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Rock Band Rivals is Out Now!

Hi! Ryan Lesser here, Creative Lead on Rock Band Rivals, writing to you from the halls of Harmonix. I have been asked to take you on a little stroll down memory lane, leading to today, as my involvement with Rock Band has been a long and winding road.

After leading Amplitude for the PS4, it was exciting to come back "home" to Rock Band. Though my history with music games started in the late 90's, it was not until the mid 2000's that I started working on Rock and Roll games. I was lucky enough to be on the original Guitar Hero team. It was an incredible game to help create...working on our first plastic guitar, our first 3D fretboard and "gem" interface, and creating a world where we lured people into listening to the same awesome music that WE knew and loved. A few years later, I had the great experience of helping to bring the first Rock Band to life as well. NEW GUITARS! DRUMS! MICS! It was so cool! We set out to let the world know what it felt like to be in a band, and people dug it. After that came The Beatles: Rock Band. Another amazing time to be a Harmonix Developer. Abbey Road, The Beatles recording stems, Character models, "dreamscapes". Very cool.

Fast forward to this year. I was asked to join the Rock Band team again to help them ship an awesome expansion for game. I did my best to help focus the team on the finish line and get their sweet ideas out into the world. Rockudrama is hysterical and the Rivals feature is the start of what I hope will be a long lasting way to play competitively. Having both a history in rock bands AND Rock Bands, I like to think that I brought some helpful experience to the team.

There are a hell of a lot of people out there that play Rock Band every what will they see when they get their hands on Rivals?

One of the first things we did is take feedback from our beloved group of "super users" about how we could improve the Rock Band experience. First up: the shell. We spent a lot of time making the shell not just prettier, but also more user-friendly. The shell touches every part of the game, so an overhaul is a significant undertaking, but I think people are really going to dig the new look and feel. Next up: the Music Library. For many people, this is a spot in the game where you spend a lot of time, and have a lot of data (songs!). We have improved the ways that players can sort their library as well as adding a personal rating system. Players can not only sort by ratings, but if they rate a song with the lowest score (1 bar), they can perma-hide them. This should make it really simple for folks with specific musical tastes to basically never have to see the genres/bands/songs that they dislike.

Let’s talk new features! I hope that everyone takes the time to play some Rockudrama. It is really fun and puts a nice slant on Rock Band. Over the years, a bunch of us have thought of and presented the idea of mockumentary about YOUR band. For Rock Band 4: Rivals, Helen McWilliams and Matt Derby spearheaded the invention of Rockudrama. There are some Easter eggs buried in that part of the game, too, that seasoned Rock Band players will pick up on.

Finally, we hope to see all players joining Crews and competing in the Rivals Weekly Challenges. Rivals is our asynchronous online multiplayer mode (not to be confused with SYNCHRONOUS online multiplayer, coming this December to a Rock Band near you). Folks can join Crews and fight to rise through the Tiers, starting at Bronze and vying for a coveted position in the top tier, BLOODSTONE. Spotlight Songs allow high skill players to show their stuff on the Weekly Challenge dashboard, while players that just love to play can contribute to their team's status by playing songs and generating XP.

The team has been at it for a while now and is excited to see the world play. Have fun, and let us know what you think.