It's hard for me to mask my excitement about Guitar Hero Live, because in my opinion, there's nothing more exciting than a developer who's capable of outsmarting an entire genre's fanbase. Guitar Hero Live isn't just well-executed; it's clever and innovative in ways that no one other than FreeStyleGames ever imagined. My fears that Guitar Hero Live would be wringing blood out of the franchise's stone were unfounded; at some point, FreeStyleGames found itself a newer, better stone altogether.
Rock Band 4 is stripped down to the essentials, but despite its leanness, it's pulled off something encouraging: It's made me want to play Rock Band again, even after the dozens of hours and countless parties I've spent with the series. It isn't Harmonix's boldest or biggest game. But Rock Band 4 lays a foundation for Harmonix to move forward.