It wasn’t that long ago.
Kid’s parties, high school sleepovers, adults getting drunk because it was Saturday; all these were once strung through by rocking with your friends in games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero. And why not. The fun of pretending to rock out with your friends to your favorite head banging tunes. Feeling that brief moment where you could let it all out and only a living room full of your friends would be the wiser. Then for a time, it all went dormant. If you look in your closet, you might find relics of the good times. Plastic guitars and usb microphones might be nestled in your garage, buried in boxes marked “Xmas ornaments”. But there’s hope for them… Rock Band 4 is coming.
In 2015, the music gaming genre is ready for its comeback tour. Fresh out of celebrity rehab and ready to take the stage again, Rock Band 4 is more an evolution than a sequel. We were invited to check out the game first hand on Harmonix’s outdoor stage at E3 and speak with PR Lead, Nick Chester about the game’s upcoming features.
The first thing we noticed is the direction of the visuals Harmonix decided on for the game. Rather than follow the competition by completely changing their art style; the developer upgraded the trademark style of Rock Band by having it go full 1080p 60FPS. What that means for players is a much smoother gameplay with little to no screen lag. Indeed, when you suck at this game; this time it’s on us.
A new Rock Band for a new age means the shredding has to be turned up to 11. This time around guitarists will help the band really stand out in the new “Freestyle Guitar Solo“. During a song’s guitar solo, players will be able to compose their own face melting riffs using any combination of the buttons they can come up with. The better it sounds the more points the band scores overall. Rock Band is also helping out the vocalists who like to sing but sound like a cartoon chicken being rung by the neck. Not only does the USB microphone have a better more actual microphone feel, but the vocal range it can convey is much broader than before. The game will also help singers by letting you set your song to be a mix of your own vocal with one from the actual track. Harmonix managed to tweak this very well, to the point where you can distinguish yourself from the song while not completely butchering it. Rock Band 4 will also have a new story mode so players can bring their bands back together and conquer the world.
If you still have your old instruments intact, dust them off because Rock Band 4 will support all previously released hardware. Though if you want to buy the new gear, it’s got a few upgrades of its own from Mad Catz. The guitar now has a gyroscope for better reading of your movements. Jumping off things never worked better (we do not endorse jumping off things).
Rock Band 4 will utilize the sharing features of the newer systems, but those plans aren’t ready to be fully revealed quite yet. Though the developer is looking forward to seeing what the players can come up with once the game is released.
Now let’s talk about what really matters man… the music. Since the game’s last release in 2010, the music industry has added a few bands and Harmonix knows you kids want your Imagine Dragons and what not. So far confirmed for the game is
Avenged Sevenfold – “Hail to the King”
Benjamin Booker – “Violent Shiver” *
Elvis Presley – “Suspicious Minds” *
Fleetwood Mac – “You Make Loving Fun”
Jack White – “Lazaretto”
The Killers – “Somebody Told Me”
Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk” *
Queens of the Stone Age – “My God Is The Sun” *
Scandal – “The Warrior” *
Spin Doctors – “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong”
The Who – “The Seeker”
All that DLC you previously purchased isn’t going to waste either. Rock Band 4 will support all your previous purchases. There are a few notes to take on this though. For one, if your last Rock Band game was on Xbox 360 you’re better off getting the Xbox One version. Previous DLC won’t transfer cross platform. As Harmonix put it, playing purchases from one platform to the other is like “putting an Xbox disc in a PlayStation” it just doesn’t work that way. The good news is you will not need to purchase any additional license to transfer your previous DLC purchases. As the previous songs are added to the DLC list you’ll simply be able to re-download them for play on the new game.
In our social, lip sync battle, world it feels like this is the right time for a return to music gaming. These games were social before social became something we did on our phones hundreds of miles away from other people. Rock Band is going to bring people back into living rooms while also letting them feel what its like for recording artist who collaborate in booths on different sides of the world, and that is what’s really cool.
One personal note. Harmonix, I need more Rancid. Please have the Blink 182/ Matt Skiba combination record something for you. While you’re at it how about The Descendents and some Minor Threat? Okay, now this is just a list of demands, sorry. What songs does everyone out there want in the game?
Rock Band 4 releases on the PS4 and Xbox One on October 6, 2015. You can pre-order the game or bundle at all game retailers for 30 additional DLC tracks. Find out more on the game’s website here.