Last week, Harmonix sent out a pretty major software update for Rock Band. Most of the gaming blogs I've read have focused on how great the new online music store is, but have glossed over or completely ignored what I think is the real news in this update: Harmonix has address and fixed two issues that almost broke the game for many players.
When I wrote my Rock Band review for the Geek in Review last year, I said:
To unlock new venues, your band must amass a certain number of fans. The number of fans you gain each gig is determined by the difficulty level of each member of your band, so you reach “fan caps” where the game comes to a halt until you can successfully play at a higher difficulty level. For some players, this isn’t bad at all, and is a good motivator to try harder levels. For casual players, though, it totally sucks. I know plenty of people who love to play on Hard, but have no interest in playing on Expert. The way I understand this, unless Harmonix removes the fan cap (which I think they’ll have to do, eventually) some people won’t ever be able to experience the entire game. That’s just fucking retarded. Not everyone wants to play the game on Hard or Expert settings, and preventing those people from enjoying the game the same way Hard and Expert players do is stupid and wrong.
There is an even bigger problem, though, that almost breaks the game for me: it’s infuriatingly repetitive in multiplayer career mode, especially at the beginning. As you advance through different cities and unlock new gigs, you’ll be faced with challenges, where the audience randomly picks songs for you to play. The RNG that decides the songs is thoroughly fucked, and frequently results in forcing you to play the same song three times in 30 minutes. If it’s a song you love, not such a big deal; but if it’s a song you hate – like Wanted, Dead or Alive, for instance – you’re screwed. If you’re trying to introduce new players to the game who are used to Guitar Hero’s “one and done” approach to playing songs, it can be a massive turn off.
The new online store is great and all, but I don't know why more gaming blogs and media haven't made this front-page news: Harmonix has fixed the stupid fan cap, and they've made the game much less repetitive in World Tour mode.
Check it out:
Revised Fan Caps: To allow Easy, Medium, and Hard players to progress further in the Band World Tour, we’ve increased the number of fans that you can earn before hitting the cap. Easy players can now travel across the Atlantic, Medium players have a wider range of venues they can play at, and Hard players on the Xbox 360 are now able to unlock the “One Million Fans” achievement.
More diverse songs in Band World Tour: If you’ve ever cursed about having to play “Say it Ain’t So” or a Metallica track multiple times in the same hour, then you’ll be glad to know that we’ve tracked down and fixed the issues that triggered these very repetitive moments in Band World Tour.
Awesome and awesome. Thank you, Harmonix! I think my bands, Zombitis and Mr Snüggles, are about to hit the road again.