Rock Band VR Details Revealed

Kai Powell
Posted Mar 31, 2016
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Rock Band 4

If you’ve ever wanted to storm the stage as the head of your very own rock band but have never had the time or talent to make it happen, Harmonix might be one step closer to making that dream come true.

Rock Band VR is coming to headsets everywhere in the future, but how will it differ from Rock Band 4? What are developers doing to make it stand out from its regular reality counterpart?

In a lengthy post on Reddit, Harmonix Social & Community Lead HMXJosh shared some basic information about what to expect:

It’s got totally different gameplay. The appeal of VR is that sense of immersion, that sense of actually being the character whose eyes you’re sharing.

To give you an idea of what I mean, in RB4, you pick a song, it shows the venue. The note highway comes up, and the song starts playing, and you either join in or your score suffers. For the RBVR demo we showed at GDC, it fades in on you being onstage with your bandmates behind a curtain. Using the touch controller, we map the guitar 1:1 in VR. If you look down, your guitar is hanging from your neck. If you pick it up and hold it in front of your face, turn it upside down, whatever you want, you can inspect it within VR and manipulate it however you want.

For the purposes of the demo, we forced you to look around by “turning on” your amp behind you, then “tuning your guitar” (by strumming the guitar a few times). Then you had to do a mic check, so you take a step forward and actually speak into the mic, which echoes in the venue around you, just like it would if you were really on stage. Then the curtain opens, and the crowd is staring at you, waiting to be entertained (some press at GDC actually said they felt a bit of stage fright when this happened). You look back at your drummer, he counts you in, and the song starts.

The actual song part of gameplay we showed at GDC was classic gameplay within VR, but there were still interactive elements to add immersion. Look at your bassist, she’ll dance over to you (as long as she isn’t singing along). Get too rowdy with your guitar motions, you’ll knock the mic stand. There are also look-activated flash pots on the stage, to shoot off fireworks.

Some of this was included just for the purposes of the GDC demo, as the game we’ll be showing later this year is a whole new mode specifically built from the ground up for VR. Beatmatching is still a key component of that for sure, but there’s a lot more to it than that, and you’ll see what I mean when we start pulling tipping our hand there.

In a nutshell, it’s just a totally different game. We still use the instrument, we still use songs, you’re still in a band on stage playing a rhythm game, but it’s not even close to just being “Rock Band 4 in VR”.

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