It’s been a hot minute since we’ve talked about online multiplayer for Rock Band 4. We announced the feature was on its way back at PAX East. Since then, we’ve released a ton of kickass DLC, a couple updates bringing things like Practice Mode, and a little ol’ thing called Rock Band Rivals. Obviously we haven’t had a shortage of things to talk about, but I want to take a few minutes to share some details about synchronous online multiplayer.
For starters, the team has been hard at work for months on this feature. Starting back when some important design decisions were made (e.g. Are we basing this off of Quickplay or Play a Show?), we did a lot of user research, scoured through forum and Reddit threads, and did our homework to make improvements to the experiences of previous Rock Band online multiplayer. We’ve focused on Quickplay, since that’s how most people play Rock Band today. But this isn’t just Quickplay. We’ve brought back some old, mixed in some improvements, and added a splash of new, and we’re really excited about what we’ll be sharing with the world soon.
To kick things off, check out this short video below (In the biz, we call this a “sizzle reel”) walking through the mode:
We kick things off in the Green Room. This is the place where a group leader gets the band together, decides if “No Fail” is going to be on, and only green M&M’s are allowed. Once everyone’s joined up and ready, we go to the music library. Instead of picking one song at a time, online sessions will consist of four-song setlists, where each player gets to pick one song. There’s also an added filter in the music library to only show songs that the entire party owns. This makes multiplayer song selection much easier, so you spend less time picking and more time rocking. Once the setlist is decided, you’re treated to these fancy new animations that introduce each player before the song starts.
All in all, pretty sweet. Some of the biggest complaints about previous online modes were seeing a lot of grayed out tracks (if you’ve got a bigger library than your bandmates) and players going crazy with song selection (meaning you didn’t get to pick which songs you wanted). We’re looking forward to Rivals owners getting their hands on this and starting to play online! (Did we mention that online play still counts toward Crew XP and Spotlight scores? Because they do!)
So now we get to the part of the blog post where we share a bit of the good news and a bit of bad news. The good news? Uh…have you been paying attention up until this point? Online Quickplay is coming, and it’s super rad. ‘Nuff said. The bad news is that the team wants a bit more time to polish it up before shipping it. Online multiplayer includes many more edge cases to test for, which we want to be sure to cover the best we can before shipping. For example, what if one player pauses at the same time someone else’s network connection drops entirely, and the third player just lags? Networked play introduces many more opportunities for a bad experience, and we want to be sure we get it right.
So, the update with Online Quickplay will be landing on January 25th. The extra few weeks of dev time will result in a game mode that we’re proud of, and one that we expect to be much more enjoyable to you as a player.
That said, we still want to give you an awesome update this month, so we will! We’re going to be pushing a patch next week that has all kinds of cool stuff. For starters, we’re fixing a bunch of bugs that have been surfaced by the community (That’s you!). Dropped frames/hitching in gameplay? Check. Achievements/Trophies related to Rivals badges? Check. Rockudrama venues not showing in Quickplay, incorrect badge awards, and Weekly Challenge Results not showing as expected? Check, check, and check. These (and more) will be coming to everyone who owns Rock Band 4, with full patch notes so you can see all the nitty gritty details of what we fixed.
We’re adding two shirts for AbleGamers, an awesome charity that promotes accessibility in video games by working both with game developers and those with disabilities. Wear their standalone logo with pride or sport their Love AbleGamers shirt in any color of your choosing. These are also going to be available to all Rock Band 4 owners.
On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got some totally brutal gear gracing the Rock Shop with its presence. From the blacker-than-night color to the polished metal spikes, these are sure to show everyone how hardcore you are. These’ll be available in the Rock Shop for anyone who owns Rivals.
That would be a nice, modest update to Rivals to close out the year, but without Online Quickplay to go along with it, we wanted to put a little more meat on these bones, so to speak…
We were really happy to hear how much you loved Rockudrama. Not only did the team work really hard to bring you something interactive, hilarious, and unlike anything we’ve ever done before in a Rock Band campaign, but we also got to showcase a handful of really talented bands from our own backyard. That’s right, all of the bands we interviewed are real artists based out of Boston, and we wanted to share some of their music with you!
Also coming in the update next week for Rivals owners will be 12 free tracks from the following artists, all featured in Rockudrama:
This is the first time we’ve ever included free songs in a game update, and we’re thrilled to be able to bring music from these great artists to all of you through Rock Band 4. It’s great timing too, since everyone you’ll play with online next month will have these songs too, offering an even bigger library of songs you know everyone will have.
To recap, Online Quickplay is shaping up really nicely and will be launching on January 25th. We’re launching a December update next week with 12 free songs (for Rivals owners), Rock Shop items, and a bunch of bug fixes.
2016 has been a great year for Rock Band, and we’re happy to have all of you along for the ride.