I think I'll pick up Rock Band 3. While I'm not a fan of owning the digital version of a game also available physically, I get the feeling this kind of game benefits a lot from being always available for a quick session. Could any of the resident Rock Band veterans clear up a couple of things for me:
- I own the Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock 'Super Bundle' (or 'Full Band Bundle', as it is known in Europe), which means I have enough plastic musical instruments already. I know those are compatible with Rock Band 3, but will the gameplay (and my enjoyment of it) suffer from not using 'proper' Rock Band instruments?
- Exporting the setlists from previous entries in the series seems like the better deal. Does that feature still work without restrictions or is it being phased out? I understand there's a fee involved, which seems reasonable.
- There's a LOT of DLC for it... What's the best place to browse it by artist or genre, sort it by single song, song pack, etc?
I'm getting all the Iron Maiden I can!
You are right about the digital version of RB3 being incredibly convenient for quick playing. I have the physical copy but I bought the digital on sale a long time ago and have never regretted it.
As far as I know the exports still work, but the RB1 and RB2 exports are very different. For RB1, you pay a $5 export fee and it copies (most) of the songs off the disc and onto your hard drive. This will work even with a used copy of the game. For RB2, you have to pay $10 and enter a code from the manual so you actually need a new copy of the game (or at least one where the code hasn't been used, but there's no way to know that for a used copy). There's also Lego Rock Band and Green Day Rock Band which have similar export mechanisms to RB2. For RB1, if you ever need to re-export you still need the physical disc. The others will be entries in your download history so they can be downloaded again.
Guitar Hero instruments work fine with RB3, there's very little disadvantage to using them. Probably the biggest one is that you won't have the automatic timing calibration features that are built into the RB guitar, but calibration can be done manually. There's also some kind of tapping solo feature with the lower frets on the RB guitar, but I never use those anyway. I've spent quite a bit of time playing RB on GH guitars, the gameplay is perfectly fine.
I just use the in-game RB3 music store for DLC, it gives you a lot of sorting options. You'll be pretty happy with the Iron Maiden selection. The Iron Maiden Pack 01 is only $10 (because all pre-RB3 DLC is permanently on sale for half off) and gets you a dozen of their most popular songs. The Epics pack is also $10 and gets you 6 of their "epic length" songs such as Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
EDIT: When I wrote about the instruments, I was thinking mainly about the guitars. The drumming situation is a little different since GH drums have a different layout than Rock Band. It still works, but I'm not sure how the experience is because I have a full RB-pro drum set. This article has more drum info. Of course if you are interested in playing keyboard you'll need to find a RB3 keyboard somewhere, but it's certainly not required.