As expected, Harmonix announced Rock Band 4 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on Thursday. The developer dropped details on what to expect of the next-generation music rhythm game when it comes to instruments and songs.
Will it support all the songs I purchased for previous Rock Bands
Yes. Players who purchased or downloaded music for Rock Band on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 will be able to download and play the same tracks at no additional charge.
There is a catch though. The songs may not transfer across console families. So if you've migrated from the PS3 to Xbox One or Xbox 360 to PS4, there's no guarantee the songs will transfer. Harmonix says this is out of their control.
Will it support my old plastic instruments?
Maybe. Harmonix is working with Microsoft, Sony, and Mad Catz to make sure that instruments from older titles work with Rock Band 4. It sounds like the developer is avoiding fully committing to the idea that every older peripheral will be compatible, but many will.
"We're working with Sony and Microsoft to make that possible, and I have to hedge a little bit because the keys to that kingdom really are held by the first parties," Project Manager Daniel Sussman told Game Informer.
"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. But those conversations are going very well, and I'm confident that we will have a solution, but because we don't have it today that's kind of the most concrete statement that I can make about it."
Yes, there will be new hardware for Rock Band 4. Harmonix only plans to support guitars, drums, and microphones at the moment. Don't expect the return of keyboards from Rock Band 3 as Harmonix says they are focusing on the "core band."
Also, expect the new instruments to be incremental improvements over the older peripherals. The "Pro Guitar" will not make a return either. The desire to support older hardware is partly behind this reason along with the desire not to make Rock Band fans feel like they have to upgrade to new instruments.
Will Pro Mode Return?
No. Sussman told Forbes that Harmonix wants to focus on making Rock Band 4 a "fun, accessible, social, band sim." He felt that some of the components like Pro Mode in Rock Band 3 distracted and conflicted with those goals.
How will gameplay change?
One of the big goals of Rock Band 4 is to get players more into acting and feeling like they're in a band instead of focusing on their track. The developer is also trying to find ways to allow players be more expressive while they are playing, something that was a cornerstone of Harmonix's Fantasia: Music Evolved.
Expect changes to vocals as well. Sussman told Game Informer that they have a "couple of really cool vocal features out our sleeve that I think will appeal to singing enthusiasts."
When will it launch and how much will it cost?
Harmonix is only saying that Rock Band 4 will launch in 2015. They are not ready to announce a release date or price yet.
We're thrilled to announce that Rock Band 4 is coming out this year! Hit the link for pre order info, FAQ, & more! http://t.co/9i2ZQDhFILWill there be a Rock Band 5?
— Harmonix (@Harmonix) March 5, 2015
Not for the current generation of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Harmonix told Game Informer that they see an opportunity to expand through content updates and DLC versus releasing additional sequels.
Wii U or PC support?
Harmonix is still a relatively small studio and has to prioritize development of Rock Band 4. That means supporting the larger PlayStation and Xbox communities first. There are currently no plans to release the game on the PC or Wii U.
[Images via Harmonix]