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Rock Band Rivals (Online Quick Play) Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Rock Band 4's online mode is finally here ... and it kind of sucks. Don't get me wrong, I love having the option to play with my friends across the world, but I was completely taken aback by just how barebones the entire experience is. It works (most of the time), which is about the best thing I can say about a mode we've been wanting for more than a year. Here are some of the reasons why Rock Band's newest mode is a big disappointment. Rating: 50%
Rock Band Rivals (Online Quick Play)
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Rock Band 4's online mode is finally here ... and it kind of sucks. Don't get me wrong, I love having the option to play with my friends across the world, but I was completely taken aback by just how barebones the entire experience is. It works (most of the time), which is about the best thing I can say about a mode we've been wanting for more than a year.

Instead of just sitting by while my fake plastic guitar gently weeps, I've decided to compile a list of my issues with the brand new mode. Harmonix has always been a company that has listened to catered to their core audience, so I'm hopeful that the company will come through with updates and patches that build on the promise of online multiplayer. Let's start with my biggest complaint ...


No Matchmaking: After so many years of playing online games, I'll admit that I've taken the idea of matchmaking for granted. When Harmonix first announced the existence of online multiplayer, I didn't for a second consider that it wouldn't have a way to connect with fellow Rock Band fanatics. But lo and behold, it launched without any form of matchmaking. If you want to play the game with other people, then you better have a friends list filled with willing participants. Either that or scroll through the various forums and social media apps trying to make a Rock Band connection.

This is less than ideal, especially since matchmaking was a big part of both Rock Band 2 and 3. And that's a theme we'll see repeated throughout this list. Longtime fans were expecting to see the large and robust online modes we poured so many hours into over the last two games, and what we got was a huge step backwards. Without matchmaking, our online options are significantly more limited, to the point where a lot of gamers simply won't benefit from the mode.

One Player Per Console: It doesn't help that you can't mix local and online players. One of my favorite things about the last two Rock Band games is that you could bring in an online player to complete your band. Whenever I had a couple people over, we would get an internet friend involved to play drums or sing. This was especially good for families and couples, the kind of players Harmonix has been targeting since the first game back in 2007.

In its current state, you can only have one player per console. If your spouse, friends, roommates or even sworn enemy wants to go online while you're playing, then they'll need their game, another system and a bunch of the same DLC. This is completely impractical, and the way Rock Band 3 solved the problem was perfect. I'm not going to lie; sometimes I wish we could just go back to Rock Band 3.

Rock Band Rivals (Xbox One)Click For the Full Picture Archive

No Story Modes: One of my favorite things about Rock Band 4 is that it brought back the world tour, where your made-up band criss-crosses the globe earning money and fans. On a similar note, the Rockudrama story mode is easily one of the best things about the Rock Band Rivals expansion. Unfortunately, neither of these story modes is available for play online. If you want to go on a world tour or discover the different paths in the Rockudrama, then you'll need to take that offline. This sucks, and, once again, it's a big step backwards from what we had in previous iterations.

For whatever reason, the entire online multiplayer in Rock Band 4 is reduced to the Quick Play mode. While that sounds good at first, you'll quickly realize just how limiting it is. For one thing, each player will only be able to choose one song. This translates to only being able to play four songs in a row, and that assumes you have four people in your band. When I played with a friend, we were only able to create a two song setlist. We couldn't even play the new Lady Gaga three-pack all the way through, assuming that's something we wanted to do.

In my opinion, the story modes are among the best parts of Rock Band, and they are specifically designed to keep groups of all sizes playing random songs. We don't get any of that in the Quick Play mode. And if I can't gain fans and money online with friends, then I fear my world tour may have come to an end.

Optics: If you've watched either of my previous Rock Band 4 reviews, then you already know that I've had something of a love/hate relationship with Harmonix recently. I love Rock Band and want to support everything Harmonix does, but they continue to over-promise and under-deliver. And it's actually worse than that, because it never feels like we're getting the full story and are being purposely left in the dark.

Rock Band Rivals (Xbox One)Click For the Full Picture Archive

When Harmonix announced online play, they kept things purposely vague. They only started to mention the ugly details a week or two before launch, months after everybody had already bought Rock Band Rivals. Online play was a huge selling point for the expansion, and I have to wonder how people would have reacted if they knew going in that matchmaking was being ditched and you couldn't mix local and online players. These are things many people took for granted, since they were a staple of the last two Rock Band games. They saved the information for the very last second, creating a situation where their own fans feel duped.

And this is far from the first time. Harmonix didn't address the thousands of downloadable songs until a week before Rock Band 4 dropped, leading to a lot of confusion about what DLC would and wouldn't work. Even the promise of importing songs from the older Rock Band games took months to fulfill, only made worse by the radio silence from the developer. This is a problem that continues to plague Harmonix, and it seems like the one thing they are most in control of. I understand that adding matchmaking may require more money and people, but being completely upfront and honest with your audience is dirt cheap. When you hold the ugly details until a few days before release, it makes it look like you're purposely hiding something. Harmonix should have more faith in their audience.

Like I said at the top, I'm happy we finally have online play, even though it's far from perfect. I would like to believe this is just the first step, with Harmonix adding to the online mode little by little throughout 2017. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed and expectations realistic until I hear otherwise.
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