Rock Band 4 is difficult enough when seeing the notes. Now Brutal Mode will make things even tougher.
Harmonix has been fairly quiet about their upcoming December 8th Rock Band 4 content patch, outside of the fact that you will be able to export your Rock Band 3 disc tracks for a small licencing fee. Even though Harmonix is looking ahead to the future of Rock Band, that doesn’t mean they’re not adding cool features and gameplay functionalities. That’s why, as part of IGN First, we learned that Brutal Mode will also be added as a new gameplay difficulty to Rock Band 4. Not only that, but we got to see how it works in action.
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Nobody can say that the name isn’t apt, because the Rock Band 4 Brutal Mode looks…well, brutal. Depending on how well you play the requested notes, there is a blue bar across your note highway that visually hides the notes beyond that point as it approaches its input at a button level. For example, if you’re currently playing perfectly, the notes will appear on screen for just a brief moment before they vanish, meaning you must both remember the notes ahead and prepare to play them in near perfect timing.
Worse yet, everyone must be on Expert difficulty, and everyone must use the Brutal Mode difficulty. It is either a single-player challenge or a full team effort, with even vocal notes disappearing (although, for logistical reasons, the lyrics remain). Because the mode is so challenging, Rock Band 4 is adding “Crimson Stars” for bands or artists that get the Gold Star equivalent for songs in Brutal Mode. Considering that you can’t use custom guitar solos to cheese your wait out of the more difficult solos, it is an accomplishment worth striving for.
Additional updates coming to Rock Band 4 next Tuesday include a variable breakneck speed (between 1-2.5x speed along the note highway), an online leaderboard that lets you know when you pass your friends in high scores on songs and a golden circle around the multiplier indicator to subtly let you know if you still have a full combo going.