Rock Band is easily one of the most important series to debut in the seventh generation of game consoles. Harmonix approached the aged concept of local multiplayer in an innovative but accessible way, channeling the rockstar spirit of their previous franchise Guitar Hero into an experience that could be shared with a whole band of friends. After the final DLC of the series was released, the future of Rock Band seemed dubious, but Harmonix announced at GDC this year that the franchise would put on a revival tour. Now, we at Hardcore Gamer have varied opinions when it comes to Rock Band’s return, but for me, here are five things Rock Band 4 ought to do if it wants to take the world by storm.
Let Us Personalize Our Journey
Rock Band gives players the opportunity to create their own dream band. Between names, appearances, and even logos, previous games offer tons of personalization options. But still, there could be more. What if we could design our own custom album covers or a custom tour bus? Rock Band has always been about living the dream of rock stardom in your living room, so I think Harmonix should let players experience as much of the dream as possible. Give us the glitz with the glamour.
Offer a Large and Diverse Main Setlist
Rock Band has always had great soundtracks. The original game was rich with superb selections like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, and Soundgarden, and the sequel was even better. Rock Band 3, however, felt heavily unbalanced, laying off the heavier rock in favor of softer classic stuff and even pop tracks. It was also weighted heavily in favor of the past (the 90’s felt noticeably bare). If Rock Band 4 is to succeed, its main setlist shouldn’t just be massive, but also diverse in chronology. A few pop novelties are okay, but this is ROCK Band, so give the hard rock fans from all decades something to enjoy.
Keep the DLC Coming
This is probably a really easy request for Harmonix, considering their stellar track record in the past, but they could also easily drop the ball. Harmonix’s DLC offerings on the Rock Band store were shockingly consistent. Every week brought us something new, whether it was a few singles, a three-pack, or even a full album. If Harmonix can continue that trend now, our hard drives will be packed before we know it. That’s a good thing. Harmonix once showed DLC at its absolute best: convenient, un-obstructive, and consistent. As long as they can provide new songs every week, it shouldn’t be a difficult task for them to revisit that trend in 2015.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get a Little Goofy
It’s okay to break from convention a little. Rock Band has always had a pretty straightforward system: hit the notes right to score big points. But one underrated game added some fascinating variety to the series: Rock Band Blitz. The XBLA title was more a rock-themed Frequency than a true Rock Band game. While the main Rock Band games follow a pretty standard pattern, I think adding more whimsical features in a side mode could keep things from getting stale. Bizarre diversions like playing pinball on the note highway or specifying an instrument to play for big points could add some flair to the formula. Loosen up the reins a little, Harmonix. You might be surprised.
Don’t Make Us Learn, Let Us Have Fun
Rock Band was not initially designed to be a teaching tool. When the series broke out it aimed to let us party like rockstars, and it worked. Rock Band 2 expanded on that fantasy with more songs and a broader career mode. Then Rock Band 3 happened, and Harmonix decided that they needed new peripherals to emulate actually playing an instrument. These peripherals were expensive, and the teaching tools were insufficient to be worthwhile for students. Learning to play the guitar is hard, and after training yourself for years on five buttons, moving to a full six-string makes it even harder. That’s why Rock Band 4 should scrap the lessons and keep things simple.