250px-Rb3 box art

Rock Band 3 is an upcoming rhythm video game, and the third main game in the Rock Band series. As with previous games in the series, Rock Band 3 allows players to simulate the playing of rock music and other genres using special instrument controllers mimicking lead and bass guitar, drums, and vocals. Rock Band 3 expands upon previous games by including three-part vocal harmonies, previously used in The Beatles: Rock Band and Green Day: Rock Band, and support for a keyboard instrument; Harmonix will be providing a MIDI-compatible 25-key unit with the game. Rock Band 3 will also feature a new "Pro" mode, which are designed as a learning tool to accurately mimic playing of real instruments: guitar and bass players will have to match specific fingering on frets and strings, drummers will have to strike cymbal pads in addition to snare and toms, and keyboardists will use precise fingering across the whole keyboard. MadCatz and Fender will be manufacturing controllers and add-ons to support the Pro mode.

The game disc will include 83 songs, many designed to emphasize the keyboard instrument. Existing game content, including downloadable content and songs from the Rock Band Network, will carry forward into Rock Band 3, with the full Rock Band library expected to be more than 2000 songs by the end of 2010. Rock Band 3 is designed to take advantage of players' existing libraries by providing user-created set lists and challenges and tools to easily search and select songs from the library.

Rock Band 3 will ship worldwide between October 26 and 29, 2010 in North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii consoles; a Nintendo DS version is also being developed.


Rock Band 3 allows for several players, locally or through online game services, to use various instrument controls to simulate the playing of music. In addition to the four instruments from previous Rock Band games—lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, and vocals—Rock Band 3 adds support for three additional players, two through backup vocal harmonies with the lead singer (a feature previously introduced in The Beatles: Rock Band), and one playing an electric keyboard.

The overall goal of the collective band is to successfully complete a song by using their controllers to strike correct notes in time with note tracks shown on the game screen; or, in the case of the vocalists, to sing in relative pitch to the original artist. Each player has a performance meter, which increases when correct notes are hit and falls when notes are missed; a band performance meter represents an average of all players. If a player's meter should drop to zero, that player will temporarily drop out, silencing their part, and the band's performance meter will start to drop. If the band's meter hits zero, the band will fail the song and be required to start over. A dropped player can be saved up to two times by the use of "Overdrive" collected by any other player. Overdrive is collected by correctly matching a series of specially marked notes. Certain sections of songs provide "unison moments" where if all players successfully complete the section, they will all get a boost of Overdrive. Overdrive is triggered through various means on the controllers: by tilting the guitar controller vertically briefly, striking a specific drum pad at an indicated time, hitting a controller button on the keyboard, and making a loud noise during marked sections for vocalists.

Prior to a song, each band members selects from one of four difficulty levels, Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert, which influence the number and rate that notes appear on the note track. As the band performs, they score points. Subtle changes have been made to tracking of fast-moving parts such as trills, tremolo picking, and drum rolls, rewarding playing for being exactly on cue but not penalizing for small differences. Each player can build up a multiplier by hitting consecutive notes correctly, up to a 4x value except in the case of the bassist who can go up to 6x through "bass groove". Overdrive can be unleashed separately by each player to temporarily boost a band multiplier by 2x, with potentially up to a 10x multiplier if each part triggers Overdrive. After successfully completing a song, the band is rated on a 5-star scale based on pre-determine scoring values. A "5 gold star" rating can be earned if the entire band is playing in Expert mode and their score well exceeds the required score for a normal 5 star performance.

Rock Band 3 adds support similar for a keyboard player, and introduces an official 25-key keyboard controller designed for the game. Players will need to strike notes and chords, marked to specific keys on the display, to score points. In normal play, the keys are split into 5 groups, corresponding to colored notes on screen. The player must strike any note within the group as indicated on screen to match the note, similar to the present mechanism for playing guitar, bass, and drums. Overdrive is launched by pressing a special button on the controller. A touch-pad in the handle of the unit functions as a pitch wheel, providing for a whammy bar-type effect on sustained notes.

The game features a more in-depth career mode; players will be able to design more detailed characters, and will appear nearly at all points alongside the narrative, making the game "one story of your band", according to Harmonix senior designer Dan Teasdale. The career mode includes over 700 career goals, similar to Xbox 360 Achievements or PlayStation 3 Trophies, to help continue to urge the players to progress in the game.[7] "Road challenges" combine features of the Tour mode of Rock Band and Rock Band 2 with Mario Party concepts, according to Teasdale, and is based on feedback from Rock Band players. For example, the band may be challenged to re-invigorate the virtual crowd using copious amounts of Overdrive after they were disappointed by an opening act, or in another challenge, the band will be required to play as accurately as possible for a crowd of critics.

Players will have better tools to sort though songs to help manage a song library that is expected to be larger than 2000 songs by the end of 2010. Players will be able to rate songs from 1 to 5 "lighters"; players will be able to sort on these, and ratings will be considered in the selection of songs for random setlists, with higher-rated songs appearing more frequently. The rating will also allow Harmonix to suggest new songs to players in the Rock Band store . Players will also be able to create, save, name, and design art for custom set lists. The "Battle of the Bands" mode featured in Rock Band 2, in which Harmonix created daily and weekly themed challenges based on the library of songs, will extend into Rock Band 3, but allowing players to create the challenges themselves from the game's official website and advertise them through social media services like Twitter and Facebook.

The playing modes will be wrapped in an "overshell", which allow for players to sign in or out of game console profiles, manage players in the band, and jump in or out of the game with any available instrument at any point, including while playing a song.

Pro ModeEdit

Rock Band 3 introduces a "Pro" mode, which is aimed to provide a more realistic playing experience by requiring more exacting playing of guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard. For Pro guitar and bass, a special controller will be required that has the ability to track fingering on specific frets either as fret buttons or strings, and will present this for on-screen feedback to the player. On screen, single notes are represented by a number, representing the fret on the guitar, over a single string. Chords are represented by solid bars that mimic waveforms. The base position for the player's hand on the fretboard is given by a number on a specific string. The shape of the bar over the other strings provide relative fret positions for the player's hand on the controller. Chord names are shown at the side of the track, approaching the appearance of a guitar tablature. The game will adjust which frets to use depending on which Pro model guitar is used. For Pro drums, a three cymbal set is added to the core drum kit; notes on screen will be marked to indicate a cymbal hit instead of a drum hit. Pro keyboard utilizes all 25 keys of the new unit. The on-screen display only shows about three-fifths of the keys available, but arrows will flash on the track ahead of position shifts when the octaves change.

Pro mode players will still be able to select difficulty levels; one can play Pro mode on the "Easy" difficulty level, which reduces the number of notes to hit, but still would require proper fingering or hitting the correct cymbal. The progression of difficulties in Pro mode is aimed to help the player become familiar with the new playing style. For example in Easy Pro guitar, the player may only be required to finger single notes, while Medium will introduce chords. The Pro mode is available across all game modes, and is selectable at the same time as when selecting the desired difficulty and handedness for the instrument. Pro players can play alongside normal mode players in any game mode. Harmonix has authored previous downloadable content since the release of Rock Band 2 with the necessary cues for cymbal strikes, allowing most existing songs to be immediately playable in Pro mode for drums. However, the interaction of older downloadable content with other new features in Rock Band 3 has yet to be determined.

Instrument ControllersEdit

In April 2010, Harmonix and game controller manufacturer Mad Catz entered a multi-year deal to allow Mad Catz to produce and sell its controllers alongside the Rock Band games.[12] Mad Catz will be producing a new guitar controller, based on the Fender Mustang for the game's Pro mode, where instead of five colored buttons, there will be 6 buttons across 17 different frets, for a total of 102 buttons; the player will be required to strike the corresponding buttons on the right frets similar to guitar strings.

A second guitar controller will be made with Fender in the style of a Squier Stratocaster, featuring six strings instead of fret buttons. The instrument is a true electric guitar with MIDI support, playable outside of the game, but features additional electronics that are able to detect where the player is holding down strings. A demonstration of the unit at the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo shows the Fender guitar controller being played directly through an electric amplifier alongside other players on the other controllers while playing the game.

MadCatz will also produce the new keyboard controller. The keyboard features 25 full-sized keys, and is MIDI compatible, allowing it to be used outside the game. The controller resembles a keytar with a handle to one side and the ability to attach a guitar strap to wear the unit. Optionally, the unit can be placed on a horizontal surface and played in that fashion.

MadCatz has already produced a three-cymbal add-on set for Rock Band 2 drum kits, but will introduce a new wireless version with the release of Rock Band 3.

Any USB-compatible microphone can be used for the vocal parts. A USB hub can be used for up to three microphone players. Rock Band 3 does not require the vocalists to be signed in on the console's systems; this allows Rock Band 3 to surpass the usual limit of four local players that exists on the Wii and Xbox 360. Vocal harmonies cannot be performed by separate players over networked connections due to latency issues. Pitch correction technology developed by iZotope will be integrated into the game, allowing vocalists to add effects to their vocal performances within the game.

All existing Rock Band and other compatible controllers will continue to work for all game modes beyond the Pro mode. Guitar controllers can be used to play non-Pro keyboard parts, while the keyboard controller can also be used to play non-Pro guitar/bass parts. A special MIDI adapter, also made by MadCatz and sold separately, will allow players with existing MIDI-compatible keyboards or drums to use them within the game.

Nintendo DS versionEdit

The Nintendo DS version of Rock Band 3 follows the gameplay format of Rock Band Unplugged for the PlayStation Portable or the Nintendo DS version of Lego Rock Band. There are no special instrument attachments; instead, gameplay is designed around matching notes using the face buttons on the DS. Each of the 25 songs, a subset of the songs available on the Rock Band 3 disc for other consoles, are presented as a set of four tracks, one for each instrument, with the player able to move between them. To perform well, the player must move between tracks using the shoulder buttons and succeed to match a phrase of notes using the face buttons of the controller in order to boost the band's performance meter. The player can fail a song if they cannot match notes correctly, or by ignoring a single track for too long. The DS version includes a single-player career mode and both cooperative and competitive play modes.


Despite previous success of rhythm games, the genre as a whole saw nearly a 50% drop in revenues in 2009; sales of top-tier titles The Beatles: Rock Band and Guitar Hero 5 were significantly off from initial projections. Part of this has been attributed to the late-2000s recession limiting new purchases, but other analysis have speculated that consumers had grown tired of purchasing new iterations of instrument controllers for the same gameplay. Harmonix, in designing Rock Band 3, sought to capture the playing experience that "really started this whole phenomenon in the first place", according to project director Daniel Sussman. Harmonix's CEO, Alex Rigopulos, stated that "Our ambition for Rock Band 3 was really to re-energize and reinvigorate the (music game) category and advance it and move it forward." In introducing the game to journalists at a closed media event about a month prior to the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Harmonix called Rock Band 3 a "disruptive title" for the music game industry. Another aspect that Harmonix considered was "a ground-up rebuild of the Rock Band platform" and how players could interact better with the game and music library, according to Sussman.

Harmonix included the keyboard controller to help address these goals. The keyboard functionality was "designed basically to answer that staleness factor" that has been seen in music games, as said by Sussman. The team also included the "pro" mode to help invigorate existing players to give them new challenges, aimed at those that "had any aspirations of connecting with the music in a deeper way", according to senior designer Sylvain Dubrofsky. Sussman commented that the combination of existing and new gameplay modes provides "an experience that is both accessible to players who are just getting into this thing, and builds something for the hard-core player who is maybe a little bored with where music games are".


Rock Band 3 will be distributed by Electronic Arts after the two companies reached a continued agreement for distribution of the series, which was initially set to expire in March 2010, with the final EA-distributed title to have been Green Day: Rock Band.

A pre-E3 event occurred on May 20, 2010, to provide exclusive coverage of the game to selected gaming journalists, who would remain under news embargo until June 11, 2010, just prior to E3. The first evidence that Rock Band 3 would include keyboards came from a teaser image for the game in the Green Day: Rock Band demo, released in late May 2010; the image showed 5 icons, 4 representing the existing instruments in the game and the fifth showing a keyboard layout. Ars Technica claimed via a mole, that the unit would be a "keytar", and the inclusion of the Pro modes. Ars Technica later claimed that Harmonix requested to have the article removed due to the embargo, and insisted that the unit should not be referred to as a "keytar". Ars Technica further commented that while other gaming sites had to wait until June 11th when the embargo was lifted, USA Today was able to reveal their stories the day before, scooping the other sites who had originally remained quiet on Ars Technica's story for fear of breaking the embargo.

The 2010 E3 Game Critics Awards awarded Rock Band 3 for the "Best Social/Casual Game", and included both the new keyboard and the Pro guitar peripherals as "Best Hardware" nominees. The game was also awarded the title of "Best Music Game" as well as being nominated for "Most Innovative" by GameTrailers.


The full soundtrack for Rock Band 3 will feature 83 songs, including a mix of tracks that will make use of the new keyboard peripheral. Existing content for other Rock Band games, including on-disc songs, downloadable content, and songs from the Rock Band Network will be playable in Rock Band 3. In particular, Rock Band Network songs will not be as restricted as they currently are in Rock Band 2, and can be used in random setlists, challenges, and customized setlists. Downloaded content released after the release of Rock Band 3 will no longer be compatible with previous games in the series due to changes in the song format.

The Nintendo DS version of the game will feature a 25-song subset of the consoles' setlist.

Song title Artist Decade
"Been Caught Stealing" Jane's Addiction 1990s
"Bohemian Rhapsody" Queen 1970s
"Break On Through (To the Other Side)" Doors ! The Doors 1960s
"Combat Baby" Metric 2000s
"Crazy Train" Ozzy Osbourne 1980s
"Crosstown Traffic" Jimi Hendrix Experience ! The Jimi Hendrix Experience 1960s
"Dead End Friends" Them Crooked Vultures 2000s
"Get Free" Vines ! The Vines 2000s
"Here I Go Again" Whitesnake 1980s
"I Love Rock 'n' Roll" Joan Jett and the Blackhearts 1980s
"In the Meantime" Spacehog 1990s
"Just Like Heaven" Cure ! The Cure 1980s
"Lasso" Phoenix 2000s
"Me Enamora" Juanes 2000s
"Oh My God" Ida Maria 2000s
"Plush" Stone Temple Pilots 1990s
"Portions for Foxes" Rilo Kiley 2000s
"Rainbow in the Dark" Dio 1980s
"Roundabout" Yes 1970s
"Sister Christian" Night Ranger 1980s
"The Hardest Button to Button" White Stripes ! The White Stripes 2000s
"The Power of Love" Huey Lewis and the News 1980s
"Walkin' on the Sun" Smash Mouth 1990s

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