Rock Band 4 hits stores on October 6th, bringing back the fables series, and the music genre that has been in hibernation for over five years (Rocksmith and a few others notwithstanding). You can read all about the game itself in our comprehensive review.
While the game will work with all of your old instruments, Harmonix and Mad Catz have teamed up to create a new set of plastic instruments for you to rock out with. We got a significant amount of hands-on time with these new instruments, thanks to the Rock Band 4 Band In-A-Box edition, which comes with all you need to get the party going. You can check out our unboxing video below to get a good look at the new instruments featured with the game, and keep reading to hear our thoughts on these new instruments.
The Rock Band 4 Band In-A-Box comes with a guitar, a USB microphone, and a set of drums, along with the accessories needed to make it all function. The package itself is great, keeping everything well-organized and in some pretty safe packaging. I wouldn’t expect any broken instruments disappointing fans.
The instruments themselves follow a similar mantra as the main game, which was “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Little has been altered between these, and even the first set of instruments offered with the Rock Band series. However, the years of experience with these sorts of things does show through, just in smaller ways.
The guitar is light and comfortable, never straining the player. The soft strum bar works well, without any clickiness that might break the illusion of being a rockstar that the game works so hard to maintain. It is still made out of plastic, so it can feel a bit cheap at times, but the overall build quality is above par for what we’ve seen from this genre.
Little needs to be said about the microphone, as it is a pretty standard USB device. A long cord is very much appreciated, allowing the singer to walk around as needed, and preventing any tripping hazards during play. In the game, the microphone works well, never seeming to cut out, or not pick up the right audio. With the cacophony surrounding the singer it would be easy for a cheap microphone to screw things up and not grab the right vocals, but the Rock Band 4 Band In-A-Box microphone performs admirably.
The drums seem to have had the most improvement, and they are quite stellar. Going back to the Rock Band 1 set that I had sitting in my garage, I remembered how loud those used to be, with the sound from the drums occasionally drowning out the other players, as well as the game itself if you didn’t have a capable sound system.
The Rock Band 4 Band In-A-Box drums have a nice give to them, sensing each hit while dampening the sound at the same time. In the center, as you can see in the video, are rubber pads that are especially soft. If you are a capable enough drummer to have your sticks hit these each time, the rest of the band will hardly notice that you’re offbeat, as usual.
Overall the Rock Band 4 Band In-A-Box set is great for anyone that doesn’t have their old instruments, or never had a set of their own. For those that still have theirs lying around, it might not be fully worth the upgrade, as Harmonix has been generous enough to ensure support for almost all previous instruments. However, outside of the specialty devices that have sprung up from third party manufacturers, these are easily some of the best instruments one can find for the Rock Band series.