Rock Band 3 New Features: Road Challenges

Road Challenges Mode is a brand new, party-centric mode for Rock Band 3.  It combines the simplicity of Quickplay and the narrative scope of the Tour mode (from previous Rock Band games) with a few unique twists.

As with the previous Tour Mode, you'll go from tiny clubs to huge arenas to outdoor festivals (a new type of venue in Rock Band 3).  But while the Tour Mode presented a single, sprawling campaign, this experience unfolds across ten concise Road Challenges.  They differ by duration and by difficulty level, so you have a variety of Road Challenges from which to choose.  If you and your friends are settling in for an evening of Rock Band 3, you can try the three-hour tour (hopefully, without getting stranded on a deserted isle in the process).  But even if you only have half an hour to play, there's a bite-sized Road Challenge you can finish in that time. 

Choose a Road Challenge screenshot

In each Road Challenge, your band plays a series of gigs in a variety of locations and venues.  By playing these gigs, your band collects spades – one for each star earned by playing a song.  But each song also provides an opportunity to earn bonus spades.  These bonus opportunities are expressed as gameplay objectives that vary from gig to gig.  Here are some examples:

  • "Overdrive Overdose." Earn your bonus by deploying Overdrive as many times as possible.  It doesn't matter how long each Overdrive deployment lasts - the greater the number of Overdrive deployments, the larger the bonus.
  • "Streakmania." Build your bonus with each streak of notes (or vocal phrases) achieved by any member of your band.  Consecutive streaks grow the bonus at an even faster rate.
  • "Share the Spotlight." Band members take turns performing "in the spotlight."  When you're in the spotlight, you're under pressure to achieve a note (or vocal phrase) streak.  Doing so hands off the spotlight to another band member.  Your bonus grows with each successful hand-off.
  • "All for One." If all band members play with high accuracy within a song section, your bonus increases.  But if even one member fails to make the cut, then no bonus is gained - you'll have to try again in the next song section.
  • "Overdrive Streak." Here, you're rewarded for using Overdrive without breaking streak.  The more notes (or vocal phrases) you can streak while deploying Overdrive, the bigger the bonus.
  • "Overdrive Chain." This one's about deploying Overdrive for as long a time as possible.  Band members can extend their Overdrive time by "chaining together" deployments - so long as one or more players is deploying, the chain continues to build.  Longer chains translate to bigger bonuses, so coordinate with your band to time your deployments appropriately.

Nailing a Road Challenge bonus

These gameplay variations are the most novel, unique aspect of the Road Challenges mode.  Our motivation was to inject new life into our core gameplay while keeping it familiar and uncomplicated.  In addition, the objectives had to support one to seven players while placing special emphasis on the cooperative band experience.  Further, we wanted to preserve the core scoring rules so that you could log leaderboard scores while playing Road Challenges mode, just as you normally would in Quickplay.  

We thought that the best way to approach these constraints was not by creating new sorts of non-standard notes or introducing power-ups to ratchet up your multiplier, but by creating objectives that deepen your understanding and engagement with existing parts of the core gameplay.  So, some objectives (e.g. "Share the Spotlight," "Overdrive Streak") reward you for performing under pressure; others ("Overdrive Chain," "All for One") emphasize teamwork and band communication; still others ("Streakmania, "Overdrive Overdose") explore the tension between deploying Overdrive and maintaining streak by encouraging one activity at the expense of the other.

After each song, a results screen displays how much each member contributed to the band's bonus, so you can see who's pulling their weight and who's falling short.  Though the mode is primarily cooperative, we wanted to foster a healthy sense of competition between band members - not unlike the dynamic that exists between members of real bands!

Road Challenge score screen

When you're setting up for your next gig, you'll be able to choose from a group of three setlists.  We wanted to provide a streamlined set of choices so as to keep the party flowing smoothly.  At the same time, we wanted to provide flexibility with a variety of setlists for different play preferences: 

  • Ready-made setlists allow you to play through the new Rock Band 3 disc songs in a difficulty-ordered way.
  • Random setlists assemble a grab bag of songs (including your downloaded songs) grouped by a common theme (e.g., songs from a single genre, decade, song source, or artist).
  • Custom setlists let you pick your own set of songs from a subset of your collection, determined by a common theme (just like random setlists).  The possibilities are limited so that setlist building is quick and painless - we know how things can stall when making selections from a library of potentially hundreds of songs.

As with all other components of the Rock Band 3 experience, everything you do within the Road Challenges mode is tracked by our Career system.  In playing through a Road Challenge, you'll complete Goals that further your band's Career and allow it to access new clothing items, instruments, and vehicles.  Vehicle upgrades, in turn, unlock new, more difficult Road Challenges for you to play.

Taken all together, the Road Challenges mode is a great way to play (and replay) Rock Band 3, especially in party situations.  Hope you enjoy it!


And also, it led to a lot of ruined parties - someone blows it and costs the band spades, and gets chewed out. Result: "Wah, I don't wanna play anymore!"

Pfft. The replay of these is like zero.