Rock Band 3's keyboard and 7-player mode revealed

Rock Band 3 and its keyboard peripheral have finally been unveiled in a video by USA Today. But while the game's improved story mode and new DLC organisation sound good, it's the keyboard that everyone's craning to see. And how good does it look? Judging by its keytar-style 'stand up or sit down' design, we wouldn't be surprised if we get a Jean Michel Jarre spin-off title real soon. Check out the video here:

One thing that's really crept up on everyone is that the game now supports seven players at once. Three-part harmony on vocals, plus guitar, drums, bass and keyboard. Sounds like a party if you ask us.

But how will the keyboard player be tinking those ivories? The prototype is much more professional looking than many expected, with two octaves' worth of keys. If you look closely at the unit, you'll notice the notes have coloured strips over them. We'd wager the easy setting will let you play any note within that range to trigger that colour's note on the screen.

Above: Senior Designer, Silvain Dubrofsky, with the prototype keyboard

As you move through the difficulty levels, you'll soon be switching octaves as you follow the on-screen colour prompts, until you're basically playing the actual keyboard part. In a way, it's a pity the peripheral has only 25 keys - an expert mode that lets you play the actual song, note for note would probably  sell a few thousand copies on its own from professional keyboard players who want a bit of excitement in their daily practice routines. Maybe there'll be support for full-size USB MIDI keyboards for the pros?

The keyboard has so many more applications than just playing along with songs in Rock Band. We can imagine a lot of devs looking very closely at how they could use it, if Harmonix allow it to be used outside of Rock Band circles. Imagine using it to easily create your own soundtracks in LittleBigPlanet2 or ModNation Racers. A multi-track MIDI-based music studio should be incredibly easy to implement in any creation-based game, even as DLC, and keyboard input is clearly the simplest method for MIDI creation.

This one might be bigger than we thought...

10 Jun, 2010


  • dunc12 - June 11, 2010 4:02 a.m.

    Oh man, this will be a must-buy for me It'll be interesting to see what they do with the rest of the setlist though reCAPTCHA: caboose races (lol)
  • theemporer - June 10, 2010 7:39 p.m.

    I'm happy we can take dlc back from the previous games. ReCaptcha: abysses difficulty Omg, new difficulty in RB!
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - June 10, 2010 6:43 p.m.

    maybe now they will include more muse songs
  • Shrimpandwhitewine - June 10, 2010 5:04 p.m.

    Oh my god I can't waaaaiiiitttt
  • loonyman978 - June 10, 2010 3:59 p.m.

    i cant believe im going to say this but... id love a Shakatak song.
  • frmonth - June 10, 2010 3:39 p.m.

    So will none keyboard songs include key board tracks and will DLC songs that have keyboard in be getting key board notes to play. Otherwise Harmonix will just be concentrating on getting loads of songs with keyboards in out on the DLC store.
  • flabslapper - June 10, 2010 2:22 p.m.

    The only two I ever bought were GH1 for PS2 and GH3 for the Wii, I've played them all, but they were just too expensive to buy all of them...but I am definitely getting this one for the keyboard! That keyboard is amazing!
  • ThatsWhatSheSaid - June 10, 2010 2:13 p.m.

    they should hold off on The Doors song and release a separate The Doors: Rock Band ....with the keyboard, that game is perfect for them, pretty much all their songs has blisteringly good keyboard. just to put one Doors song in is sacrilege
  • Apollomon - June 10, 2010 2:10 p.m.

    I always loved the keyboard so this may really make my day- one problem...the keyboard seems diddy and crap- a keyboard is huge and thats how i likes it...we will have to see about this...they did of course advitise it with a great band :D
  • chunko97 - June 10, 2010 1:20 p.m.

    I need more room if I'm going to get this game.
  • breener96 - June 10, 2010 1:09 p.m.

    I may actually consider buying this. The keyboard would've worked so well in The Beatles: RB, I wonder if they'll go back and put it in.
  • Gable - June 10, 2010 1:05 p.m.

    In A Gadda Da Vida. Period.
  • TURbo - June 10, 2010 12:42 p.m.

    2 octave keyboard is bullshit. That doesn't do many songs justice.
  • Killik_13 - June 10, 2010 12:29 p.m.

    @Seabread Absolutely, we need the entire FInal COuntdown album, I'd buy it! Also, I'd love to see some Nine Inch Nails, Bruce Springsteen, Prince and Rush. That'd make the game perfect for me.
  • ColonelKc - June 10, 2010 12:29 p.m.

    Well, when i used to play the piano i sucked. This might help......a little. reCAPTCHA: conference ridden
  • Seabread - June 10, 2010 11:51 a.m.

    Oh, and must have Europe songs! fuck JMJ. He's a French fraud.
  • Seabread - June 10, 2010 11:50 a.m.

    Stoked about the inclusion of keyboard. It's about time (but what about a choice for rhythm/lead guitar?) hope we get another code that rips tracks from RB2 so they're playable on this version too.

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