'Rock Band' Returns After Four-Year Absence - Rolling Stone
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‘Rock Band’ Returns After Four-Year Absence

New edition of the video game franchise expected to see release this year


Microsoft employees play "Rockband 3" at the Gamescom video games trade fair in Cologne, Germany, on August 19th, 2010.

Ralph Orlowski/Bloomberg via Getty

Break out the plastic drum kit and the four-buttoned guitar, and start practicing that power stance: Rock Band is returning with video game developer Harmonix planning to release the franchise’s fourth edition for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One this year, Paste reports.

The last iteration of the series, Rock Band 3, arrived in October 2010, and downloadable additions to its library of songs stopped around 2013. Rumors of the game’s return, however, began earlier this year when Harmonix added a handful of new songs to the library with titles that seemed to hint at a rebirth: Tenacious D’s “Rise of the Fenix” and Weezer’s “Back to the Shack.”

While Harmonix is planning a number of updates to the game, they’re working closely with Sony and Microsoft to insure that any instrument sets bought for the game’s Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 editions will be compatible with the new version. The same goes for the libraries of songs players have built up over the years, though it’s possible tracks purchased through the Rock Band Network — which weren’t created by Harmonix and are therefore subject to licensing fees — won’t carry over.

In a a short documentary clip, the folks at Harmonix teased Rock Band 4, and noted they are making the game independently (previous editions were distributed through MTV Games and Electronic Arts).

While the clip doesn’t offer too many details about the changes, Daniel Sussman, a producer on the series and Product Manager for Rock Band 4, told Paste they’re focused on streamlining the user interface and tapping into the game’s core notion of cultivating relationships between friends and music.

“There are a number of areas that we’re focusing on in terms of innovation, one of which is sort of a player to player dynamic and creating a little bit more awareness of what other players in your band are doing,” Sussman explained. “You know, there’s this reality when you’re playing — and you’re playing on expert — you’re trying really hard not to break your streak, you’re sort of focused exclusively on what it is you’re doing. And we’re looking at ways to sort of open up your peripheral vision a little bit, and just like being in a real band, there’s value to paying attention to what other folks in the band are doing… Another area is sort of player expression and trying to figure out how to allow a player to put their mark on the song.”

Harmonix is expected to announce more details about Rock Band 4 at this year’s E3 expo, which takes place June 16th to 18th at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

In This Article: Rock Band


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