From new downloadable songs themed around resurrection and nostalgia to a customer survey that flat-out asked people what they want from a modern sequel, the announcement of a new Rock Band has been looming for months. Today, Harmonix finally let the cat out of the bag: Rock Band 4 is coming, and the developer aims to release it this year on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The dozens (hundreds?) of extra songs you may or may not have purchased for your Rock Band library on an old console will make the transition and be playable in Rock Band 4 at no extra charge—with a few caveats. Harmonix is working with Sony and Microsoft to make sure any previous purchases are redeemable on the new consoles, but as of now, it’ll only work if you’ve stuck with the same brand (PlayStation 3 to PlayStation 4 or Xbox 360 to Xbox One). Also, Harmonix isn’t guaranteeing that every old song will be available for re-download at Rock Band 4’s launch. Wannabe rockers will only be able to access their old tracks once Harmonix has finished reworking and rereleasing them for the new game.
Harmonix and Mad Catz, the controller manufacturer who helped make and distribute all those old plastic instruments, are working together on new Rock Band guitars and drum sets, but the companies also hope to get old instruments up and running on the new systems. However, players who aimed their sights low and fancied acting out the dream of being a world famous keytarist will be disappointed to hear the Rock Band 3 keyboard won’t be supported. Neither will the more realistic “pro” controllers, as RB3’s “pro mode,” which tried to teach players how to play real instruments, is being abandoned while Harmonix returns its focus for RB4 to the more abstract rock ’n’ roll experience at the series’ core.
Moving back away from realism would separate Rock Band 4 from the more lifelike reboot Activision is rumored to be prepping for the series’ stepbrother and arch rival, Guitar Hero. But Harmonix, for its part, won’t replicate the flood of sequels and spinoffs that helped kill the plastic-instrument-game phenomenon. Instead, Polygon reports, Rock Band 4 will receive both free and paid updates over time, in addition to maintaining the series’ ever-growing library of purchasable tracks. The specifics of how those updates will work and what other new features Harmonix is prepping for this Rock Band revival will be shown off at the E3 trade show in June.