Rock Band Blitz debuted last week on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. For fans of plastic instruments, the game is a major departure for the series, and even as a long-time FreQuency player I found the lane-changing controller-based gameplay takes a little getting used to. Then there’s all the different power-ups to choose from and the integration with the Facebook app, Rock Band World. Luckily, Harmonix itself has offered up some of its best strategies to the GamesBeat community for dominating the score charts.
Check out the following exclusive video to see select dev team members arguing over which power-ups are best, and then read the handy guide below, provided by Rock Band Blitz Community Manager Eric Pope (who is also the cowriter of the time-traveling story mode in Dance Central 3). If you’ve got any tips or tricks of your own, feel free to share them in the comments below.
Eric Pope, Rock Band Blitz community manager:
Rock Band Blitz is a really fun game, but it’s tons more fun when you get it together and stop sucking at it. OK, that was probably too harsh. But you’re the one who’s reading this, looking for tips. You’ve implicitly admitted you need to step up your game, and I’m here to help. Think of me as your own personal Jack Flack. That’s a Cloak and Dagger reference, keep up.
Part 1: The Basics
None of my fancy tips will help you if you don’t first figure out your base strategy. You’ll quickly learn that you’ll need to be prioritizing multiple mechanics in your head in real time as you play, if you want to post competitive scores. Let’s break it down in order of priority from highest to lowest.
Track Multipliers: You start each song at a 1x multiplier on every instrument track. You have until the next song section checkpoint to level each of the instrument tracks up by 4x. That is, up to 4x in the first section, 8x in the second, 12x in the third, and so on. First and foremost, you need to focus on maxing out these multipliers in every section you play. The difference between winning and losing a Score War is often decided in the last couple sections of a song, because of the potential discrepancy between two players’ multipliers. So you’re going to want to max these out before doing anything else.
Note Power-ups: These are the glowing purple notes that sit at randomly generated spots on your note highway. Hitting them deploys whichever Note Power-up you’ve equipped. These are designed to help you get big points, so for every one you miss there’s a potential loss of many thousands of points.
Energy Notes: These are the glowing white notes on your note highway, and are what powers your Overdrive Power-ups. The more you hit the more your energy bar fills up. Overdrive Power-ups are definitely your biggest note-grabbers in the game, but they require this fuel, so if you don’t keep gathering a steady supply of it, they are useless to you.
Blitz Mode: You get into Blitz Mode by keeping up a perfect 30-note note streak in the game. Bust out your calculators and notebooks, because here comes math: You get 250 points just for going into Blitz Mode and then increasing points are awarded for every 10 note streak after that: 100, 200, 300, 400, 500. Then, 500 points every 10 notes. So, while this can be incredibly valuable, it’s also incredibly hard to pull off, especially while trying to pay attention of the above three items. We’re finding that the best players are able to juggle all of this while maintaining Blitz Mode.
One last basic piece of strategy: Learn the song’s structure! Every song is different. Some have crazy notes on every track, while others are sparse as the hairs on Dabney Coleman’s head. (Another Cloak and Dagger ref, duh.) Get familiar with the song you’re playing by not putting all of your eggs (or Blitz Coins) into the basket of one playthrough. Maybe do an exploratory playthrough to get the lay of the land, and then dive in with a full power-up loadout in the next play.
Part 2: Loadouts
Assuming you’ve followed my advice above to the very letter, you are now ready to get into the heavy stuff. Here are a few recommended power-up loadouts that I’ve found to work really well together. Note: The game is actually quite well balanced, so you’re likely to find your own combinations that work better for you than these, and that’s OK.
Bandy Flamey: The Bandmate and Flame Notes. Flame notes are worth a ton of points apiece. They generate randomly, and the more of them you hit, the faster they’ll appear, and the harder they are to keep up with. I particularly like this one: Hit a few Flame Notes and starts spreading the fire, and then enable Bandmate. Since the Bandmate Power-up will play notes perfectly in the track you’ve activated it on, it’ll help keep up with the increasing speed of the Flame Notes, extending your run
Shock and Bawl: Shockwave and Pinball Notes. Unlike a few other power-ups, neither of these destroy notes on the track. You’re awared points for every note each touches. That means you can get a triple value out of some notes, first with a Pinball, then with a Shockwave, and then when you actually hit it yourself.
Blaster Jacksploder: Jackpot and Blast Notes. Jackpot, like Blitz Mode, is for the more advanced player. You get triple points for every note you hit, but only if you don’t miss a single note while deployed. It’s huge gamble…”Jackpot,” get it!? The nice thing about using Blast Notes with Jackpot is that you can hit them while in Jackpot mode and you get the points for all the notes it hits added to your Jackpot bonus! That’s only three combos. Trust me, there are many more. And maybe I’m not even revealing my most secret-est of loadouts, either.
You’ll also notice I didn’t include any of the Track Power-ups in these loadouts. That’s because I believe those are best used on a song-by-song basis. If you’re playing a rip-ass metal song, you’ll probably want to select Super Guitar for your Track Power-up, but if you’re playing a New Wave synth-soaked song, you’ll likely want to choose Super Keys. Don’t discount how important the Track Power-ups are, though!
Part 3: The Final FUNtier (I hate myself.)
If you’ve taken to heart everything I’ve told you here, you are well equipped to be a serious contender on the Rock Band Blitz leaderboards. Score War opponents won’t know what they’re in for. But every well-equipped army needs good funding. Every time you select a loadout of Power-ups, you need to pay for them with your Blitz Coins. So it should behoove you to pursue multiple methods of filling your coffers. That’s what our Facebook app, Rock Band World, comes into play. We’ve built RB World as a place for RB Blitz players to come to create Score Wars with friends, as well as collaborate on numerous, regularly updated Goals.
Both Goals and Score Wars reward Coins for their completion! We also have a weekly in-game Coin Bonus that we’ll be pushing that will reward double coins to players for different criteria, like first plays on songs, all songs by certain artists, all songs from certain decades, and so on. Please take note that Harmonix is not in the sleaze business, so Rock Band World has no microtransactions with real-world money involved, and we don’t intend to ever add those. We also won’t spam your Facebook profile with posts.
OK, if you’ve read this far you’ve earned this last bit of advice. Run your mouth a lot. Talk so much trash to your pals over scores that you’re on the border of ruining your friendships. The final edge will be yours if you’ve thrown enough fear into your opponent that he or she begins to doubt their abilities.
That’s all I’ve got for today’s lesson. You have blossomed into a beautiful butterfly. Now go, and play many, many hours of Rock Band Blitz.
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!