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What We Know about Rock Band 4
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What We Know about Rock Band 4

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First of all, what’s NOT in Rock Band 4? Pro-Guitar and Pro-Bass are gone. As is the Keys instrument entirely. Pro-Drums will still be supported, because “the base instrument is all that’s needed.” I thought you need the cymbal attachments, as well, but what do I know? Harmonies will also still be included (or maybe not). I won’t miss Pro-Guitar and Pro-Bass (that’s what Rocksmith is for), but I’ll shed a tear for the neglected Keys instrument. Also, only currently planned for the PS4 and Xbox One consoles. Sorry, Wii U owners. You could always sign this petition, I guess.

Is this just Rock Band for the new consoles? Yes and no. Rock Band 4 is not “Rock Band 3.5.” In the “Behind the Scenes” video released by Harmonix (see below), project manager Daniel Sussman mentioned diplomatically that MTV Games had more input that Harmonix desired, and that Harmonix worked on things they may not have really felt to be core and/or value-added Rock Band features. Now that Harmonix is independent again, they’re going to focus on exactly what they want to focus on.

But yes, Rock Band 4 will be the Rock Band game for the PS4 and Xbox One. Sussman: “We are calling it Rock Band 4 because it’s deserving the 4 – there’s a lot of innovative stuff that’s built into our design. At the same time we don’t envision a Rock Band 5, 6, 7 or 8. What we would rather do is build on the Rock Band 4 feature set through very deliberate content and title updates that are developed in collaboration and conversation with our community.” He also noted “We can do a lot of things that will sustain Rock Band 4 over five to seven years.”

So don’t expect a Rock Band 5 this console generation… what about specific band versions? Pearl Jam: Rock Band?! Don’t expect special band editions this time around.

So I CAN use my existing instruments? Is that for sure?! Not yet. Harmonix is working with Sony and Microsoft “aggressively” (their words) on getting the legacy peripherals from the PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles to work on the PS4 and Xbox One consoles, respectively. (Sorry Wii U owners.) Because the PS3 used a USB dongle, they have a lower hurdle to jump in terms of a technical aspect. Sussman said “I’m confident that it will work on both sides.” Harmonix realizes this is a big deal for everyone, so they’re “working their asses off” to get it down (also their words).

Are there new instruments? Will there be new functionality?! Mad Catz will manufacture the new instruments for Rock Band 4, and will also publish the game with Harmonix. The instruments have been improved, as would be expected over the long hiatus. One such improvement noted was the tilt functionality will be improved. However, there will be no NEW functionality with the newly manufactured instruments (see color options offered below).


How can I get new instruments? Will my local retailer carry them this time? Not entirely sure on this yet. One of the fears I had with respect to a Rock Band revival would be retailers. When Rock Band (and Guitar Hero) were selling like hotcakes in the late 2000’s, retailers didn’t mind stocking big boxes on store shelves. Now that it has cooled off considerably, retailers may be gun shy to give valuable floor space to big bulky boxes with low profit margins. Polygon is reporting the following: Harmonix will be opening up pre-orders much earlier than most games, partly in an attempt to get a feel for the size of the market. They won’t have to ship as many instruments because so many already exist in the wild. The audience is likely still there, and it’s starved for a good rhythm game. Now the challenge is to fulfill that need without overshooting how much product should be created and shipped.

Is there Kinect integration? No.

OK, but what about my DLC purchases? Existing DLC will be compatible for the PS4 and Xbox One. Though no specifics yet, and there are bound to be exceptions for a handful of songs, they have said that “Content purchased from the store or exported from a disc will transfer over to the new generation of consoles at not addition cost as we make that content available.” The timing of this is still up in the air, so it may not be available at launch, but it will be available eventually. (FYI, the process for cross-generational DLC updating is called “legacy entitlement.”) Sussman estimated that over 95 percent of Rock Band’s library of songs will make it over into Rock Band 4.

Cool. What about if my DLC library is on a Xbox 360, and now I’m on a PS4? So you want to know if all the money you gave to Microsoft will let Sony replace your DLC library on a competitor’s product? What do you think? (Spoiler: No, sorry. Licensing is hard.)

What about RBN DLC? No official comment yet on RBN compatibility, although Sussman commented that “If you bought a Rock Band song, it should be yours in Rock Band 4.” UPDATE: Sussman notes that “RBN songs will be converted after all of the core catalog has been finished.”

Will Rock Band 3 export? There are currently no plans for a Rock Band 3 export, however that could change, depending on consumer demand, so you know what to do, everyone: yell at @RockBand until you get what you want! Basically, the diplomatic answer is that Harmonix is focusing first on the game and the mammoth DLC library, and that exporting Rock Band 3 is much lower on the list of priorities, but that doesn’t mean it 100% will not happen. UPDATE: There is a thread over on the Harmonix forums of community members would like a RB3 export be a higher priority item.

Will Rock Band 4 have Score Duel? Will it have No Fail Mode? Will it have a Career Mode? There have been no specifics released yet about gameplay, but Harmonix is very clear that Rock Band 4 will focus on the three types of players passionate about Rock Band: The “passionate minority” chasing high scores and precise playing, the party experience players who care less for the “game” aspect, and the players focused on narrative progression of a virtual rock star.

How much? And when can I get it? No specific details yet on price or release date (I’ve seen “summer” however, but I’m assuming it’ll be fall), but the plan is simultaneous release dates for both consoles. A few bundles have been announced:

  • The 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.
  • The Guitar Bundle, which includes the Rock Band 4 game and a Wireless Fender Stratocaster Guitar Controller.
  • A special Wireless Stratocaster Guitar Controller, featuring custom artwork of “Gabe” from the Penny Arcade webcomic. This limited-edition collectible will only be available via on-site pre-orders at the Harmonix booth during PAX East.

What new features are included? Nothing announced yet, but one thing to note is that now that the current generation consoles are very heavily internet-connected, it will be leveraged as a more significant aspect of the game than in the past. Since Harmonix is pushing the idea that Rock Band 4 will establish Rock Band as a platform that lasts for years rather than a first step in another sequence of annual releases and “track packs,” expect not only song DLC, but also potential DLC impacting gameplay modes, venues, clothing, etc. (Hell, they said there’s always the potential to put Keys back in if the community demands it.)

Will we FINALLY have in-game guitar straps? Maybe in Rock Band 5, but not this time around.

What about Stage Kit? And MUSE? Oh, how I missed you Rock Band community. Never change.

If there’s anything that we missed, PLEASE let us know and we’ll add it!

22 Responses to “What We Know about Rock Band 4”

  • Jake says:

    …and we’re back baby!!!

  • Alexander says:

    I really hope the MIDI adapter will still work or they’re making a new one or I won’t be able to drum in 4…and drumming is all I do in Rock Band for the last four or five years.

    • CXK says:

      I’m with you on that. I would be really let down if they don’t add that support. I don’t mind buying a new adapter, just let me use my own drum kit.

  • brad says:

    I just hope they make the lanes the same depth as in Blitz. This will make it much more fun to play expert on any instrument. No one really cares about scoring graphics on the screen but seeing the notes much earlier would be super nice.

  • Denyz says:

    Personally, one of the great thrills of Rock Band has been returning to Rockbandaide.com each week to see what DLC goodies were under the tree. Was it gonna be a tie (boo) or a deluxe edition quad copter drone with high def cams? (WAH-hoo!!) Here’s hoping for the the return of weekly DLC,

  • Alex says:

    Seriously, this is probably the best day ever of this year so far. Can’t believe it!

  • Trevor says:

    All of my Rock Band DLC is on X360, but the only next gen system I own is a PS4. Will I be able to transfer it over, (like GTA5 and Diablo 3 does with save data,) or am I screwed into having to buy an X1 just so I can salvage my DLC?

    • Mcmax3000 says:

      GTAV/Diablo 3 save data can be saved on Rockstar & Blizzard servers.

      DLC purchases are made through Microsoft, and Sony. They are the ones that have those records, so the chances of cross compatibility going from 360 > PS4, or PS3 > XB1 are pretty much non-existent.

    • Croq says:

      I suppose there is always a chance, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

    • CXK says:

      If you havent seen the news already, its not going to work. The licensing doesnt work that way, so you’re stuck to the console family your DLC is on.

    • Rick says:

      Having XBox 360 DLC show up on the PS4 would involve:

      1). Microsoft giving Sony all their internal records of what Xbox Live users bought what DLC.
      2). Sony somehow knowing that the “Trevor_XBox_Forever” user on XBox Live is the same human being named “Trevor_Sony_Rules” on PlayStation Network.
      3). Sony then giving you all that legacy DLC for free because they never saw a penny of the money you paid to Microsoft for all that DLC.

      Stranger things have happened, I suppose.

  • Caio says:

    I missed you too, rockbandaide

  • HellWithoutSin says:

    Bring back keys!

  • Pele says:

    Welp. I’ve been waiting for a reason to buy a PS4, and this is it.

  • Big Addie Cool says:

    I would be willing to pay Sony a small fee for the license transfer from my PS3 to my XB1. Perhaps that is something HMX could negoitate.

    • Excessive_Farce says:

      First they need to sort out the ongoing labor dispute between the Tooth Fairy and the unicorns.

  • richeymanic says:

    I’m confused whether pro drums are going to support the cymbals or not? If so, this should bode well for some new reasonably priced full kits.

  • Davidshek says:

    Good to see you’re still keeping up with this stuff, and keeping us informed! 🙂

  • Mark says:

    Echoing Richeymusic’s comment- I’m nervous that simpler drum kit and no extra peripherals translates to no symbols add on hardware this time. That would stink as It’s weird hitting a pad and getting two different sounds out of it (snare, then later hi hat in same song)

  • Jason R. says:

    So here’s a question: When RB4 is launched, will you be able to download older DLC that you didn’t purchase for one of the older generation systems? I ask b/c I have a PS3, but I wouldn’t be completely opposed to getting an XB1 if I can pick up some RBN songs that I couldn’t get over the past couple of years.

    • Croq360 says:

      I would think that the DLC will be available for sale on the new consoles as soon as it’s made available. I can’t imagine that they would be porting the DLC over just to support existing players that upgrade to RB4, certainly they are going to want to sell the songs to new RB4 players wherever possible too.

  • NeilIsntWitty says:

    Firstly, just wanted to share that it’s great to come back to RockBandAide for RB4 news. Our core group of friends is still playing RB3, and we’re SO stoked for RB4.

    My only hope is that the ION Drum Rocker Core drum kit will continue to be supported, or that ION makes a new centre component compatible with the next-gen systems. Moving up to the ION kit was a game changer for drumming.