The Rock Band franchise provides hours of entertainment for music lovers and proved to be a popular pastime with close friends. Learning an instrument is very challenging and requires a patient approach. Furthermore, to master any instrument takes years of experience and a huge commitment. As someone who plays the guitar, I’ve never been too keen on music games and would prefer people to learn the basics of a real instrument. However, this isn’t always a viable option due to time constraints and purchasing music equipment can be a very expensive proposition. Rock Band and Guitar Hero allow people to feel like rock stars without having to endure the hard learning curve.
Unfortunately, the Rock Band games have been resigned to the console market and PC players haven’t been able to enjoy the unique experiences. Perhaps, the publisher felt the series is best played in front of a large TV in the living room. However, this isn’t really reflective of modern PCs because you can easily hook up a HDMI cable from your PC to a television. This is especially the case with small form factor systems. Despite being backed by a major publisher for a number of years, the Rock Band team recently went independent and launched a crowdfunding campaign on fig.co to produce a PC version of Rock Band 4. Here’s a brief snippet from the page:
“Back in the Rock Band heyday, we were owned by media giant Viacom, and distributed by game publishing giant Electronic Arts. What you might not know is that a few years ago, we spun back out of Viacom and went completely independent. This past October, we released Rock Band 4 for the consoles—the first new Rock Band release in 5 years. This was a massive undertaking for us as an indie studio, but we somehow pulled it off.”
“We’ve been planning, scheduling, scoping and preparing this PC version since the day after we launched on console back in October, and we’re now ready to launch this Fig campaign to ask for your help to make this happen.”
Unfortunately, the crowdfunding attempt didn’t go as planned and only managed to reach 52% of the $1,500,000 goal. Overall, 1674 backers pledged $792,817 which fell well short of their target. As a result, it looks like Rock Band 4 on PC isn’t a project which will ever come to fruition.
Plastic instruments around the world have been slowly working their way into people’s garages and lofts for the last couple of years, ever since the great rhythm game boom slowly died off and became stagnant. It was a great time, I owned many of the games and practically had an orchestra’s worth of pretend instruments, which saw hundreds of hours of usage between me and my friends when we were having house parties, or just kicking back with a few beers.
Now it seems those good times of jamming with your friends are back, for what feels like something of a reunion tour and hopefully not the last one. Harmonix is back with Rock Band 4, with new songs, new instruments and given the few years it has been since the last one, a new audience to entice into the rhythm game market.
There’s a notable omission from the game this time around, however, as there is a lack of online multiplayer, which is a big issue for those who live far from their friends. On the plus side, this game is locked and loaded for local co-op gaming, allowing you and your friends to play drums and guitars, as well as sing vocals. Whether or not online multiplayer being missing is a deal breaker for you will vary, but for me, it’s not a feature I would be using. The game is missing a few small features, but all that could change in the near future, as Harmonix has made it no secret that they’re using the base game as a content platform, with new features, songs and who knows what else coming through various updates, with several in the works already.
Setting up the instruments is easy enough, as they’re all intuitive as far as where all the components go and as a bonus, you’ll find batteries included, as all instruments bar the microphone are wireless. The drum controller has been massively updated, although it still keeps the look and shape you’ll be familiar with. It’s more responsive, durable and from what I can tell, a little quieter too! The pads are velocity sensitive, the kick pedal is durable and has a responsive spring that makes it feel natural and as a nice bonus, the included sticks are of a very nice quality; they’ll feel right at home in the hands of anyone who’s played a real drum kit.
The guitar looks stunning, a Stratocaster copy with dual neck buttons. The first five at the top of the neck, the rest above the 12th fret area for some solo and tapping action; if you’re feeling adept enough. I’ve been a Guitar Hero veteran for years and I can still hear the squeaky and clicky strum bar in my nightmares. Those days are gone, the MadCatz guitar is super quiet, and the buttons have a really nice action that’s forgiving for those who don’t hit them dead-center. Put simply, the partnership between Harmonix and MadCatz has paid off really well, as the instruments are the best this sector of the market has ever seen and they’re an absolute joy to use.
Gameplay on Rock Band 4 is right where you would expect it to be, somehow everything is new and tweaked, but at the core, it still feels like the same old game. This is a good thing and a bad thing, those looking for a new dynamic will like the new improvisation sections, but at the end of it all, it’s the same core game we came to know and love in the past. The song selection is quite diverse, offering everything from System of a Down to Uptown Funk (like we’ve not had enough of that one already), but there’s enough in there for the music lovers and the karaoke addicts to blunder their way through and keep people entertained. Of course, there’s also a huge library of legacy songs, as well as DLC tracks that are already coming thick and fast, so there’s going to be no shortage to stuff to play anytime soon.
The main “quest” if you will is entertaining enough to warrant a play through, but doesn’t span the difficulty levels as well as previous games in the series. On the plus side, you can swap instruments and even difficulty levels mid-song, meaning you’re less inclined to quit the song when things go wrong. The higher difficulties are a hell of a challenge and a lot of fun, but those wanting something more authentic can invest in the Pro Cymbal kit which launches later this year, as this will unlock Pro mode for the drums.
What this game really lacks though it big hitting tracks, sure there are a few great bands, but they’re not usually the “hits” of their respective albums. This is likely due to most of the best songs being done already with previous entries in the series, but it’s still no excuse. The DLC and more so the legacy library does patch that up nicely, but there’s still no excuses for having two U2 songs here by any measure.
Overall, great fun, incredible new instruments and a good selection of fun to play tracks to get you started. It doesn’t feel as fresh as I was hoping, but with more songs on the way, the drum cymbal add-on now available for pre-order and the promise of plenty of updates to the core game, this is still the best entry in the Rock Band franchise to date and it’s going to be a big contender this holiday season. If you’re looking to get back into rhythm gaming, you’ll not find anything better.
Rock Band 4 – Band in a Box comes with the guitar, microphone, drums and the game for $249.99, while the Triple Cymbal Expansion Kit will set you back an additional $49.99. The standalone game with the guitar is just $129.99. In the UK, the Band in a Box is £219.99, the Guitar and game is £109.99 and the drum cymbals are £39.99.
Exceptional quality instruments
All songs available to play without completing main quest
Drop in – drop out gameplay
Good range of musical styles available
Huge DLC library
Expandable drum kit
Virtually silent guitar
No online multiplay
Drums expansion kit not available at launch
DLC prices can quickly add up to a small fortune, but with licencing rights, this is understandable
Not as many big hits in the base game as previous entries in the series
“Rock Band 4 is the best entry in the series so far, with the best instruments ever to bless rhythm gaming and a huge library of songs available to choose from. If you’re looking for the ultimate party game, this is it!”
What do you get when you mix a Xbox 360 Rock Band 1 Guitar controller with a PS4 version of Bloodborne? Well, a bit of a headache getting it to work at first, but eventually an epic ‘Guitarborne’ gameplay video, as Twitch streamer bearzly names it.
It looks like the guy really has some crazy ideas up his sleeves, but at the same time, they are most entertaining to watch. Also, the Guitarborne stream is not his first, according to his Twitch profile. He has performed many ‘terrible controllers’ runs of different games, but mostly Dark Souls, as he states he is a huge fan of the Souls series.
Aside from his latest Guitarborne video, he appears to have made a Drum Borne (drum controller), piano controller, one finger, Wiimote & Nunchucks and Bongo Souls (bongo controller) videos. Other videos he has in the planning stages include controllers such as the DDR Pad, Maracas, Katana, N64, SNES, Powerglove and Kinect.
Twitch users can also suggest him other crazy controllers and have him try to make an epic video out of them. At present, the hardest controller he used to play on and stream with is the piano Rock Band 3 controller, experiencing a lot of problems with running straight on the thing. Still, the videos are epic!
Watch some of his videos, including the Guitarborne one, below:
If you want to watch more of his videos, head on over to his Twitch profile. What do you think? Have any crazy controller ideas in mind?
Rock Band 4 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 has been confirmed by developer Harmonix Music Systems, due for release later this year.
“When we stopped developing Rock Band 3 [in 2010], clearly the market needed a break,” Alex Rigopulos, CEO of Harmonix, told IGN. “But since then we’ve been paying close attention to what our community has been saying about it. There’s been this steadily growing crescendo of fans saying, ‘Hey Harmonix, what the hell? It’s time! Why haven’t you announced a new Rock Band? We’re ready for it!’”
Harmonix says that it is taking the game back to basics, and is cutting the fat of multiple releases. Instead, Rock Band 4 will serve as a central hub for additional DLC packs; Harmonix has confirmed that purchased songs from previous Rock Band games will be transferable to the new release, specific to the player’s Xbox or PSN account, and that it is looking into a way to make old instruments compatible with the new game.
Regarding Harmonix’s new model, Rigopulos said, “Going forward, our goal is to view [Rock Band 4] as more of a live service where we can gradually and incrementally append new functionality to the core experience rather than having $60 annual title updates. You shouldn’t expect a Rock Band 5 in 2016.”
This is music to my ears and no doubt bad news for the people who live next-door to me! It’s been four long years since Guitar Hero last graced our screens and at least two years since I rocked out with my Guitar Hero drum kit and guitars; is it time for me to dust off the old peripherals and warm up for a new game?
According to two sources close to the franchise, Activision is developing a new Guitar Hero game, as well as new peripherals for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
“We don’t comment on rumor or speculation, but have previously said, that as one of the most beloved entertainment franchises, we would only bring Guitar Hero back if we developed the right innovations to usher the franchise into the new generation of gaming.” Said Activision when asked for a comment on the rumour.
It’s expected the game will be at E3 and will launch later this year, no doubt in time for the Christmas season.
With news that Harmonix may be working on Rock Band 4, it looks like the two rock-star simulators will be going for a battle of the bands once more!
Thank you IGN for providing us with this information.