Rock Band 4 made me forget that I suck at rhythm games

Freestyle solos are way too much fun

[Disclosure: Nick Chester, who is currently employed at Harmonix, previously worked at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the preview.]

Rock Band 4 is spearheading the rhythm game revival and bringing some cool new features to the genre at the same time. The basic Rock Band experience remains the same; players can choose between using guitar, bass, drums, or a microphone to play their way through an ever growing library of songs. But new features like Freestyle Solos, shown off at PAX Prime, introduce an entirely new way to enjoy your favorite Rock Band songs.

Freestyle Solos in Rock Band 4 do away with the strict “press correct button, produce note” format favored by games in the past. Instead, players obtain the freedom to create whatever kind of sounds they want. Different strumming speeds, button changes, and strum directions all help dictate what the solo sounds like. During the solo itself, players are offered a bit of guidance on which note variations to use, but ignoring the prompts can still produce awesome-sounding riffs. 

During my time with the game I was perfectly content to just smash out different notes on the guitar and see what sounded best, but more skillful players should note that there is an art to creating solos. Switching notes at the right time or using certain strums with certain chords all create different and unique sounds. The notes themselves may change slightly to fit with the key of certain songs, but those patterns do not. With a little time and effort, players can figure out how to create specific tunes in Freestyle Solos and create their own finely crafted guitar solos from scratch.

Playing around with solos, both in the training modes and in actual songs, made me feel like I was actually good at the game. The half hour I spent with Rock Band 4 marked the most positive experience I’ve ever had with a music game of any kind. As someone who is chronically clumsy with any sort of rhythm game, this endorsement doesn’t come lightly. I can only imagine what some of those hardcore Rock Band players will be able to do with Freestyle Solos when the game releases for PS4 and Xbox One on October 6. 

Alissa McAloon