Once a staple in many homes, Harmonix’s Rock Band series is making a return. The studio is promising a back to basics approach to the game when it launches Rock Band 4 for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 later this year.
Following up on the successful Guitar Hero franchise, Rock Band first debuted back in 2007 after Harmonix turned over the Guitar Hero reins to Neversoft, and the last release of the serious showed up almost five years ago with Rock Band 3 in 2010. The game incorporated plastic music instruments including guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard, and allowed players to play and sing along to over 2,000 different songs over the course of the franchise. While various track packs and DLC content continued to be released, the series eventually seemed to just fizzle out.
“None of the games in the genre really delivered a lot of innovation, or maybe the right kind of innovation in the experience during that period. Consumers want something new,” Harmonix co-founder and chief creative officer Alex Rigopulos told Polygon. “We view it as a responsibility to deliver that innovation this time around.”
Hints of a new game in the series came as early as January when the first Rock Band DLC in 21 months was released, followed up by a surprise survey asking gamers what their interest was in a next-gen version of the wanna-be rock band game. Rumours started floating around last week, and Harmonix has officially announced the upcoming Rock Band 4 at GDC.
Harmonix product manager Daniel Sussman indicated that response to the DLC and questionnaire was overwhelming.
The response that we’ve gotten to the DLC, to the questionnaire that we put out a few weeks ago, has been overwhelmingly positive, and to that end, I think that we do have a handle on some of the issues that people have, in respect to things that they care deeply about, in terms of what Rock Band 4 needs to do and also some thoughts about the rise and fall of the band game genre.
So what’s in store for the next-gen version? Not many details about the actual game were revealed, more will be coming at E3, but a few key points were revealed that answer a couple questions are most likely on the minds of many past players.
For starters, any DLC that you own already will carry over – the caveat being you bought it within the same console family. Songs purchased on the Xbox 360 will carry over to the Xbox One, and likewise songs purchased on the PlayStation 3 version will carry over to the PlayStation 4.
“In addition to migrating the existing catalog of songs forward, it’s additionally our intention to be releasing DLC on a rolling basis. Much as we did in the last generation. I can’t be too specific about that yet, but that model really seemed to work for our audience and it’s something we’d like to replicate to the greatest degree possible next time around.”
But what about all those plastic instruments you own, likely gathering dust somewhere in your basement? With the exception of the keyboard peripheral (Harmonix indicated that would not be a playable instrument in Rock Band 4), Harmonix is working hard on ensuring that existing instruments will work with the next-gen consoles. Alex Verry, global public relations and communications for Mad Catz indicated that
“Harmonix are working tirelessly to ensure that gamers can make use of legacy music and DLC that they purchased last time around and so [too], we are doing all we can to try and make last-gen hardware compatible with Rock Band 4.“
You can just imagine the amount of work that will be going into porting all the DLC and last-gen instruments be compatible with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but it’s definitely something that will entice a lot of players to come back to the franchise. Mad Catz is also developing a new drum, guitar, and microphone for the game.
- Band-in-a-Box Bundle, which includes the Rock Band 4 game, a Wireless Fender™ Stratocaster™ Guitar Controller, a Wireless Drum Kit Controller and a Microphone.
- Guitar Bundle, which includes the Rock Band 4 game and a Wireless Fender Stratocaster Guitar Controller.
We’ll find out more at E3, but in the meantime check out this behind the scenes look at Rock Band 4 with Harmonix, grab those dusty instruments and start practicing those fingers again!4