When Rock Band 4 released on October 6, it felt incomplete and rushed. I believe that is fair to say since the available game modes were simply not that deep and the game was riddled with glitches. Over time, these glitches have been (more or less) addressed and the Rock Band Rivals expansion seems to have been made to address the lack of depth. Without focusing too much on how odd it is to sell game modes to people who have already bought your game and peripherals, I want to bluntly say that Rock Band 4 is not a platform sturdy enough to support such an expansion.
It has been stated that Harmonix would like Rock Band 4 to be a game players can play for years to come. This type of plan requires several types of update and near constant support. For me, Rivals took far too long to come out and doesn’t offer enough ‘out of the box’ to warrant such a large purchase. The Rivals expansion offers up a two new game modes while also promising access to future updates as they come out. The new game modes include the Rockudrama mode, which tells the story of your band, and the Rivals mode, which pits players against one another.
In Rockudrama, players are told that they will play the story or ‘their band’ through a sort of campaign mode. Unfortunately, every time a new playthrough is started, players are met with the exact same story with the same characters and the same dialogue. While I understand it is difficult to write a story that flows and changes to be personal to each player, it is inexcusable when 1/4th of the story is exactly the same no matter what players do. There are changes and what not, but they don’t feel different enough to matter.
To make these changes happen in the first place, players will be tasked with getting enough fame by earning stars and tackling challenges to get bonus fame. This makes plenty of sense and isn’t terribly surprising. Personally, I would have loved to see a new kind of ‘scoring system’ that might make the whole mode actually unique. Either way, the challenges available to the players include things such as wagering how many stars the player will end with and having to play the next set of songs as if playing on Brutal mode. For the uninitiated, Brutal mode shows players the notes for a short time before becoming invisible. This mode gets more difficult as players do better, making the notes invisible sooner and sooner. All in all, the Rockudrama mode should be fun for a single playthrough but not much more as the goofy charm quickly wears off.
The other mode made available through the expansion is the Rivals mode. In this mode, players will band together to create Crews in order to compete with other Crews. Since this mode is locked behind the expansion, I don’t see it working the way Harmonix wants it to for quite some time. It was also very difficult to truly review this mode as it is not only asynchronous, but I also could not get a Crew together to actually compete in any capacity. It seems like a single player could set scores for the various instruments on the different songs, but it would take quite a while. It certainly seems like this mode will be more for the hardcore rockers instead of the players that play Rock Band as a party game.
Since I got the expansion for review as a preorder technically, I was given 10 bonus songs. I enjoy most of these, but I did notice that it doesn’t seem like they will be available if players just buy the expansion separately (I could be wrong). Either way, the expansion doesn’t add any songs or give players any credit to buy any of the 1800+ songs in the store. Because of this, I cannot justify telling my friends to buy the expansion since they aren’t getting a whole lot right now. Maybe with the future updates, the Rivals expansion will be worth more, but for now it is simply two lackluster game modes and promises without any detail on what’s to come. I hope that these future updates change my mind later on, but I can’t say that I’m going to hold my breath.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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