**PLEASE NOTE THAT THE GAME REQUIRES A DRUM, MICROPHONE OR GUITAR CONTROLLER TO PLAY. WORKS WITH ALL PLAYSTATION 4 ROCK BAND CONTROLLERS AND MOST OTHER ROCK BAND AND THIRD PARTY WIRELESS MUSIC GAMES CONTROLLERS AND MICROPHONES.***
Rock Band 4 is the fourth game in the Rock Band series released five years after the previous main title Rock Band 3. It continues the concept of the earlier games where players simulate playing music using peripherals designed as instruments to mimic playing the lead and bass guitar and drums, and singing the vocals to songs. Unlike the contemporary Guitar Hero Live it has backwards compatibility for the instruments and content of the previous games in the same console family. The wireless guitar and drum controllers from the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of previous Rock Bands can be used. For the PS4 this is done using the existing USB dongle and for the Xbox One with a new dongle included with the game. It is also sold as a Band-in-a-Box bundle with a wireless Fender Stratocaster guitar, a wireless drum kit, and USB microphone, or just the guitar. Two instruments introduced in Rock Band 3 are no longer supported: the Pro Guitar and the Keyboard. The new instruments are fairly similar, but have been redesigned. Like in the previous game the drum kit can be expanded with three pads that act as symbals to use in the Pro Drum mode. Songs purchased as DLC for previous versions of the game can be carried over inside the same console family free of charge granted they has been ported over to support the features of the new version of the game.
The gameplay is identical to the earlier games and the visual style is still based on animated characters and environments. One or more players use the instruments and microphone to play and sing through songs by following the cues on the screen. The score is based on the accuracy. Certain sections are marked with coloured notes. When these are completed successfully, an Overdrive meter is filled. When sufficiently full it can be activated to double the score multiplier for a short while. The base game contains 63 tracks, with both new ones and some that were previously available as DLC for earlier games.
Freestyle solos are a new feature for the game. There are sections with solos for individual instruments where there are no prompts on the screen to follow. The player is entirely free to improvise, but to score there are a few general rules to follow. Using the guitar a blue colour shows the upper buttons need to be used and an orange colour the bottom ones. There are also hints when to match the beat, when to fingertap or to only use long notes. Optionally this feature can be disabled and then a predetermined solo needs to be followed. For the drums there are now drum fills replacing the freestyle sections of the previous game. For the vocals, when playing on ‘hard’ or ‘expert’, it is possible to boost the multiplier by singing an octave higher or lower as soon as the pitch is generally correct. Like in earlier games some songs have harmonies for up to three parts.
In the main career mode a starting band is introduced who needs to make it to the top. Instead of just completing songs to progress, the game presents various options for gigs that hold certain risks and rewards, from the attendance of fans based on the chosen region to the amount of money that can be earned and the opportunities it opens for the future career. For instance, if a band mainly chooses money and plays corporate sponsored gigs, this may influence the fanbase and possible future venues. The money earned through performances can be used to customize the band’s instruments and clothes. The band members can be designed as custom avatars with various options for the looks and clothes. Players can also decide to hire a stylist and choose how to travel around. Remaining overdrive and multipliers are sometimes carried over between songs. The game no longer has online multiplayer or a practice mode. There is quick play and a new mode called shows, as a series of songs broken up in sets. The songs are largely predetermined but the players can vote on them between songs or during parts of the song when their instrument is not active.