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Everything You Need to Know About Rock Band 4

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School of Rock

Most games are simple. You put a disc in a slot or download a file, and boom, you’re off and playing. With peripheral-based games like Rock Band, setup can be a little complicated, especially when the developer is working to make nearly all existing content compatible with its latest title. That’s why we’ve assembled this handy FAQ, which covers everything from instrument backwards compatibility to transferring previously purchased DLC to exporting on-disc tracks from previous games. Still have questions? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll do our best get you the answers.

I played Rock Band on Xbox 360, but now I own a PS4. Can I still transfer all my old songs and use my old instruments?
Nope. Same if you played on PS3 and now own an Xbox One. There is no cross-console family compatibility of any kind, so you either need to start your Rock Band collection from scratch or go pick up a new console. Assuming you’ve stayed within the same console family, however...

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Can I play Rock Band 4 with my old instruments?
Most likely, but not in all cases. Peripheral manufacturer Mad Catz has assembled an easy-to-read chart that outlines which guitars work and which guitars don’t. This chart includes not only official Rock Band equipment but Guitar Hero and third party instruments as well.

A few models like Rock Band 3’s Fender Mustang Pro Controller and the high-end ION Drum Rocker kit are still in testing. These instruments could become usable following future updates, but that’s totally theoretical at this point. Other instruments--most notably Rock Band 3’s keyboard peripheral--will simply not be supported.

Two things the chart doesn’t cover: First, your wired PS2/PS3 instruments will most likely work, but there’s a strong chance your wired Xbox 360 guitars won’t. Second, Mad Catz’ last-gen cymbal add-ons will cooperate with Rock Band 4’s new drum set. Just plug them into the drum kit’s control console and you’re good to go.

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Okay, cool, my old instruments made the cut. How do I set them up?
If you’re using a PS4, simply plug the USB dongle that came with your wireless PS3 equipment into your console, add your instruments as bluetooth devices the same way you would a Dualshock 4, and you should be up and running.

Xbox 360 wireless instruments, on the other hand, didn’t come with a dongle, so you’ll need to pick up an Xbox Legacy Controller Adapter to enable backwards compatibility. Basically this dongle allows your old devices to communicate with your new console. All boxed retail copies of Rock Band 4 for Xbox One come with this adapter (hence the heftier $80 price tag).

The Band-In-A-Box and guitar/game bundles do not come with an adapter because Rock Band 4’s new gear does not require an adapter to communicate with your Xbox One. At the moment, you cannot buy a Legacy Adapter without also purchasing a copy of the game, but Harmonix has stated it will eventually sell standalone adapters for $25. You know, in case you prefer to download your games.

One important fact about the Legacy Adapter: it supports up to four instruments simultaneously. That means two guitars, a drum set, and a USB microphone can all connect to the same adapter.

I need new gear. What are my options?
You can scour the internet for classic instruments, or you can pick up a Band-In-A-Box bundle, which, in addition to a copy of the game, includes a wireless Fender Stratocaster guitar, wireless drum set, and wired USB microphone. You can also buy one Strat controller and a copy of the game together in a single package.

While Rock Band 4’s new gear looks and feels nearly identical to past gear, it is designed to function with the new game straight out of the box. No adapters, minimal hassle.

At the moment you cannot buy any standalone Rock Band 4 instruments, but Harmonix recently commented they plan to start selling individual instruments in early 2016. The only exception is Mad Catz’ cymbal pack, which is currently still available as a standalone product.

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I bought a ton of downloadable tracks for all the previous Rock Band games. How do I transfer those to Rock Band 4?
If you stayed within the same console family and still the use same account you had when you bought all those songs, the store should simply recognize which entitlements you already own and allow you to re-download those songs for free.The bad news is, you have to download each song individually, as batch downloading is apparently not possible at this time. The good news is, each legacy track that’s available in the store has been re-authored to accommodate new features unique to Rock Band 4 like Freestyle Solos.

Unfortunately, due to licensing restraints, some classic songs will not be available. We do not yet have a comprehensive list of DLC tracks that have been cut, but we do know more than 1,700 songs are set to arrive in the store over the next few weeks. Note that this process may take time, and while many tracks are already available, some are still working their way through the approval process, according to Harmonix.

If you’re having trouble or need step-by-step instructions, check here for help.

A few more facts about DLC: All Rock Band Network songs are out since they were never officially licensed and Microsoft’s XNA tools are no longer supported. If you don’t plan on upgrading to Rock Band 4, you can still purchase already-released songs for 360 and PS3. However, all upcoming DLC will only be available for Rock Band 4. For reference, songs generally cost $1.99.

Harmonix has stated they’re working on a way to allow players to export Rock Band 3’s on-disc songs, but no official solution has been announced.

I have a big stack of old Rock Band games. How do I export the on-disc tracks so I can play them in Rock Band 4?
If you have not yet exported the on-disc music from Rock Band 2, LEGO Rock Band, or Green Day: Rock Band, you’re probably out of luck. You can still pay a small fee to export tracks from Rock Band 1, while Rock Band Blitz still allows you to do it for free, but the export keys for the other three have all expired. Yes, licensing agreements are a real bummer.

Harmonix has indicated certain tracks from these discs may become available as individual downloads in the store, but there’s no telling whether or not that will actually happen. Harmonix has also stated they’re working on a way to allow players to export Rock Band 3’s on-disc songs, but no official solution has been announced yet.

Fortunately, you should be able to download any on-disc content you previously exported once the Rock Band store has fully updated. Same goes for any disc-based Track Packs you still have. The one big exception to all this is The Beatles: Rock Band, which is not available now and, most likely, will not become available at any future date.

If you have any other questions, please post them in the comments. In the meantime, don’t forget to calibrate!

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Scott Butterworth

Yes, his mother is Mrs. Butterworth.

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