totally sure what ASMR is, but it's probably however I feel shooting Rainbow Six Extraction's gross, sticky goo stuff. I love the way it slowly dies with every bullet you shoot at it and lets you cut out a makeshift path to objectives.

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.