Rock Band 4 is coming this year to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. 2010 marked the last numbered release in the series with Rock Band 3, while 2012 saw the release of the downloadable spin-off, Rock Band Blitz, but otherwise the series has remained quiet. Now it's time to bring back the Rock Band fervor.
"After taking some time off, it was really interesting to kind of come back and play the games that we bled and sweat over for years and years and years," Rock Band 4 project manager Daniel Sussman told Eurogamer. "Two things emerged very quickly: One was 'holy motherf***, these games are fun!"
"At the same time we were able to be quite critical of the work that we had done and saw lots of room for improvement. And that was really important to us as well because we are all creative people and it was important for us to be able to sink our teeth into to something that was deserving of the 4 at the end of the title. We didn't just want to rehash Rock Band 3 for new consoles. We felt it was really important for us to evolve the gameplay in a way that would be interesting."
Do you remember the Rock Band heyday? Every party you went to had a huge contingent of Rock Band players and when there was a lull conversation, "Let's play Rock Band!" was the battlecry. Surely you remember the Rock Band drum set in the corner of your living room, where it stood silent, waiting for you to boot up the game and rock out to Llama by Phish. Perhaps you're just now recalling your crazy stash of Rock Band instruments in the closet. Are your fingers absentmindedly playing Operation Ground and Pound by Dragonforce as you're reading this? Yeah, you got it bad.
Rock Band 4 will have its own brand-new tracklist (you can request new songs here) and Mad Catz is already at work on new instruments. More importantly, Harmonix is working to make sure the old instruments you have in the closet are supported in the new game and all of your Rock Band 3 DLC purchases will be active in Rock Band 4. Are there some catches? Of course there are. For one, old hardware support is still being worked on.
"We're already working closely with Mad Catz, Sony, and Microsoft on solutions for letting you use legacy hardware on new consoles," says the RB4 FAQ. "This is a challenge on both the software side and hardware side, but something we'd love to happen. We'll have more information on this in the coming months."
Instrument-wise, Harmonix is aiming for a broad userbase, so they're only focusing on the classic set: Guitar, Bass, Drums, and Mic. Pro Guitar or Pro Keyboard have been given the old heave-ho; there's no support for either device, though Rock Band 4 will support the Pro mode for Drums.
Finally, old DLC support is only across similar platforms. If you had the Xbox 360 version of Rock Band 3, you'll need the Xbox One version of Rock Band 4 to access all your purchased songs. If you were rocking on PlayStation 3, I hope you have a PlayStation 4 sitting under your TV. Wii owners are simply out in the cold when it comes to DLC, as Rock Band 4 isn't coming to Wii U or PC at this time.
"Due to shifting production priorities and capabilities of the studio, we don't currently have plans to release RB4 on the Wii / Wii U / PC simultaneously with Xbox One and PS4," says the FAQ. "While we genuinely appreciate the support of Wii Rock band users over the years, and the increased interest from PC gamers, the truth is that we had to prioritize opportunities on other platforms with historically larger RB audiences."
Despite those issues, if you were an avid Rock Band player who happened to stay within the PlayStation or Xbox families, there's a lot to be happy about. You have access to more than 2000 songs from over 500 artists. If you've purchased most of them already, you can jump back into the fray, laying down them hot guitar solos. Working on old instrument support is probably above and beyond for Harmonix, but I'm sure it will net them a ton of goodwill. Activision is reportedly working on a new Guitar Hero for reveal at E3 2015, but Harmonix just threw down the gauntlet with its announcement. Activision has to match them or be left behind.
Regardless, I'm sure there's a ton of people who are really happy about this. I've been to enough parties and conventions to know that people are absolutely jazzed about Rock Band. I'm sure Jaz will be up for reviewing it. Personally, I'll be over here playing Dance Central: Spotlight.