Warning: Rock Band 4 may cause a person to sing Scandal's "The Warrior" with an external mic active, upload the resulting video to the internet and post it on Kotaku along with their initial impressions of the game. I'm so sorry.
With a couple more features left I'd like to test out, my Rock Band 4 review is still a work in progress. I've been playing through the PlayStation 4 version on my own, which is lovely, but this is Rock Band 4 and not Rock Guy 4.
My wife and I set up the Xbox One version of the game in our living room over the weekend, and can't wait to play it with my anti-singing son Seamus in the room. No one in the house is allowed to sing but him, and should they try he will shout them down in a mildly demonic sort of voice. A bit evil, but so adorable.
My wife Emily and I played a ton of Rock Band 3 before the kids were hatched — it was a date night staple. She handled vocals, I handled guitar, bass or drums. She's quite a good singer. Me? Not so much.
Gathered once more in a living room filled with plastic instruments, our first co-op Rock Band 4 session was like coming home. Aside from a few new features (and the sad loss of my best friend, the keyboard), it's Rock Band. If that's what you wanted, congratulations.
A few initial observations:
- After years of acquiring downloadable content and importing previous games' track lists into the latest version, the 65 songs included on the Rock Band 4 disc don't feel like much, especially once you weed out the ones that don't quite suit your musical tastes. You'll want to download your pre-purchased DLC as soon as possible. If you're new to the game, take a trip through the store before starting a tour.
- The DLC store needs a way to filter songs that have already been purchased. I basically had to go through the entire list song-by-song to figure out which songs I'd purchased while drunk five years ago.
- The ability to import tracks from previously imported versions of the game (i.e. if you imported Rock Band, Rock Band 2, LEGO Rock Band and the like) into Rock Band 4 is not available at launch. It can't come soon enough.
- Still can't make a chubby Rock Band avatar, dammit.
- I should never record the sound of my mouth trying to sing.
- In the wrong hands dynamic guitar solos are an excellent way to make portions of your favourite songs sound like absolute shit. I generally turn them off.
- Yep, drumming still makes my leg hurt.
- The branching tour/story mode is a cool feature for folks that like to play solo. Progression! I'm a big fan of progressing through things.
- Voting for set lists in tour mode is a great way to make me hate my wife. Oh great, we're playing Lady Gaga's "Monster" again.
- The single greatest addition to the game is on-screen countdown timers during long pauses in guitar/vocal/drum performances. "Can you pee in 18 seconds?" "We're about to find out."
There's a lot in Rock Band 4 that feels like "more of the same", but then we've not really had "more of the same" in five years, so there's that.
Look for a full review of Rock Band 4 in the next couple of days. Right now I gotta go practice my rock squats and gargle with lemon and honey.