Rock Band 4

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Rock Band 4 Game Poster Image
Rhythm game with some iffy lyrics fosters interest in music.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about music and rhythm while cooperating with one another in this compelling rock-band-simulation game. Players aren't taught how to play instruments, read music, or sing but will gradually get a good feel for how songs are constructed as they play and replay the same songs on the same instruments, seeing how sections repeat and mesh. They'll also improve their sense of rhythm along the way as they're forced to keep time with each note -- especially when playing the drums. If kids play as a band of between two and four players, they'll need to work together, earning rewards for playing in perfect harmony and saving each other by releasing their stored-up "star power" to bring back bandmates who've failed out during tricky sections. Rock Band 4 is designed as a game first, but it also helps develop an appreciation for music.

Positive Messages

May foster interest in rhythm, music. Creates, promotes a sense of camaraderie that comes with being in a band. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players can customize their musician, altering gender, skin color, style. A typical rock-'n'-roll lifestyle -- little money, late nights spent in clubs, beat-up band vans -- implied, if not always shown. Text between tour stops describes minor conflicts between band members with different goals.

Ease of Play

Tutorials lead players through new features, but the basics are pretty easy to pick up simply by playing. Range of difficulty levels should make most songs accessible to beginners, regardless of instrument they choose.

Violence
Sex

Customizable characters can be dressed in revealing outfits, including short skirts and scoop-neck tops. Some songs -- such as St. Vincent's "Birth in Reverse" -- reference sexual activity with words such as "masturbate."

Language

The word "ass" appears in text.

Consumerism

Players encouraged to spend more money on extra songs in online store.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some songs contain references to drugs, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd's "That Smell," which includes the line: "There's too much coke and too much smoke."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rock Band 4 is a music and rhythm game that lets players take on the roles of rock stars and pretend to play instruments, including a guitar, bass, and drums. Players can customize their character's gender, skin color, and style to have them better reflect their real-world selves. A rock-'n'-roll lifestyle is implied more than shown thanks to narrative text between tour stops that details the band's experience. Sexuality isn't visually depicted beyond some tight and skimpy outfits players can choose for their avatars, but the lyrics of some songs include reference to sexual acts such as masturbation as well as drugs. Keep in mind, too, that the cost of the game likely will grow well beyond the initial investment since players are encouraged to browse an online store and purchase more songs.  

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Written byAnonymous January 14, 2017

Bad language

In the songs and on screen some bad language appears. The game is good, however the language isn't.
Kid, 11 years old January 15, 2016

Fine except for language

Rock Band 4 a musical game that keeps kids playing music with drum pads, guitars with button frets, and the old microphone so they can sing their heart out. The... Continue reading

What's it about?

ROCK BAND 4, the first new game in Harmonix's rock-'n'-roll simulation series in five years, follows in the footsteps of its predecessors by giving players a chance to play in a four-piece band composed of guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. The plastic instruments (sold separately, unless you get the guitar or band-in-a-box bundle) are designed to replicate the experience of playing a real musical instrument. Guitar and bass players follow a set of scrolling on-screen cues telling them which fret buttons to press and when to strum; drummers follow similar cues indicating which drum pads to hit; and vocalists simply get to karaoke each song. A tour mode allows players to create avatars and head out on the road, playing sets in venues around the world to gain fans and earn more money with which to purchase cooler clothes and instruments. Outside of the tour mode, players can perform one-off shows picking songs as they go or experiment with guitar solos in a new solo mode.   

Is it any good?

This sequel is both a slightly improved and a scaled-back version of the franchise's well-established formula. The previous games' splashy, movie-like cinematics are largely absent, but the venues are more detailed and have better lighting and smoke effects than past games. There's no longer any online multiplayer modes, but the core local multiplayer tour mode has been tweaked in meaningful ways, allowing band members to vote on set lists and make important decisions that will affect the band's evolution. There aren't any new instruments, and the keytar from Rock Band 3 is missing, but subtle enhancements to what remains are boons; they include an enhanced solo mode that empowers players to customize their solos with speedy licks and drawn-out notes.

It's also important to note that Rock Band 4 has been envisioned not only as a numbered sequel but also as a platform that will evolve over several years. That means players can expect additions to the core game, such as new modes, new music, and perhaps even support for new instrument hardware. And keep in mind that much of the music and instruments you may have purchased for previous installments will transfer to this edition, so long as you stick with the same platform family (if you played previous Rock Band games on Xbox, make sure you get the Xbox One edition of Rock Band 4; ditto for the PlayStation versions). The initial offering may be a little lean around the bones, but it lays a solid foundation for growth over time. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen time. Have you noticed changes in your kids' mood or behavior when they become obsessed with new games? What sort of physical activities do they enjoy that might be used to balance their time spent in front of screens?

  • Talk about music. Is there an unusual or quirky instrument you’d like to learn to play? How might it fit into a rock or pop band? 

Game details

  • Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Subjects: Arts: music, rhythm, singing
    Hobbies: fashion
  • Skills: Creativity: making new creations
    Communication: friendship building
    Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
  • Price: $59.99-249.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid (Cost depends on whether you purchase the game alone, with a guitar, or with a guitar and drums. Note that guitar and drum peripherals from previous Rock Band games within the same console family are compatible with Rock Band 4.)
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Harmonix
  • Release date: October 6, 2015
  • Genre: Music and Dance
  • Topics: Music and Sing-Along
  • ESRB rating: T for Lyrics

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love music and rhythm

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