This is one of those announcements that makes me have to pull back the reigns and remember to be a games journalist first, because the gamer and huge Rock Band enthusiast in me is about ready to jump around my apartment with so much excitement. Rock Band absolutely became a huge part of my life in college and I still have my instruments raring to go at a moment’s notice if I feel like playing a song or two. I have over 1,400 songs sitting on my Xbox 360. This includes all of the released RB games and over 1,000 DLC tracks. So to say that I’ve been waiting for this news with baited breath would be an absolute understatement.
Today, Game Informer posted their interview with developers from Harmonix confirming that indeed the rumors are true, Rock Band 4 is in development and it will be coming out this year for Xbox One and PS4. Harmonix stated in the interview that they plan on revealing all of the details at E3 2015, and considering their longstanding relationship with Microsoft’s Xbox consoles, it will probably be at Microsoft’s E3 media briefing. In the interview, Harmonix relieved a lot of the fears of long time Rock Band players, while also creating a lot of anticipation for what’s to come in the series.
First of all, Harmonix stated that they will bring over the DLC library from the previous RB games to Rock Band 4. The way they are going to roll this out is a little different than how they’ve done it before when introducing a new game. Not all of the over 2,000 DLC songs will be available at once. There are licensing issues to be had here, but Harmonix is working hard on making sure to keep everything intact. Any pre-purchased DLC that is not available at launch, will be made available to download and play for free, if and when those songs arrive on Rock Band 4. So, you won’t have to re-buy any DLC. But there’s also the possibility that some of your DLC may not be playable on RB 4 for a long time, and if a particular song is not re-licensed, then you won’t be able to play that song on RB 4 at all.
However, for those wondering, Harmonix has no plans at this time for a Rock Band 3 disc export. They did say that if there is enough fan support for a RB 3 disc export, they will look into how to make that happen. It’s also possible that they could release songs from RB 3 in big packs, similar to how they made the Green Day Rock Band DLC available for gamers who didn’t buy Green Day Rock Band.
However, Harmonix was not as definitive about the previous generation instruments stating that the technological leap from the previous consoles to the current ones is a major issue they are trying to resolve, especially since Sony and Microsoft are the ones that have final say on whether this can happen or not. But they are working on it and that at least is a good sign.
“We’re dealing with a lot of hardware technology that has changed over the generational gap, and the security protocols and the chips in play are different on 360 and Xbox One, and to some lesser extent, between the PS3 and the PS4. But there’s still policy and some challenging technology that we’re working through.”
Harmonix also said that new instruments will be made that take advantage of the current hardware on offer. However, because this is a “back to basics” sort of thing, they will not be supporting the Keyboard.
“From a hardware perspective, we really want to rally around the classic configuration of guitar, bass, vocals, and drums, and double down on a feature set that will appeal to that player – because that’s where the action is. Those are the peripherals that most people have.”
Harmonix probably also covered the concerns that everyone from old players to new players to even retailers are worried about. As a large part of the death of these games, came from a flooding of yearly releases from Activision’s Guitar Hero franchise and also band specific games from both companies, not to mention the large amount of instrument bundles that came along with these games as well. This left retailers with so much unneeded back stock that by the time Rock Band 3 came out, no one wanted to carry any more of these plastic behemoths.
Harmonix says that Rock Band 4 doesn’t mean that there will be more numbered games in the future during this console generation. The number itself represents a step forward from Rock Band 3, but this game will encompass what Harmonix always wanted Rock Band to be, which is a platform where not only DLC can be added, but new features, gameplay components, and entire title updates can be put into RB 4 with a patch.
“We think that there’s an opportunity this time around, given the technology to interact directly with our audience and also to react to the feedback that we get directly from our audience to sort of expand upon a core game of Rock Band 4. So Rock Band 4 will expand through title updates, through content updates, over the long span. We view Rock Band 4 as the Rock Band for this console generation, and it will continually evolve through a dialogue with our community.”
As far as features they could discuss, Harmonix says they wanted people to be able to experience more of what it means to be a band. A lot of the game is looking at the instrument track and pressing the colored buttons that come down the screen. Harmonix wants there to be more than that and for people to be able to take in the atmosphere and scenery going on around them.
“There are some dynamics in that moment that I think are entertaining, but what could we do from a game-design standpoint to allow you to pick your head up above the fray and reward you for paying attention for what other people in your band are doing. That ended up being a pretty rich trove of great ideas, a lot of which we prototyped, and some of which we’re building. It had an immediate impact on the multiplayer game. It made it instantly more fun and more social, which is what we’re all about. There are some huge wins there that we’re excited to show at E3.”
Harmonix says they are also working on how to improve vocals so that they game can detect if you are actually singing the song or not. But don’t worry, Harmonix doesn’t want to add an difficulty to the game by doing this. Harmonix are also working on how to implement some of the creativity aspects from Fantasia: Music Evolved, where you could change the way a song sounds or pick a different type of instrument to play. Perhaps maybe we could see players be able to choose to play a rhythm guitar track in certain sections, instead of just lead guitar.
Here’s a behind the scenes video taken from the same interview:
Harmonix seems to have comeback from their time away from Rock Band, refreshed and ready to assess what they can do better in Rock Band 4. This can only be a great thing for fans and newcomers alike, because they can offer an experience that no one else can replicate. Sadly, we have to wait until E3 2015 to learn more about what else is in RB 4, but at least there is official confirmation that Rock Band 4 exists and that 2015 will be the year that gamers can put the band back together.
Source: Game Informer