I figured that TA needed a review more focussed on the game itself rather that the expected patchlist of the game, so here it is:
At this point I have about half the achievements, played the game for a few days. My Xbox says I played around 30 hours with around 116 songs played. I have played almost every main music title between Rock Band and Guitar Hero with many hours dedicated to each, so I am pretty familiar with the franchise.
There are some points that will test your patience a bit in regards to backwards compatibility. It may even be good to give it a little time for them to iron out the kinks if you are frustrated easily if you have a ton of old content. I will go over some points that are notable in that aspect.
The game itself seems to work great, it hasn't strayed from the Rock Band formula. I noticed some little tweaks here and there that I enjoyed and some things missing, but overall the game is what you would expect if you have played any Rock Band in the past. It does a great job in giving you that rock star feeling as you build up your career.
The soundtrack is fine, that is always subjective, but a strength to the game is the ability to add literally thousands of songs to your library. Most purchases made on the 360 can be acquired on xb1 for free if it is listed in the store, and they have noted they are working to get the rest added.
There are three main modes: Quickplay, Play a Show, and Career. The career is well done, more along the lines of what Rock Band 2 offered with more choices that will influence whether you are going for fans, money or style. It doesn't have the goal oriented way of collecting those items like Rock Band 3 did. Career mode has encores and requests you can elect to do for extra fame(and achievements). The more you collect, the more areas it opens up. The 'Play a
Show' is like a multisong set of quickplay with the occasional request and encore thrown in that players can vote for. Quickplay is just standard quickplay, pick a song and play. You can do some basic sorting, but the comprehensive sorting Rock Band 3 had is gone(at least for now).
(edit dec 8)
They added a fourth mode called Brutal mode.
You don't have choice as to what level you play at, it is basically expert with a blank space leading up to your bar. You can see the notes before the blank space so you aren't totally on your own but you would still have to know the song fairly well to succeed. If you do not so hot, it make the blank space smaller, or if you do well it make the blank space bigger.
I play most guitar songs on hard so I found this a little overwhelming on guitar but I did ok on vocals. It doesn't blank out the words, but you have to know the song fairly well I think because you drop to red really fast. Songs I have gold starred in the past still were really tough and I failed some of them that I tried.
I think this mode will be interesting for the player who is looking to beef up the challenge, but it isn't friendly in terms of party style since you can fail fairly easily. You can't put no fail on either. It noted no freestyle guitar solos either.
(end dec 8 edit)
(nov 22 2016 edit Rivals has a new mode in it where you make a group with your friends and collect xp vs all other groups. xp is based on the songs you play and how you do. They have a theme basically once a week and you get bonus for playing those songs. This is not a synchronous mode, that is still coming December sometime. There is also a mode called rockumentary which is an alternative career mode of sorts where it tells a story of your rise 'behind the music' style.)
When playing songs on guitars, they have a new type of guitar solo that you can opt in or out of, where it has you strum certain patterns but doesn't tell you which buttons leaving you to make your own unique solo each time. I didn't find it overly hard, but I found I switched back to the classic solos due to it sounding better to me. When playing drums, there is a slightly different fill as well. For vocals on hard and expert, there is a freestyle thing added where if you have the pattern right, you don't have to necessarily hit the exact note, so it is a little more forgiving in that aspect.
(edit: I removed some discussion I had on how it worked with the preview program nxoe and the previous dashboard since that is no longer applicable. It works fine with the current dashboard which is nxoe for everyone now.)
One problem I did have with the rb4 guitar on the previous dashboard, and it seems to be a known issue being worked on, is that sometimes the guitar stops responding. So in the middle of the song, nothing except guide seemed to work. So it would fail the song, I would have to guide turn off controller, turn it on and it work again. I had enough of that after three songs, so I shipped it back and went to my local ebgames and bought the legacy kit off the shelf.
Edit: (If anyone has any comments about how the new instruments work with the current dashboard and iteration of the game, please feel free to drop a comment. Since I returned it, I have no first hand experience on how well the new instruments work at this time.)
In terms of the legacy kit, it worked fine. Was pretty simple to set up, and the instruments worked as well as they did on the 360. I have a little usb hub so I could plug the mic at the same time on the side port. If you aren't playing, the legacy adapter blinks non stop but you could always turn it or unplug it I suppose.
It is notable that if you want to go digital that the legacy adapters demand far exceeded supply, so you probably won't be able to get one for a while separately. I don't think the game deserves to be docked for that, but is notable for those interested in using their old instruments and aren't buying the legacy pack. Another review seemed to think it was a money grab, but I don't think that is the case, they probably just didn't want to get caught with too many if no one was interested.
(edit: as of this edit on Dec 8, the legacy adapter separately has availability on amazon.com. I don't see it on the Canadian version of the site, but other countries can order from amazon.com as well, so at least there is some availability now)
It is also notable that wired instruments are mostly not supported at this time. While I would like to see Ion support, I am not going to dock for that since it is debatable who should be supplying the drivers for third party hardware. Ion or MS should probably be the driver writers in the case of the ions. I imagine it will come eventually since PS4 does support Ions. For that matter, in regards to requiring the legacy adapter, we sort of paid for not having the dongles last gen that the playstation had.
(edit nov 22 2016: I had preordered the ion adapter from pdp and it arrived today. Ions work fine via that device. I see it is listed on amazon if you don't want to order direct)
I found the importing at this point to be kind of rough. There is a lot of bugs they are ironing out in terms of what is listing as purchased, showing up in the store, etc. If you know your collection, you pretty much have to click on each song, and at this point, some won't even say they are purchased, and if when you click on it you see it says you own it then you can install it. If it still says it costs money, I would just add it to the wishlist and let them sort it out, then grab it once it is fixed. They seem to be pretty active on fixing the marketplace glitches, so some will ultimately come later.(I didn't really expect their thousands of songs to all list smoothly going to a new generation, so that is where the patience comes in). Rock Band Blitz import is available now, but some other exports are not available yet.
(Edit Feb 13: RB 1, RB 2, Lego are added now. To import these go to your games and apps, press the menu button on rockband 4, then manage the game, go to the far right and you should see some ready to install stuff, you will need to hit install all more than once. These don't seem to show up in the Rock Band store like Blitz and RB3. Speaking of the store, it looks like it lists it more accurately now, so you don't have to click it to double check it anymore. If it says purchased, click it and buy it again for free and it should add it to your library for the songs that weren't in export packs. The metal track pack songs still list as unpurchased, so still waiting on those. )
(Edit May 31: I noticed another gig of songs in the ready to install area of manage games. Looks like ACDC and rock band 2 bonus songs. I also noticed in the regular rock band store that the doors pack I had-and had marked on my wishlist is now listed as purchased.)
Some stuff won't show up until they add support for it, and they have a fair amount to work through. They address a lot on their site, basically most will be coming, except Rock Band Network though some stuff like music with expired licenses or exports with more complicated situations may take some time.
Keep an eye on this thread as it lists songs they fix as well as has a spreadsheet for what is unsupported thus far, they appear to update the thread on Mondays but there is an occasional comment by a hmx employee in the thread. There is a comment in the thread itself that they have hit the character limit in first two posts, so it may be in your interest to peruse for hmx commenters now and then as well as downloading the spreadsheet every now and then: http://forums.harmonixmusic.com/discussion/260350/rb4-market...
(edit feb 13: they have a running spread sheet in google docs now that replace the one in the forum above: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1WrTWDspFPKJTFtkwhQmB...
If you need help tracking what you have, go to rock band 3 on your 360, sort by source, then take pics or use a site like dlcquickplay.com to log it. Hopefully they come up with a better solution in the near future.
(edit: I noticed recently, Oct 27, that when I went to programs and apps, and managed the game and went far right, it had some songs available for install that I had previously noted as listing as wanting money in the market. It looks it batches around 200 at a time, so you can try the install, but remember to go back there a few times after the downloads finish. I also noticed several I marked in wishlist were labelled as purchased where I could click and install would be a choice. Looks like Green Day export fixed for the most part now.)
I was reading the Harmonix boards and they seem to be actively trying to improve the game as well, listing off upcoming patches. There was a patch at the beginning of November and early December, so they seem committed to supporting it as a platform. Although it was indicated that simultaneous multiplayer was a very low use feature and polls indicated that it wasn't important, they indicated that will be added when they can.
If you weren't aware from the many announcements, keyboard and pro guitar/bass are not in
Rock Band 4, so if you feel like playing those, you may want to hold on to your 360 and jump back occasionally.
With all that in mind, my score is reflecting the game experience over most of the details that Harmonix is ironing out with Microsoft and/or mad catz supply chain. I would give the game a 4 out of 5. If you liked the past rock bands, they have improved it slightly while keeping true to the formula. If you give it a little time for the ironing of details, you will likely see many of the more frustrating import elements disappear. Once those elements disappear, and they add some of the stuff they are talking about, I would go likely up to 4.5 or even 5.
(edit: removed some notes on a sale that was on rock band store on 360 since the sale is now over)
It is notable that if you buy songs you only get it on both consoles by buying the song on the older generation, content purchased on xb1 stays on xb1. The newest songs, as of rb4 release are not on the old console at all.
It is notable that some of the older games will not export anymore if you buy them now.(this is not an issue with rb4, this is an issue with the older game no longer being supported).