Rainbow Six Extraction: Operator progression, unlocks, and loadouts guide [updated]

By Luke Albigés,
Update: A new patch for Rainbow Six Extraction has brought some fresh ways to go toe-to-toe with the Archean threat — a limited-time mode in Spillover, a new piece of equipment to unlock (the Auto Turret), and the game’s first additional Operator, Zofia. Spillover will be live until March 10th, with the Auto Turret available via the mode’s limited Studies, so you may want to get it unlocked sooner rather than later since it is currently unclear how it will be obtained once Spillover disappears out of rotation. Zofia, meanwhile, is a permanent addition to the game. Spillover itself is a pretty straightforward game mode — effectively just a string of zone defence objectives which are a fusion of Sabotage and Shutdown, with enemies able to have several different Mutations — but Zofia and the new turret are worth a closer look, so let’s get into it!

New Operator

Zofia

rainbow six extraction zofia

Unlocked:Progression Milestone 1
Role:Disruption/Offence
Tags:Stun, Knockback
Unique Equipment:KS79 Lifeline (dual-mode grenade launcher)
Key Perk(s):Extra Shots (level 2), Resilient Revival (level 5), Withstanding (level 7), Recharging Ammo (level 10)
Newcomer Zofia certainly has a lot going for her, and there are few other Operators who can bring this level of versatility to the parasite pulping party. This all begins with her unique equipment, the KS79 Lifeline — a grenade launcher that can switch between impact and stun rounds, effectively making Zofia a mix of Ela and Hibana. While Lifeline shots aren’t as easy to use as Ela’s Grzmot Mines or as deadly as Hibana’s X-Kairos rounds, that’s the trade-off for having access to both stun and damage in a single tool. Zofia would still be good if that was all the Lifeline did, but there’s even more to it. Firstly, it makes her resistant to blinding effects (such as from Blinding Spores), which is a pretty minor perk in group play where spores are easily removed by allies, but a nice bonus in solo play. The second additional effect is even better, allowing Zofia to simply pick herself up when downed. Given that she also gets Resilient Revival, Zofia is one of the hardest operators to put down for good once you get her levelled up, which, combined with her versatile kit, makes her a great choice for late-game solo content.

Given that she comes with both damage and stun options as standard, your gear slots are freed up for tools that make Zofia even more well-rounded. I’ve made my love for smoke grenades clear elsewhere in this article, although as some folks have correctly pointed out, smokes aren’t the best when playing with randoms as they can do more harm than good if communication is poor. Instead, you might consider paralysis grenades to hold key targets in place while you dump a few Lifeline impact rounds into them, or additional explosives like mines and Nitro Cells which can be safely deployed against powerful stunned enemies. As for weapons, her default LMG-E offers decent damage and a gigantic 150-round clip, offset by horrendous reload speed that will force you to pull out her single sidearm option in longer, more heated engagements. Later unlocks can help with this, though — the first, the M762 AR, feels like the best fit for such a versatile character, with a bullet-hose SMG and a combat shotgun further down the unlock tree if you prefer close-quarters options.

New Gear

Auto Turret

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The new Crisis event, Spillover, introduced a bunch of new Studies which unlock special event cosmetics, with one task — Calibration — permanently unlocking a new gadget, the Auto Turret. Unlike the rest of the tasks, Calibration tracks across all modes and not just Spillover, so you should easily be able to power through the 500 required kills (nests and spores both count, so the tracker flies up) and grab the turret. It’s unique in that it’s an offensive tool in what is typically more of a passive slot, meaning that if you’ve already got armour (whether through an intrinsic perk or having Rook on the team) and don’t need to run a drone, there’s a strong argument to be made for bringing this powerful turret along. The main thing to bear in mind is that while it is really quite strong, it’s also very noisy, so primarily useful in objectives where going loud is the only option, like Sabotage and Serial Scan, or as a last line of defence when things go south. The turret only has around a 90-degree field of vision so placement is important, especially since it’s pretty fragile, but can be deployed and retrieved as often as you like and its 60-round clip can be refreshed simply by grabbing REACT Gear crates. It’s situationally a very strong piece of kit and a welcome addition to the gear pool, especially since it makes solo Sabotage objectives viable for a lot more Operators, even if the targeting can be somewhat finicky at times.

Original article: For newcomers, Rainbow Six Extraction can be a little daunting, especially if you're not familiar with Siege, as the two share a lot of mechanics and characters. To help with that, we put together this (hopefully) helpful guide. If you're still on the fence about the game, you can always check out our review to see if it sounds like your jam, or just give it a bash for yourself — it's on Xbox Game Pass, so jumping in to try it out couldn't be a whole lot easier. Either way, if you're heading into battle against the Archeans, you might stand to benefit from a few of the things I picked up when playing the game extensively for review.

We'll only be touching on weapon options for each Operator quite briefly and broadly, as a lot of that will come down to personal preference and team composition — aside from Alibi's pathetic Mx4 Storm SMG (which may as well be a water pistol) and a couple of the sidearms (understandably), most weapons pack a decent punch so it's more a question of trying them out as you unlock them and finding what works for you and your squad. Do consider swapping out your sidearms as needed based on mission objectives, though... Shutdown and Rescue tasks will leave you one-handed as you transport a valuable resource, so a noisy-ass Magnum might not be the best thing to bring along. We're also not going to cover Explosives in too much depth, as it should be pretty obvious which ones will be useful for which objectives, plus the smoke grenades are by far the best general purpose option anyway, purely for that utility factor. One final thing, the 'role' titles offered here are our own descriptors to help give a better idea of what part each Operator plays in the squad dynamic, rather than official terms. With that out of the way, let's go over some general advice for new players, then dive into the individual Operators to see what their main strengths and weaknesses are...

General tips

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  • Fear the howl. If an Operator is spotted by an enemy (listen out for that little chime) close enough to them, you'll have just a moment to put the enemy down before it yells, alerting nearby enemies and causing Nests in the vicinity to activate and produce more enemies. Preventing this should always be a priority, as one howl in the wrong spot can ruin a Incursion. If an enemy is allowed to get a howl off (sometimes it can't be helped, and sometimes it's even worth risking one just to get a takedown opportunity on a key target like a Smasher), group up and sweep that location as quickly as you can to remove activated Nests and stem the tide — leave them unchecked and you'll just find yourselves fending off endless waves, wasting your precious resources.
  • Don't fear the Sprawl. There are plenty of ways to destroy it, you can often control its spread via efficient play (only active Nests and sloppy kills allow it to spread, save for a specific Mutation), and you even unlock a laser at Milestone 25 that just melts the stuff. Even when it's acidic thanks to the scary mid-tier Mutation, don't stress over it too much — it doesn't do that much damage, and you can skip over small patches without harm. We've seen allies frozen with fear after being painted into a corner... if needs be, get in the muck for a moment and blast your way out. You're a sitting duck otherwise.
  • Smoke grenades are amazing. Enemies in the cloud are easy takedown targets, they can completely block choke points, and even cover a retreat. There are stronger situational tools in the kit bag, but if in doubt, just go with the one that does everything.
  • Don't mute in-game chat. For some bizarre reason, muting a player also stops you from seeing their pings, which can make coordination extremely difficult. Hopefully this will be addressed in a future update, because it's dumb. Dumb like a moose.
  • If you get spores on you, don't panic. Other Operators can shoot or melee them off before they detonate, or if you're playing solo, many gadgets can do the same thing, from Jäger's turret to Ela's mines. Failing that, just fall back to an area you've already cleared out (an airlock is ideal, especially an unused one as you can shut yourself in) and get to a safe distance before your coughing fit. It barely does damage, but the combo of alerting enemies and blinding you is usually pretty grim.
  • You pick Operators after you see your three objectives for a reason. Rather than just auto-picking a favourite, pay attention to the mission goals and Mutation (if any) to see what would give your team the best chance of success. A high-level Pulse or Vigil can boost squad movement speed to make Rescue ops quicker and safer, for example, while Jäger's turrets are always a welcome sight in a zone defence mission like Sabotage.
  • If your best Operator gets picked by someone else, don't sweat it — generalist characters like Alibi and Doc can always add value to a team regardless of the objective. You'll likely want to level them all at some point anyway.
  • Leave nothing behind! Even if a health pack would only give you a few extra HP, grab it on your way out of an area as you'll lose it otherwise. Same goes for ability recharges (get healing, Doc), while ammo and REACT tech don't seem to have a cap. Conversely, unused stuff in an airlock will still be accessible from the next area — tag it and/or remember to come back for it once you've abused this wonderful excuse to blow all of your resources then top them back up!
  • Shutdown objectives are an excellent way to rack up incredible amounts of XP. To start, carefully do a lap and take out all of the enemies in the area without an alert. When the coast is clear, all that's left to do is go around taking down the Nests — they'll respawn after a minute or so and there are usually loads, especially on a tougher difficulty level. Scanned Nests destroyed with a melee takedown should earn you around 80XP a piece, which soon adds up as you run loops of the map until time is nearly up, then quickly go do the obective and get out. You'll probably want to do this solo if you can, so you get to hog all the sweet XP for yourself, though it's still lucrative in a group as there are even more Nests in co-op. In fact, you could even boost this by having two generous buddies help out with the cleanup operation, then let you bash all the Nests for even greater gains.
  • You don't have to do everything. If you don't like a set of objectives, just go ahead and nope out as soon as you load in. Or, if you'd rather at least get something to show for your trip, selectively clear objectives while skipping others. If you're just doing this for an easier ride, consider intentionally getting an Operator MIA on the map you want to challenge first. This will guarantee an MIA rescue mission (which, in my opinion, is the easiest objective), meaning less chance to get one of the ones you don't want. Oh, and don't be disheartened when you see an MIA as the final objective — MIA, Rescue, and Specimen are actually the ones you want to see in that slot as they all take you to the extraction point.

Operators

Doc

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Unlocked:Progression Milestone 1
Role:Healer
Tags:Health Boost, Range Revive
Unique Equipment:Health Shots (healing pistol)
Key Perk(s):Potency (level 7), Stabilize (level 10)
Doc's healing might not be very potent to begin with, but its real potential isn't in topping up a little lost health — it's instantly picking downed Operators up to get them back in the fight without risking them going MIA. Both healing potency and number of charges increase as you level up, rising to 30HP per heal at max level, and with five shots. His starting shotgun holds up well even in harder content, and once you unlock some other guns, it can be fun to swap your weapon roles, using the beast of a Magnum as a primary, with a bullet-hose SMG as a backup option. Doc's main drawback is that if your team performs well, he doesn't add a whole lot of value. Unless allies need healing or reviving, he's outclassed by most other Operators, especially those whose key abilities are proactive rather than reactive.

As for gear, you'll never need to take the Revive Kit as Doc as he can get himself up with one use of Health Shots (so best keep at least one spare!), and he misses out on one of the benefits of Body Armor too, so that's not the best pick either. The drones are always good (especially the XR one that auto-scans enemies as you zip it around) so we won't explain those again after this — usually it's a good idea for one person to bring one along, but more is typically overkill. Doc is actually one of the better drone users, as other Operators might have a harder time giving up Revive Kits and Body Armor to make room for it. Otherwise, an Explosive Harness for three extra smokes is never going to be a bad pick.

Ela

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Unlocked:Progression Milestone 1
Role:Disruption
Tags:Stun, Push
Unique Equipment:Grzmot Mines (deployable stun mines)
Key Perk(s):Blast Radius (level 7), Grzmot Capacity (level 10)
Given how powerful stun effects are in Extraction, it should come as no surprise that Ela is probably one of the overall strongest Operators in the game. Every single enemy type is susceptible to this stagger effect, which sets up instant kills on all bar the Apex, and Ela's carry capacity grows as she is levelled up. Oh, and did we forget to mention that they recharge over time, with charge time also being cut as you level up? Stupidly strong. It doesn't even have to be used like a typical mine — lob it into a crowd and it'll go off right after a very short delay, buying you time to scrape an ally up off the ground, or go in for a takedown or three. Extremely versatile, and bottomless... what a combo. One trade-off is that her weapons aren't the best, but the last two (the LMG and AR) are decent, although she has no alternative sidearm options at all.

Ela's drawback, aside from you might find that it's a race to pick her, is probably that she's not offering much in low-level play. Here, all enemies have a weak spot that allows for an instant kill anyway, so stunning them then moving in for a slow melee kill animation is way less efficient than just one-shotting from range and getting on with your life. Still we're clutching at straws a little here, although her weaker arsenal might make her a weak link against the Protean super-bosses. Gear-wise, don't take stun grenades for obvious reasons. Body Armor is nice as Ela can use her mines while DBNO (down but not out) to stop enemies wailing on her and hopefully buy time for someone to help out. I don't like the drones on Ela, either. She feels like a more aggressive Operator and does better weaving through rooms to find powerful enemies as someone else tags them, stunning and killing mere moments after they're highlighted to prevent them from slinking off and causing problems later. A definite house favourite.

Pulse

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Unlocked:Progression Milestone 1
Role:Support
Tags:Scanner, Recon
Unique Equipment:Cardiac Sensor (heartbeat sensor)
Key Perk(s):Passive Sensor (level 7), Cardio Enhancement (level 10)
Pulse is one of those Operators who seems pretty underwhelming, until you actually see his kit in action. True to his name, his heartbeat scanner can find other Operators and — better yet — Nests (wait, those things have hearts?!) at long range, and being able to find the alerted Nests that are spewing out enemies is an immensely powerful tool that can save runs. Even better, that becomes a passive ability at level 7 (albeit at a much shorter range than with the scanner active) and since the sensor is always available, this frees up ability resupply caches for your allies while you still get to bring something great. It's a win/win, honestly. The downside is that you don't bring much in the way of offensive pressure, and his arsenal isn't much to write home about to help cover that weakness, either. Honestly, though, having seen so many missions go south due to Nests we couldn't find before things got out of control, I think the trade-off might be worth it on the right team.

This more passive role makes him a decent candidate for bringing some of the non-smoke explosives to up his damage a little, such as mines for Sabotage missions, or his usefulness with things like Field Walls in case you're scared of getting swarmed by Tormentors. Either that, or you could opt for the detection grenades to grant him the ability to scan everything, which is fantastic support, especially if your team already has one or two more offensive Operators. I was absolutely guilty of sleeping on how good this guy is, but after seeing him ping a few Nests the moment a howl went off, it was clear he was gonna be a solid pick, especially on teams who are finding they're losing a lot of runs to alerts and need a way to turn the tide quickly.

Alibi

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Unlocked:Progression Milestone 1
Role:Disruption/Support
Tags:Lure, Recon
Unique Equipment:Prisma (holographic decoys)
Key Perk(s):Prisma Recharge (level 10)
Alibi is another Operator who must surely be at or close to the top of the tier list, as her decoy ability is one of the few that is extremely strong right from level 1. Unlike a lot of others, we've only highlighted a single upgrade here, as she simply doesn't even need a lot of the others (bar the usual stat boosts and the weapon unlocks... her starting gun is abysmal). Extra decoys is nice, but you can just pick them up again once you've cleared out the enemies that are mindlessly wailing on them anyway so it's not that big of a deal, unless you like leaving them behind to exfiltrate without even dealing with the horde. Still, that top-level upgrade is not to be sniffed at, making it so decoys recharge over time and meaning you can afford to be a little more wasteful with them and likely still have some in your pocket for the next encounter. You can even deploy them via drones later on, although I'm not sure how useful this actually is. You see, the drawback here is a pretty big one, as enemies that attack the decoy are also likely to howl and cause alerts, which can continue to happen if you leave decoys behind and enemies keep going for them. Leave them in your wake as an exit strategy, sure, but doing it mid-mission can be really risky.

Since the upgraded decoy auto-scans enemies, there's no real need to pack tracking gear, and seeing how powerful an enemy magnet the holograms are, Alibi isn't all that reliant on defensive gear either as most fools will be bunched up, swinging at nothing. She pairs especially well with the likes of Smoke and Gridlock for this very reason, both of whom can place area hazards around the decoy in order to damage as well as distract. There's an argument to be made for stun grenades (or even the paralysis ones) since so many enemies can end up grouped around your decoys, and an Explosive Harness will let you carry twice as many for double the fun. That enemy density can make smokes a little dangerous to use in the same way (at least aggressively), as you can't be sure an enemy or two won't slip out of the cloud and manage to tag you while you're fishing for takedowns, so fully immobilising them may be better in this specific instance. Alternatively, she's one of the better users of Arc Mines, since enemies will naturally be gathered around the decoy a lot of the time, so you can spread a lot of damage between them with these nifty little toys.

Finka

rainbow six extraction

Unlocked:Progression Milestone 1
Role:Healer
Tags:Team Boost, Range Revive
Unique Equipment:Adrenal Surge (group heal/revive)
Key Perk(s):Resilient Revival (level 5), Regenerative Boost (level 7), Premium Boost (level 10)
Here is another Operator who seems sort of bad out of the gates, but who can absolutely turn the tide in the right circumstances. Finka's main ability sends out a brief temporary group heal that also buffs allies, although that bonus health falls off way faster than regular over-heals. As with Doc, that little health bump isn't the point and again, this ability can get downed allies up at range, and — in arguably one of the only aspect she outperforms Doc, in the right terrible situation — can revive multiple allies at once. The weakness of this ability is Doc all over again, as if nobody needs picking up, those momentary health boosts and minor buffs are way weaker than what other characters bring to the table.

Because she makes such a good clutch run saviour, I'd be inclined to build Finka for survivability. Body Armor is nice (unless you've got Rook along for the ride, who can bring enough for the whole class), and since Finka likes to be the last one up in case you need a double revive, drones aren't a bad shout so she can scout from a distance and still keep an eye on the action from a distance in case her skills are needed. This is also the first time we've seen Resilient Revival, a perk that we've highlighted on each of the few Operators who gets it as it can be a literal lifesaver. This alters your DBNO state to make it so kills while down increase your downed HP, automatically getting you back up (much like Borderlands' Fight For Your Life mechanic) if you manage to refill it. Her default sidearm is pretty punchy, which helps pull this off, and smart co-op buddies might even put a few body shots into nearby enemies to further assist.

Hibana

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Unlocked:Progression Milestone 1
Role:Offence
Tags:Breach, Sticky Charges
Unique Equipment:X-Kairos (remote explosives launcher)
Key Perk(s):Ammo Refill (level 10)
In terms of Operators who bring the boom, Hibana is certainly among the more destructive forces in Extraction (sorry, Sledge... your hammer is lovely, mate). X-Kairos is effectively a shotgun that fires remote mines, spraying a handful at the target for you to detonate by later pressing RB again. This is amazing for objectives like Decontamination to prime the trickier corrupted Nests with explosive, and the burst damage isn't half bad, either, if you're just bringing her along to huck a load of bombs at an Apex, should one show up. Her weapons are okay, but I'm not a fan of having a micro SMG as a sidearm (that's her default) and would prefer some precision, which doesn't come until level 6, frustratingly. Four levels later, though, you also get a very nice prize for capping Hibana out — rather than being finite, explosive ammo recharges over time once you ding level 10, which is rather nice and saves you worrying about wastage too much.

If there's a negative to be found here, it's that X-Kairos is going to be overkill on most enemies, and obviously it's extremely noisy. That can also be twisted into a positive, though, especially once you have regenerating reserves — lob a bunch of belated boom in the back wall of a hostile-rich room from a safe distance, then set it off to make the entire area converge on the disturbance while you dance around them to sneak to the next objective or exfiltration point. Gear recommendations for Hibana are tricky as it'll likely come down to covering what the team doesn't have, although I don't hate her on drone. It's an opportunity to support the squad and let her explosive ammo come back at the same time, so she can melt more things in the next encounter. For fear of sounding like a stuck record, more smokes via Explosive Harness can be nice to guarantee you'll be able to set up distractions (or mass explosions that take out loads of enemies at once), but there's nothing else that really stands out as being a go-to pick for Hibana.

Lion

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Unlocked:Progression Milestone 1
Role:Support
Tags:Motion Sensor, Area Recon
Unique Equipment:EE-One-D Drone (motion scanner)
Key Perk(s):Target Lock (level 10)
So many of the other Operators I thought were awful have grown on me as I've levelled them and used them more, but poor Lion hasn't been so lucky. His motion tracker simply isn't as useful as almost any other piece of unique Operator kit in the game, especially since the game defaults to displaying nearby audio as on-screen icons so everyone already knows when something is moving nearby anyway. It does get a little better as you level up and the range increases, but having to take him all the way to max level to have the device actually scan enemies feels like a bit of a joke. So yeah, Lion's downside is that his ability is sort of bad.

There's a silver lining, though, as his arsenal is pretty solid. He starts with a Magnum as his sidearm, which is lovely (if noisy), and has access to most weapon types once you level him up a bit. He's also the first Operator to get a long-range single-shot rifle with a 3x scope, so if you like playing as the sniper guy, welcome to your new main. Sorry he's a bit rubbish. Given his stronger-than-average gun loadout, you'll want to pick gear that complements your weapon of choice. If you're sitting back to snipe, load up on smokes and get a drone on the go. If the shotty is more your speed, slap on some Body Armor and maybe grab some glue grenades? You're using a terrible Operator, so you might as well bring along some terrible toys as well, right? That's probably a little harsh, and he's a pretty solid pick in the early game when your tech level is still low and the other ranged scanning options are still out of reach. In the right hands, Lion will obviously perform well, but he's definitely propping up the tier list in Extraction from the second you unlock the XR drone — a universal tool that anyone can use to make Lion kinda obsolete.

Sledge

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Unlocked:Progression Milestone 1
Role:Offence/Support
Tags:Melee, Stun, Breach
Unique Equipment:Tactical Hammer (a big hammer)
Key Perk(s):Harder and Faster (level 7), Smasher Smackdown (level 10)
If your solution to every problem is to run at it with a massive hammer, meet your new best friend. Sledge is Extraction's only melee-oriented Operator, and while it might surprise you to see 'Support' up there, it's not wrong. Breakable walls in Extraction, as in Siege, only really get chipped and punctured a bit under normal weapon fire or melee damage — I've had moments where I've thrown everything I had at a half-busted wall just to try and forge and escape route from the legion on my tail, and it has never ended well. Unless, that is, I've been using Sledge. As good as it is for stunning enemies (which is actually very good indeed), Sledge's hammer can also carve new paths through maps to let you reach objectives or bypass enemies that you otherwise may have had to deal with. Also, should enemies stray too close to you, you have a brilliant answer to that. The answer is a really big hammer.

Sledge is a weird case in that his unique ability is both a strength and a weakness. All his buddies turned up with cutting edge tracking tech, explosive turrets, and toxic grenades, and your boy rocked up with a massive hammer. It's a big dick energy play, no doubt, and it makes for an immensely satisfying — and immensely dangerous — play style. Aside from smokes (everyone's best friend), I'd argue that Sledge benefits more from allies than from equipment. A top-level Vigil (more on him in a sec) can confer his speed and cloaking tech to nearby allies, and Sledge's hammer strikes, when upgraded, can put basically all enemies bar the Apex in either a stunned or an already-dead-from-blunt-force-trauma state... you probably see where I'm going with this. Sneak, bonk, stab, profit. On more or less anything. It's such a fun combo, and there's no way the two sit next to one another in the Operator menu by fluke. Oh yeah, he has other weapons, too. Starts with a shotgun, but gets a beast of an AR at level 6, so it doesn't always have to be hammer time. It probably will be, though. It's much more fun that way.

Vigil

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Unlocked:Progression Milestone 1
Role:Support
Tags:Cloak, Recon
Unique Equipment:ERC-8 Disruptor (personal stealth unit)
Key Perk(s):Gear Up (level 5), Local Disruption (level 10)
Here's that sneaky boy, and I struggled to decide on a role for Vigil. Up until max level, his cloaking is almost entirely a selfish ability — most others do something to aid the team or interfere with enemies, but his simply lets him slink away undetected. Likely as his allies are getting pulled to pieces by aliens with one less target to worry about, as he skips away to the extraction point. Once you cap out, though, Vigil can amplify the abilities of some of the other Operators so well that while I don't think he's a great pick a lot of the time (except maybe for super scaredy-cat solo play), the right combos (see: Sledge above) can make incredible use of team cloaking. We're also seeing our first mention of Gear Up, another passive that a few Operators get. Having one more REACT Tech item may not sound like much, but the description undersells the perk a little — you also get one more than usual every time you grab a REACT supply box in the field. That's an extra smoke (or whatever else you accidentally picked) out of the gates, and another bonus one every time you loot a crate... honestly, it's pretty massive, especially in a coordinated team that will let you grab most of those crates as a designated smoker.

Vigil's downside is that his active ability is... well, extremely passive. More often than not, ERC-8 gets popped as an eject button to escape a bad situation, which takes us back to the conversation about reactive and proactive gear. This is both, sure, but the proactive use can have so much more of an impact on a mission than the reactive use, which is just a backup plan, and a really selfish one at that unless you're at level 10 and can take your team with you. In terms of weapons, Vigil gets a beast of a shotgun at level 3, and a decent single-shot rifle later, but only gets a pair of spray-and-pray full-auto pistols in reserve, so I don't really rate him for missions that involve carrying stuff. Actually, he might not be a bad pick for clearing Sprawl while you're all carrying in a Shutdown mission, but I'd personally rather always have that precision for dealing with weak points. Gear? Vigil shouldn't need protection at higher levels as he can nope out of the enemy's world on a pretty short cooldown. As above, what you need to bring on Vigil is hugely dependent on who you are supporting, so just look at team composition and try to find a few tools that might work well. And please, stop running away and leaving us to die, you coward.

IQ

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Unlocked:Progression Milestone 5
Role:Support
Tags:Scanner, Recon
Unique Equipment:Red Mk IV Spectre (detects certain objects through walls)
Key Perk(s):Red Mk IV Biomodule (level 2), High Frequency (level 7), Full Spectrum (level 10)
Initially, I thought IQ was the worst Operator in the game. Spotting REACT supplies through walls is such a weak ability, but of course I should have looked a little closer. As IQ levels up, so too does her scanner, and by max level, she can use it to pinpoint a lot of different enemy types, even when they're cloaked. That's rare within abilities and usually tied to equipment, hence why she only has a selection of enemies that it works on, I suppose. The very first upgrade is actually pretty useful for those trying to speedrun Operatives through the ranks, given that it highlights many objective types through walls and can save an age of searching for them. Even when maxed, I still don't think this is an especially powerful ability (even if it is the only one that will let you find a cloaked Apex), and situational benefits aside, she feels like a poor man's Pulse in Extraction.

IQ's weapons make up for this somewhat, with basically all bases covered with pretty good options. Not the sidearm, though... you just get that one pistol, so get used to it. I feel like IQ could be one that comes into her own in the endgame content like Maelstrom Protocol, where supplies are that much rarer and more valuable and powerful enemies more likely to show up, although I'm still not too inclined to pick her to find out when I have a selection of max level friends with great abilities to help carry me through that hot mess. If you were waiting for the negative, there it is — I didn't rate her then, and I don't really rate her now. If I'm wrong, please let me know. I need that incentive to get my last few characters (IQ included, unsurprisingly) up to level 10...

Jäger

rainbow six extraction

Unlocked:Progression Milestone 5
Role:Offence
Tags:Sentry, Area Control
Unique Equipment:Active Defense (automated explosive turrets)
Key Perk(s):Additional ADS (level 2), High Explosive (level 7), Charged Up (level 10)
Now we're talking. Jäger's auto-turrets could do with better visibility as to what they will actually see and/or target, but they're immensely useful in a lot of mission types even if they do sometimes just decide to daydream instead of shooting stuff. This is one of the few Operators that requires micromanagement to play well, especially at lower levels when reserves are low. Not only is placement important, but ADS turrets will also self-destruct if they run out of ammo — rip them off the wall or floor you attached them to before that time and they'll continue to be reusable as ammo regenerates over time, so you can actually get a lot of bang for your buck so long as you're paying attention to your automated friends. This is naturally a downside in and of itself, as few other Operators require this level of micromanaging in order to achieve maximum uptime on abilities, but if you can get that down, Jäger is almost certainly one of the stronger general-purpose Operators in Extraction.

The worst part is that the turret is non-discriminatory, so will readily waste ammo on enemies you could easily one-tap like Grunts — it would be nice if it linked to the tag system and would prioritise your target, as that would get around those awkward situations where your turrets waste all their ammo on Sludges while you chip away at a boss enemy on your lonesome. ADS turrets can target foes through smoke, so guess what we recommend you stick in your explosives slot... again, combine with an Explosive Harness for maximum smokage, or bring whatever you'd rather. There's nothing else in there that really complements Jäger's kit, so it just comes down to whatever you or your team feel you need. Not a lot doing on the weapons front here, either. Just the one sidearm, and while his starting shotgun is decent, the mid-tier options aren't all that great, so you'll probably want to get him all the way up to level 9 to unlock his most versatile gun, the 552 Commando.

Rook

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Unlocked:Progression Milestone 5
Role:Support
Tags:Team Armor
Unique Equipment:Armor Pack (deployable armour station)
Key Perk(s):Armored Up (level 2), Gear Up (level 5)
Rook is hands-down the easiest Operator to play in Extraction. You load in, you drop your Armor Pack and let your team have at it, then you shouldn't have to worry about pressing RB again for the rest of the mission. It's a pretty strong passive that comes online immediately and effectively gives your team two lots of equipment rather than one as they don't need to bring their own armour — be sure to let your squad know you've picked Rook when setting up an Incursion, and that they should bring something else in that slot, just in case they're not aware or don't notice the pick. His first level-up perk is great, giving Rook his own armour as well (meaning a fully armoured squad) and also granting the same benefits to VIPs in Rescue objectives (somehow) to give them a little more survivability in case things take a dodgy turn. He also gets Gear Up for extra explosives (read: more smokes), which helps make an otherwise very passive Operator a bit more viable. Later unlocks are okay, but they're not really worth chasing — a slight increase in damage reduction from armour is nice, mind. His top-level perk falls into drawback territory for me, as it only activates when Rook himself is revived, giving him slightly better Body Armor when he is picked up, which feels a little weak compared to most other level 10 perks. It'd be better (and make more sense) if this worked the other way round, armouring up allies revived by Rook but either way, it's not like you're going to be planning around getting downed just for 10% damage mitigation.

Rook can also feel like he's not contributing much as he has one job and does it on ingress — while you can reapply armour after someone is downed, you're typically going to be better off trying to avoid that and letting someone with a more powerful ability take the recharge kits instead. Doc is a great example, as he can keep you topped up to avoid having to re-armour buddies. It should go without saying, but don't take the Body Armor once you're at least level 2. That slot is free for whatever else you'd like to bring along. Ammo Satchel feels right thematically (even if you can't share) and is good for endgame content where supplies are more limited, or you can make use of the fact that he doesn't have much else to do other than shoot stuff to put him on drone duty. As for weapons, Rook's starting SMG feels a little limp for a big guy, but he gets (I think) the most options overall with five primaries and two secondaries. For me, the V308 battle rifle/Magnum combo is the way to go, although you will have to make do with the others before you unlock the V308 at level 9 and might find something else you like along the way... the single-shot rifle is always fun with a decent scope, especially for hitting trickier weak points like the back of a Rooter's head or a Lurker's 'face' as its protective plates start to close.

Fuze

rainbow six extraction

Unlocked:Progression Milestone 10
Role:Offence
Tags:Bomber, Trap
Unique Equipment:Cluster Charge (breaching explosives)
Key Perk(s):Gear Up (level 5), Amped Up! (level 7), Cluster Refill (level 10)
There's Gear Up again, so Fuze is off to a fantastic start, even if his active ability is extremely situational. Cluster Charges can only be placed on and fired through breakable walls and doors, and while there are plenty of those in every map, enemies might take a little convincing to group up in the right spot for when you make everything explode. Alibi is therefore a perfect partner for Fuze, dropping decoys in front of breakable surfaces — ideally even ones you've already trapped — to maximise the effectiveness of the limited charges. You can use them a little more liberally once you max out Fuze's level, mind, as he's another who gets regenerating supplies at level 10. In theory he seems great for objectives like Sabotage, but since you can only place one charge at a time, that's not really the case. You can only get one trap off without leaving the objective room (risky business) and placing another on the other side of a wall, then go back in and hope there are some enemies nearby to make your little trip worthwhile.

That the drawback to Fuze, really — Cluster Charges are a bit fiddly to use, even if they are extremely powerful when you manage to get the drop on a big enemy. Not many things are going to survive seven bombs hitting for 180 damage each, though you do have to work for that damage. Weapon-wise, I don't think Fuze needs much beyond his default kit, to be honest. That LMG feels better than any of the other options for my money, although there's a slightly more powerful handgun at level 3 if you don't mind sacrificing clip size for damage. Good ol' smokes will give you a way to get into a dangerous area to quickly set your trap, and if you're playing solo, you'll likely want the XR drone so you can scout ahead and scan enemies to work out where the best Cluster Charge opportunities are. If you want to go more aggressive, Fuze is another rare instance where stun or paralysis grenades can outclass smokes — so long as you're not worried about alerts, kite a bunch of enemies to where you've placed your charge, immobilise them with stun/para, then press the Bang Button to delete them. Lots of fun.

Smoke

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Unlocked:Progression Milestone 10
Role:Offence/Disruption
Tags:Toxic Gas, Area Denial
Unique Equipment:Remote Gas Grenades (generate toxic clouds)
Key Perk(s):Resilient Revival (level 5), Toxicity (level 7), Concentrated Formula (level 10)
I want to like Smoke more than I do, but I can't shake the feeling that his ability isn't actually very good, at least on its own. There's no doubt it pairs well with some of the others, notably Gridlock's slowing spikes to ensure the aliens drink in the gas for the full duration, but it's always disheartening to see a regular Grunt casually wander out of the cloud — sure, it's a bit weaker now, but those things go down with one to the head anyway so big deal. In better news, Resilient Revival is back and still brilliant, and does actually pair quite well with Smoke's gas. Chuck a few gas grenades out while you're down (you can stack them to have several going off at once) and you should be able to weaken or even kill anything that is trying to finish you off in order to get the self-revive off... he even gets a micro-SMG in the secondary slot, which can be beastly in dire situations such as this. The Toxicity perk at level 7 is where the gas gets as close to good as it's going to get, upping the damage (although 85 is still pretty pathetic) and scanning enemies caught in the cloud. I was really hoping you could stick his gas grenades to a drone, but sadly, they just bounce off.

For his other weapons, I haven't even touched them — there are two SMGs and a half-decent shotgun, but the default AR works best for me as it's better for longer distances. As mentioned, there's also the option of the mini automatic pistol in the secondary slot, but as I've said, I don't like how imprecise those feel when they're your only option during Shutdown and Rescue missions. Smoke and smokes go hand in hand, as you can get more mileage out of your gas by popping the two in the same place and gassing enemies while they shuffle around in the cloud. Once again, I don't hate stuns or even paralysis grenades on Smoke as they do the same job without the risk of enemies wising up and just walking out of the smoke. In the other slot, Revive Kit feels like a waste once you've unlocked Resilient Revival, and Body Armor also doesn't feel essential when you're one of the few Operators capable of picking themselves up. The stim isn't especially great and the Ammo Pack is more or less redundant outside of endgame missions, so again, it's likely a toss-up between more explosives and the drone, which he runs pretty well as his ability isn't useful outside of combat anyway.

Tachanka

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Unlocked:Progression Milestone 10
Role:Offence/Support
Tags:Turret, Area Control
Unique Equipment:Mounted LMG (portable alien shredder)
Key Perk(s):LMG Ammo (level 2), LMG Capacity (level 10)
If you're finding that all of Extraction's guns are a little on the small side, Tachanka has a little something — well, a big something — that should please you. His unique ability is to deploy a mounted heavy machine gun that anyone on the team can use, which is not only really strong but a great way to conserve ammo. If an ally runs dry, pop the LMG and let them use that for a while... simple. Like most abilities, this starts out a little weak, mainly due to its meagre ammo supplies. Fortunately, this gets rectified as soon as you ding level 2 and get 400 rounds in the thing, which should be enough to get some decent mileage out of it. Later perks up damage slightly and speed up deployment time, but that level 10 one is the winner, letting you carry and deploy a second mounted gun for when you really want to activate Overkill Mode. Having these in your back pocket allows allies to be a little more gung-ho with ammo as they can always hop on your LMG if they run out, although this will involve constantly setting it up and packing it up, so it's not ideal.

That's one negative thing about Tachanka's portable gun emplacement (not-significant setup and teardown times), but another is that there honestly aren't all that many good places to drop it. Area control objectives like Sabotage and Serial Scan would seem like a perfect time to drop the gun and go nuts, but with enemies approaching from all angles, there's rarely a spot to stick it down safely and set up a proper killzone without leaving blind spots from which enemies can flank you. It's good when you've got skilled players in your group who are on the ball with callouts to prevent you from getting blindsided, and it's a decent idea to set one up ahead of a risky area so that if you need to retreat, the first person back can lay down suppressing fire to cover the others as they flee. As for main weapons, his starting shotgun isn't the best, nor is the SMG that comes at level 3, so it's not until you grind to level 9 that he gets a more versatile weapon in the AK-12 AR. Tachanka is one of the few Operators who might want to give the Field Wall a go — the mounted gun is static anyway, and having a one-way barrier that you can shoot through but which blocks incoming projectiles is a pretty smart play, plus it can block angles that the frontal upper shield of the turret cannot. Otherwise, it's smokes and drone/Body Armor as usual. Standard.

Capitão

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Unlocked:Progression Milestone 17
Role:Offence/Support
Tags:Smokescreen, Area Denial
Unique Equipment:TAC Mk0 Crossbow (silent smoke or venom bolts)
Key Perk(s):Resilient Revival (level 5), Concentrated Compounds (level 7), Deeper Mags (level 10)
Given how strong smoke grenades are, an Operator with an additional way to lay down smokescreens was always going to be good. Capitão can do more than that, too, although the venom bolts really don't seem to do much damage — a later ability does improve this but I've not quite reached it yet so can't say by how much. Still, a little extra passive damage over time on an Apex or Protean will never hurt, and in truth, venom bolts are just a nice little bonus on top of the smoke ones, really. I see Capitão as one of the best designated smoke-setters in the game, as even Operators with Gear Up would need to grab five REACT Tech crates to just edge out a max-level Capitão doing the same by a single use, and this guy gets a more precise way to stick smoke down-range as well. Very useful. He also gets Resilient Revival at level 5, so you can afford to play a little more aggressively once your silent crossbow is out of bolts.

There's your drawback right there, too... he only ever has a handful of these bolts on hand, with one type being a utility tool (that does something all characters can do) and the other seemingly not packing that much of a punch, although applying venom to one key target multiple times will certainly make a decent dent. Capitão's starting rifle is pretty good, but I unlocked the M249 at level 3 and never looked back — it does mean falling back on your sidearm when you want to go quiet, but I honestly haven't found that going loud makes too much of a difference so long as your team is on the ball with wasting suspicious enemies. In terms of kit, as I say, I'd play Capitão as the team's smoker (so smokes and holster for your loadout), freeing up others to take different gear types that might help on the mission, whether that's mines for a defensive objective, scanning tools (assuming you've not unlocked the XR drone yet), or something more specific to their character like some other bits we've mentioned here.

Gridlock

rainbow six extraction

Unlocked:Progression Milestone 17
Role:Support
Tags:Area Control, Trap
Unique Equipment:Trax Stingers (deployable caltrops)
Key Perk(s):Trax Capacity (level 2), Gear Up (level 5), Trax Web (level 7), Explosive Trax (level 10)
Just like with Sledge, I really enjoy the fact that while pretty much everyone else turns up with fancy gadgets, Gridlock sticks to a tried and true strategy that has been employed for centuries — throw sharp stuff on the floor to mess with people. Her Trax Stingers are a little more elaborate than a bag of caltrops, mind, with a central unit that is thrown out to then spit out a bunch of individual spiked plates around it. It's very cool. As well as doing decent damage once upgraded, they cover a wide area, significantly slow enemies, and you get up to five uses. Oh, and the top tier perk makes them explode once they've served their purpose, piling on even more damage. These things are fantastic, both for their intended purpose (place away from an objective to prevent enemies from reaching you as you defend before you move on) and as a panic button when things kick off. Operators can't set these things off, so a crowded room can be made a little less crowded by filling it with exploding spiky things. Combine this potent ability with the fact that she gets Gear Up at level 5 as well, and you'll probably see why Gridlock is something of a favourite of ours.

It doesn't hurt that I don't think she has a bad weapon in her arsenal, although I'm always going to pick the LMG when given a choice and the M249 SAW is just beastly. She's also the only Operator with access to the Super Shorty sawn-off shotgun in the sidearm slot, and while I usually prefer the precision of a pistol, I've also enjoyed packing this little monster as a 'get off me' button. Gridlock doesn't have much in the way of downsides, honestly, except for the fact that the damage output of the spikes is pretty poor until upgraded, and random enemy behaviour means you can get unlucky and trap an area that they never go near. But you can fix that... get an Alibi in the group, drop Trax near a group of enemies, pop a decoy on the opposite side, alert the pack, then just sit back and watch the fireworks. If you really want to go to town, have a third squadmate pick up someone like Fuze or Smoke to make that trap even more deadly. Sometimes the spikes can feel like they're not pulling their weight when used on their own (again, particularly pre-level 10), but combos like this are incredibly effective and lots of fun. Smokes are a good pick here, as they'll make enemies wander around confused and they're bound to hit more spikes that way, but if you're going for that full-team elaborate deathtrap, why not make it a bit more death-y instead? Claymores and Arc Mines should do the trick (and you'll get even more than usual thanks to Gear Up), or go for the big brain play and use Impact Grenades to knock enemies back off the spikes so they have to step on them again to get at you. Less damage, but hey, it's pretty funny. Gridlock's definitely a personal favourite, and something of a go-to when there's not an objective on the menu that needs a more delicate touch.

Nomad

rainbow six extraction

Unlocked:Progression Milestone 17
Role:Disruption/Offence (eventually)
Tags:Shockwave, Knockback
Unique Equipment:Airjab Launcher (concussion mine launcher)
Key Perk(s):Vaporization (level 7), Extra Airjab II (level 10)
Every Operator gets better as they level up, naturally, but few enjoy quite the jump up the rankings that Nomad gets. Part of that comes from the fact that she's basically a joke out of the gates, which means she soars from the bottom of the tier list to somewhere near the top. This is due to how Airjab changes at level 7. Before then, it's effectively just a knockback mine which is useful only in some very specific situations, such as bumping a Specimen capture target back onto the plate if they wander off it before you can fire the trap, or giving enemies another taste of Gridlock's spikes after they break free. It does clear Sprawl too, but, like, so does everything else. When you unlock Vaporization at level 7, though, she becomes one of the single strongest Operators in the game. Instead of just knocking enemies away, Airjab mines now instantly obliterate pretty much every enemy type in the game bar a handful of the strongest ones, which is significantly better. This lets you remove Breachers without them going boom (always nice to save an alert), waste Sludges without them dividing, one-tap Rooters without having to get behind them, or easily clear a pack of Grunts or Spikers at once. Best to use it aggressively if you're going for that last one — a placed mine will likely only catch the first enemy courteous enough to wander into range, while manually dumping the mine in the middle of a pack will nuke the lot, the same way you get the best bang out of Ela's mines. Sadly, these ones do not regenerate... that might have been a bit too strong.

Nomad also gets a rather strong weapon rack, with two solid ARs at the start, an SMG with decent range at mid-game, then a silenced shotgun at level 9. Her default secondary weapon is an amazing scoped Magnum too, so she's at least got some decent stuff to make playing her entertaining until you reach 7 and the real fun begins. If we're talking drawbacks, aside from the fact that Nomad is such a late bloomer, you could also see the Airjab mine's selective list of murder subjects as something to criticise — for the most part, it only works on enemies that you already have a way of killing in a single blow so it could be seen as overkill, as it's still the same old pathetic little push effect when used on anything too big for it to remove from existence. If you do want to use her in a more controlling way before level 7, you can combine Airjabs with Impact Grenades to have even more ways to jostle enemies and bump them into hazards set by your allies. It certainly doesn't feel optimal, but it's a laugh, and the grind to level 7 likely won't offer too many of those. Otherwise, you're probably looking at that same loadout we keep falling back on when there isn't a particular piece of gear that gels with an Operator's ability — smokes (unless someone else is filling that role), and either drone or armour is a combo that will never do you wrong. Unless Rook is around. He gets sad when you pick Body Armor while he's on duty. Please don't make Rook sad.


Well, that's it! Hopefully you now have a better insight into what this selection of Team Rainbow folks can do, and how best to use and combine their unique abilities. If you've got any advice or tips of your own, any more questions, or if you found this helpful, drop by the comments and share your thoughts with the rest of us!
Luke Albigés
Written by Luke Albigés
Luke runs the TA news team, contributing where he can primarily with reviews and other long-form features — crafts he has honed across two decades of print and online gaming media experience, having worked with the likes of gamesTM, Eurogamer, Play, Retro Gamer, Edge, and many more. He loves all things Monster Hunter, enjoys a good D&D session, and has played way too much Destiny.