At first glance the changes in RockBand 3, out this holiday season, are a little yawn worthy. Vocal harmonies (introduced in Beatles and continued in Green Day), better party and in game people management (stolen from Guitar Hero 5), improvements to song filtering and management (already started with the latest patch) and a new instrument: a keyboard.
But if you dig in a little deeper you’ll find what Harmonix is calling “RockBand Pro”. It’s a new mode of play that allows you to still select a difficulty level but makes some subtle and not so subtle changes to actually teach you how to play real music on real instruments.
Vocals is a bit of a moot point. You’re already playing that on pro mode hitting pitches and some word detection.
Drums is already pretty close, the only difference is it will detect cymbals versus drum pads, making a yellow hi-hat explicitly different from a yellow tom.
Keyboard is a new thing and you can get the official 25 key instrument which covers c3 through c5 or plug in your own MIDI keyboard with an adapter.* So instead of “5″ keys (Green, Red, Yellow, Blue, Orange) you’re playing two full octaves. In other words really playing the notes of the song and the whole thing when you get into the Expert difficulty level.
But where it gets insane is the guitar.** You can either get a pro guitar controller that has ~170 buttons on the neck, one for each fret/string combination. Or just buy a Fender Squire Stratocaster, which is a real guitar that you can plug into an amp and everything. See the video in the previous post for a little “Button to Button” example.
So awesome, I may go back and pick up the piano and learn some guitar at the end of this year through a videogame.