You know the drill: you've got some friends over, perhaps you've enjoyed a couple of adult beverages, it's getting dark -- time for some Rock Band. Yeah, it's great fun to pick some songs and tear into them, but, in a way, there is nothing at stake. Wouldn't it be better if your multilplayer party was more like Tour Mode? In Rock Band 3, it is.
Dubbed Road Challenges Mode, this addition to the Rock Band multiplayer formula is all about setting you and your friends up for a rocking good time. From the game's official website:
"Road Challenges Mode is a brand new, party-centric mode for Rock Band 3. It combines the simplicity of Quickplay and the narrative scope of the Tour mode (from previous Rock Band games) with a few unique twists."
Road Challenges Mode is like a bite-sized version of Tour Mode. You'll play a series of gigs at a number of different venues, moving up the Rock and Roll food chain as you go.
With ten different Road Challenges in the game, sorted by length and difficulty, everyone should be covered. Got a half and hour and some friends who have never seen a plastic guitar before? There's a Road Challenge for that. Got a couple of hours and some friends who are virtual virtuosos? There's a challenge for that, too.
Once you've picked your Road Challenge, it's time to choose a setlist. To keep things flowing smoothly, Harmonix has included three options for every gig: ready-made setlists, random setlists, and custom setlists.
The ready-made lists include Rock Band 3's on-disc songs, presented in order of difficulty. The random list is pretty much what you'd expect, though it chooses songs with a common theme (all alternative, only songs from the 70s, etc.) and includes all your DLC. Custom lists use the same sort of themes as random lists, but enable players to pick and choose which songs to play.
Now here is where things get really interesting. You see, there is more to the Road Challenges than just picking a setlist and trying to make it through to the end. Traditionally, Rock Band has been all about trying to earn as many stars as possible on each song. In Rock Band 3's Road Challenges mode, you'll also be earning spades.
You'll nab a spade for each star you earn, but there are bonus spades to be earned, as well. Each gig will have a unique set of gameplay objectives beyond merely finishing the set. Nail those objectives, and you'll rack up the spades. Harmonix has detailed a few of the bonus objectives -- take a look:
* "Overdrive Overdose." Earn your bonus by deploying Overdrive as many times as possible. It doesn't matter how long each Overdrive deployment lasts - the greater the number of Overdrive deployments, the larger the bonus.
* "Streakmania." Build your bonus with each streak of notes (or vocal phrases) achieved by any member of your band. Consecutive streaks grow the bonus at an even faster rate.
* "Share the Spotlight." Band members take turns performing "in the spotlight." When you're in the spotlight, you're under pressure to achieve a note (or vocal phrase) streak. Doing so hands off the spotlight to another band member. Your bonus grows with each successful hand-off.
* "All for One." If all band members play with high accuracy within a song section, your bonus increases. But if even one member fails to make the cut, then no bonus is gained - you'll have to try again in the next song section.
* "Overdrive Streak." Here, you're rewarded for using Overdrive without breaking streak. The more notes (or vocal phrases) you can streak while deploying Overdrive, the bigger the bonus.
* "Overdrive Chain." This one's about deploying Overdrive for as long a time as possible. Band members can extend their Overdrive time by "chaining together" deployments - so long as one or more players is deploying, the chain continues to build. Longer chains translate to bigger bonuses, so coordinate with your band to time your deployments appropriately.
And that's not even all of them. Tweaking the goals for the songs is going to add an enormous amount of replay value to this mode -- and replay value isn't exactly something Rock Band has traditionally come up short on.
With Rock Band 3, Harmonix has already changed how you're going to play the game. They've changed the instruments you are going to use. They've even changed the way you're going to sing. And now they've changed they way you'll play with friends.
I've said it before: I'm all the way on board with this one. When I think about Rock Band 3, I literally forget about the other games coming out the rest of the year. I can't even imagine what else Harmonix has managed to pack into the game, and I can't wait to find out.
Let's hear it -- what do you all think of Road Challenges Mode? Are you massively excited for Rock Band 3, or utlra-massively excited for Rock Band 3?
Rock Band 3 comes home October 26, 2010, for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, and DS.