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A Look Inside Rock Band 4’s New Career Mode

Hello friends, rockers, country persons,

We know you’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of Rock Band 4. You’ve let us know on Facebook, Twitter, the forums, and by carrier pigeon, that you need MOAR information before you really commit to that preorder.

Well, grab yourself an icy cold beverage, a snack, and a comfy seat because we’re about to spill the details on our new Career mode. We’ll take you through the ins and outs of playing shows, making choices with your band, and unlocking gorgeous new clothing, gear, and opportunities along the way.

Full band gameplay

Some Backstory

When we set out to bring back the Rock Band franchise, we took a good hard look at our canon to date. We pulled all of our previous titles off the shelves, played, played, and played some more. We surveyed fans, hit the forums, and finally locked a bunch of developers in a room with a whiteboard, a set of fancy markers, and a promise of gourmet pizza.

When we first set out to make games over 20 years ago, our company’s founders looked at ways to bring musical experiences to non-musicians. Daniel, our product manager, did a retrospective blog this past spring. In it he talks about the first Rock Band game being a natural evolution for our company. Rock Band gave us an opportunity to bring musical interactivity and collaboration to a whole generation of people who might not have the chance to play in bands otherwise.

Rock Band 4 is going to be the Rock Band game for the current console generation. In a way we’re not so much rebooting Rock Band as we’re fine tuning it. In Rock Band 4 we’re going back to the things that we – and fans – loved the most about our past titles. We’ve taken some old features, like the story, and sharpened them up with room to continue expanding. We’ve added other features – like our new freestyle guitar solos – and shows – to deepen the fantasy of being in a band, playing live music, and collaborating with bandmates.


Play shows to progress

When you get your shiny new copy of Rock Band 4 on release day, you’ll see a few new options on the Main Menu. At the very very top you’ll see “Play A Show.”

Shows are the building blocks of Rock Band 4. Shows are made up of songs and split into sets. During a show you’ll make decisions with your band mates (vote on your setlist, take crowd requests, play an encore) while you play. The gameplay is the standard Rock Band play that you’re used to, with a few shiny new things thrown in to make it easier to collaborate with (or grief) your bandmates.

Each show is at least two songs long and longer shows are split into sets. For those of you that loved the Endless Setlist in previous games, you’ll want to make use of the “Play A Show” option on the Main Menu. (It’s also great for parties – you can select your first song, kick off a show, and then rotate band members easily over the course of the night).

Go On Tour

Every band starts somewhere...

The second option on the Rock Band 4 Main Menu is “Go On Tour” – this will take you to the new Career mode. You’ll start out, like every great band does, as a small hometown act. We’ll have you play a few shows with your bandmates before throwing you into the story. You’ll work with your bandmates to build up your Career and figure out exactly what kind of band you are.

Will you follow the money? Trust your gut? Listen to your dumb drummer Chaz (who invited that guy, anyway?). You’ll encounter unusual characters and circumstances – all drawn from the actual real life experiences of the touring musicians who work here. (And seriously, some of this stuff was so weird in real-life we actually had to tone it down for the game).

Uncle Tony seems ... nice ...

You’ll experience the ins and outs of making decisions with your band, playing shows, weighing whether to sell out or get by, and creating a name and identity for yourself. You’ll even encounter some not so glamorous moments (hint: we love fart jokes here), but we worked hard at ensuring that you and your bandmates will laugh through those.

While we wanted to deepen the fantasy of what it’s like to be in a band, at the end of the day our focus is always on making the player feel awesome. There are no wrong choices in our Career, no nasty crowds, and no cheap shots. While our games may sometimes be snarky, we’re never going to build in features that purposefully make you feel bad about yourself.

Make Your Choices

Decisions decisions...

Each choice that you and your band make impacts your story and the types of shows that you encounter. Some paths will lead to more freedom (voting and pick your own setlists), while others will trade in setlist restrictions in favor of big payouts. Certain story lines will bring fame and riches, some will bring adventures on the road and close calls, while other choices will reward your band with gear, clothing, and customization options.

In the beginning your choices will feel pretty straightforward. Do you choose a manager (who promises boat loads of cash) or the freedom of the open road and a “new to you” van? Later on things will get… trickier. You might have to sacrifice your integrity, you might have to shave your heads, you might have to sleep on a floor or become part of an “installation.” You’ll have to make hard decisions like whether to continuously tolerate Chazz’s farts, sell out, or venture into a weird new world of internet promotion and digital distribution. (Also, beware anyone that asks your band to be on their hip new video game’s soundtrack). At the end of the day will you be Totally Loaded? A Style Icon? Or an Indie Darling?

You'll see your story build

Clothing, Gear, & Other Perks

Our team of artists took advantage of the current console generation’s graphics power to bring some of the most intricate and beautiful costume and sartorial options to the game to date. We also broadened the range of styles represented based on fan feedback. The outlandish, crazy, and avant-garde pieces you’re used to seeing are still in the Rock Shop along with conservative suits, button ups and plain old jeans.

Some lovely looking people

We also took to heart fan requests for more gender expressive options in the Rock Shop. You’ll see that hairstyles, facial hair, and special clothing unlocks are available on both the masculine and feminine character bodies ingame. (We’ll also be introducing some new prefabs to Rock Band 4 – let us know what you think of them!)

We’ve been working on the Career for a while – and we're really excited about what you’ll be seeing at launch. The Career experience will vary band to band, influenced by the choices you make and the way you play. This is all we're revealing for now, but rest assured that we've also still got a few surprises (and fart jokes) up our sleeves...

We’ve had a lot of fun building and testing the new Career. As always we’ll be collecting your feedback after launch as we continue to support and enhance Rock Band 4.