Rock Band VR, one the major exclusives to arrive on Oculus Rift's 2017 roster, is officially being released on March 23. Oculus, alongside Rock Band developer Harmonix, announced the official date early Monday, Feb. 6, while also opening preorders for the game, which will be bundled with the wireless Fender Stratocaster guitar for $69.99.
'Rock Band' Preorders Now Open
The guitar peripheral will be compatible with the PC-based Oculus Rift headset, alongside the Rock Band 4 game released in 2015 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, depending on whichever bundle the user ends up selecting.
The game, as per Slashgear, is an interesting translation of the classic Rock Band experience, putting players inside an immersive, fully encapsulating environment that ups the ante in a way that has never been possible before.
It's a major revamp of the popular rhythm game, this time putting more focus on improvisation instead of strict note-matching. Rock Band VR was announced late 2015, with Harmonix later showing a demonstration mid-2016, though at the time the title showed hints of its early development state.
More Immersive Than Past 'Rock Band' Entries
Oculus has provided more details about the Oculus Rift exclusive on its blog, including a stellar and sizable track listing, along with a "classic mode" that pulls back the game's original roots into the fore, with an aim to perfect a note-for-note simulation of an original studio recording. Rock Band VR offers something more nuanced and freeform, however, proffering players ample leeway to stylize notes.
How The Fender Stratocaster Guitar Will Work With The Oculus Touch Controllers
As for the requirements, players will need an Oculus Rift headset, of course, a Rift-ready PC, and the Oculus Touch controllers, which will aid the bundled guitar's transition into VR — players will affix one of them into the accessory with a small connector, which is included in all Oculus Touch units.
"To bring the experience of Rock Band into VR, we had to completely reinvent our core gameplay — and it ended up totally exceeding our expectations," said Greg LoPiccolo, the game's Creative Lead. "[Rock Band VR] feels more like the actual experience of being live onstage than anything I thought was possible."
Gamers will be dropped unto the stage alongside a full band. Once onstage, the music kicks off, with the guitar appearing in the game fully operational and in real time. The immersion appears to be the high point of Rock Band VR, apart form, of course, the actual gameplay.
The virtual in-game crowd, while only a few steps away from entering uncanny valley, respond and react to the player, which provides an eminently palpable sense of accomplishment, given that there's more than a coterie juking to the player's guitar session.
Rock Band VR is now available for preorder for $69.99. Oculus advises players to pick one up fast, as quantities are limited. Bundles are expected to be shipped alongside Rock Band VR's release date, which is March 23.
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