Rock Band 4: The Return Of The Plastic Instruments

It’s been awhile since I’ve been excited for a game announcement. Sure, Uncharted 4 looks amazing and Mortal Kombat X looks gloriously gory. But it’s been awhile since, upon hearing of a release announcement that I did a fist pump in the air and thanked the gods. That happened on March 5 when the good folks at Harmonix announced their plans to release Rock Band 4 on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Time to turn this bitch up to 11!

spinal tap 11


The Rock God Returns

It’s been 5 years since the last Rock Band game, the music genre had all but fizzled out by 2010. However, unlike their contemporaries at Activision with their Guitar Hero series, Harmonix continued to support Rock Band 3 with weekly DLC song releases. Then, on April 2, 2013, Harmonix released their last DLC song for the foreseeable future. And then, out of nowhere, Harmonix announced that they were releasing new DLC on January 13, 2015. After 21 months of no new music, the fine folks at Harmonix released 3 new songs. And the world rejoiced.

About a month later, Harmonix released 2 more tracks. And the world wept. It was about this time that Harmonix sent out a survey to some of its followers to see if there was still an interest in the music genre. If they released a new game, would people come? Shortly after, the Rock Heavens opened up and let forth a host of angels heralding the return of the One True King of Rock Games: Rock Band 4. And its second coming would be sooner than you think.

What we know…

Since this initial announcement back in March, there hasn’t been too much more said. Here’s what we do know:

  • The game will launch some time this year on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One platforms. E3 2015 should shed more light.
  • The game will launch with new instruments. As of now, Harmonix is working with Sony and Microsoft to allow owners of older instruments the ability to use what they already have.
  • The game will focus on its core gameplay mechanics. So while Rock Band 3 was about emulating the experience of playing real instruments, Rock Band 4 is about bringing the game back to its core. To that, the game will not be supporting the PRO guitars or the keyboard. PRO drums mode will, however, still be supported.
  • Speaking of support, almost all of the DLC you purchased will be transferable to the new game provided you’re moving generationally (PS3 to PS4 or XB360 to XBOne). Not all tracks will transfer, however, due to licensing issues. Most notably will be the Rock Band: Beatles songs as well as songs on the Rock Band 3 disc. That isn’t to say that the missing songs won’t eventually come to the game, but they will have to rework the license for those tracks. The nice thing is you won’t have to pay any sort of transfer fee to move the songs you do have.
  • Eric Pope, the project manager at Harmonix, mentioned that the game will look and sound better than ever before. Using the power of the current gen systems, you can expect more realistic lighting, character models, animation, 1080p resolution, and 60 fps.
  • Harmonix COO, Alex Rigopulos, has stated that Rock Band 4 will be more of a service or a platform than a game. Any additions or changes will be added to Rock Band 4 in the form up game updates that will add to the core game experience.
  • You can visit the Harmonix website, and request songs that you would like to see featured in game.


Monkey See

Just as soon as Harmonix started sending out feelers if there was interest in another Rock Band, rumors started floating around that Activision was thinking of relaunching their music rhythm franchise, Guitar Hero. While there has been no official announcement as of yet, rumors point to an announcement at this year’s E3.

There hasn’t been a Guitar Hero game since 2010’s Warriors of Rock release. While there were other factors as to why the music genre imploded upon itself, the glut of me-too games and their corresponding plastic instruments didn’t help the genre’s longevity. And Activision is guilty of milking the genre dry by releasing yearly updates and different concepts like DJ Hero. Since Guitar Hero first launched in 2005, Activision release 11 games in the Hero series (not including the DJ Hero series or handheld iterations). It’s no wonder gamers got tired of the genre.

While normally I’m excited for any chance of completion with the video game industry, I hope Activision treads lightly if they decide to return to the music genre. Here’s hoping they exercise restraint instead of sucking on the teat until it’s dry. But considering how they’ve treated the Tony Hawk franchise and how they now treat the Call of Duty series, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Hey, Kids, Rock & Roll. Rock On!

Hopefully more information about Rock Band 4 will be released soon. You can visit the Harmonix website to sign up for an email notice as to when pre-orders will be available. Best believe, I will be there ready to rock out with my controller out.

Images: Harmonix, Embassy Pictures 

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