First impressions are good :) We played for 6 hours or thereabouts last night, with just a short break to consume takeaway Chinese. We don't have the new instruments yet (and won't for a month or so) so we're playing in our "standard" line-up - me on guitar, J on drums. I suppose if you're a glass-half-empty sort of person then that means it's just more of the same game we already had, but I'm not that sort of person ;) The actual act of playing a song is much the same, but even that's changed because we've got a load of new songs. The over-arching structure of the game is pretty much completely over-hauled though - and it's nice to have something fresh. Instead of a "career" mode that you play to unlock songs/gain money to buy stuff and a separate quickplay mode (that we really only ever used for party-type play or when we'd just bought a new DLC song) in the new game the distinctions are blurred. As far as I can see all the songs are available in quickplay immediately, and you can either play single songs or setlists from that side of the interface or you can do road challenges which are like little mini-tours (rather than the big one of the previous game). Anything you do goes towards achieving Goals (which unlock items for you to dress your avatar up in, and hook into trophies), and all the scores go out to the online leaderboards. The leaderboards seem at first glance to be as well integrated as they were in The Beatles: Rock Band - when we got to the end of a song P had already played earlier that day it told us how much more we had to get to beat her score. And when you look at "more info" on a song, it tells you how your friends have done on it, as well as yourself. There's also a lot of feedback about how well you're doing compared to yourself - everything we played last night was a first play through, so it always said "new high score", but once we've played things more often it'll be good to see when we have done especially well.
On the subject of scores, another change I really like (and this is one I'd been dubious about when I read about it in advance) is the tracking of individual instrument scores even when playing as a band. The thing that was putting me off about it is that J and I play together a lot of the time on his account, but he doesn't want my guitar scores to be populating his guitar high scores - he'd rather be able to track his own progress. And vice versa if we play on mine & if I ever get round to doing drums. But it's incredibly easy to switch off individual tracking for one of the instruments when you start playing - it even prompts you. So we can track band scores and J can track his drum high scores, and the other instruments are still there for him to get his own scores on. Of course even tho it knows (and displays) how many people/which instruments for the band, I bet it still has only one "slot" for band high score, so any more than 2 player scores will still overwrite our two-player ones. I suspect hoping for that to change is a lost cause tho.
DLC is now seamlessly integrated into the game, we've been playing mostly RB3 disc tracks where possible so far tho, coz that's the new stuff. The new filtering and sorting options for the song database make it very easy to find the songs you have - which is a great change. We "only" have ~350 songs (well, that must be closer to ~425 actually as we've not done the RB2 song export yet), and it was easy to lose stuff and forget you've bought it, but hopefully that'll be a thing of the past. It also makes it easier to play "another song like that" - useful if you're letting me at the mic after I've had a
I am somewhat grumpy about not getting the new instruments at launch - and even more so because once again it's the Euro PS3 owners who've got the roughest end of the stick, and there's been a total lack of information from Harmonix/Mad Catz about what's actually happening there. But we'll get them in the end, and at least this time we got the damn game, not like the RB1 launch. There also seem to be teething troubles with some stuff in the ingame store if you're a Euro PS3 owner, but I think that's Sony's fault (from what I understand). (And I'm kinda scared of doing the RB2 song export - it's the same mechanism as the Lego Rock Band one that fucked up for us, tho at least this time we've looked out the emailed receipt from Play for RB2 in advance. I'm still gonna leave it a bit till things have hopefully settled down).
Overall those niggles are minor, everything will get sorted out in the end. And this is a game we're going to be playing for a long time to come :) Oh, and another awesome change is that you can back up RB3 saves (unlike RB2 or RB1) so if our ps3 goes *pop* again at least we'll have most of our high scores/progress saved!