In a new report out today, video game developer Harmonix doesn’t just allude to there being a Rock Band 4 in the works. Instead, it’s out right confirming a Rock Band 4 release date for 2015.
An in-depth report from Polygon shares details on the surprise release of Rock Band 4.
In today’s report, Harmonix’s chief creative officer Alex Rigopulos says that one of the things they wanted improve on in this game was taking chances. “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,” he says. Rigopulos is referring to the original games that kick started the rhythm genre: Rock Band and Guitar Hero.
He says that the studio feels it’s their responsibility to “deliver that innovation this time around.” A big part of that innovation seems to revolve around making it easier for people to make sense of what Rock Band really is. Harmonix is promising an arcade-like title. They are trying to distil what made Rock Band great and what didn’t. During the Rock Band 3 era many critics felt that the game’s push to get users playing real life instruments was a bit too much. That push to get users learning real instruments is what’s getting thrown out.
Rock Band 4 will focus on delivering big in three scenarios: users looking to get the highest score they possibly can, users looking to add atmosphere to a party or get-together and a story narrative that lets players simulate the career of real-life rock stars.
The Rock Band series was absolutely huge. In classic versions of Rock Band it’s the player’s job to pick up a controller or a special Rock Band instrument, and play exactly what they see on the screen. Hard core Rock Band players would learn each song after playing it a few times, making it much easier for them to match their button presses with what’s happening on-screen. The patterns changed depending on what song was in play. A group of players could switch instruments for more variety or purchase new songs.
Creating a Rock Band 4 with new songs and new instruments for the new console generation means Harmonix had to consider the Rock Band legacy before releasing this game. Strictly speaking, most games usually break compatibility between console generations. After all, the Xbox One and PS4 are very different from the Xbox 360 and PS3. Thankfully, that’s not what’s happening here.
Songs and downloadable content purchased for past Rock Band games should work on Rock Band 4 – provided that users stay within the same console brand. For example, songs purchased on the Xbox 360 will work on Rock Band 4 for PS4. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Harmonix is still working with individual rights holders to make sure they can deliver on this. Harmonix says that roughly 95 percent of the library that was available before will be available for Rock Band 4.
Controller compatibility is sort of murky too. All of the original Rock Band controllers in the shape of drums and guitars were created specifically for the game by accessory maker Mad Catz. Both Mad Catz and Harmonix are committing to backwards compatibility for older controllers and introducing a set of new controllers. For the PS4, it’s as simple as updating support for the wireless dongle that allowed the PS3 and Rock Band controllers to communicate.
Both companies are still working with Microsoft to sort out backwards compatibility of controllers since they used built-in wireless technology that’s been updated in the Xbox One.
There’ll be three different ways to purchase Rock Band 4 and hardware. A special Band-in-a-Box Bundle will include the game itself, a Stratocaster Guitar controller, microphone and Wireless Drum Kit Controller. A Guitar Bundle will include just the game and the Stratocaster Guitar Controller. Finally, there’ll be a copy of Rock Band 4 on store shelves itself.
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