The PDP Riffmaster could be a game changer for Fortnite Festival and Rock Band 4

PDP Riffmaster
(Image credit: PDP)

Hardware manufacturer Performance Designed Products (PDP) recently announced its new Riffmaster controller, a guitar peripheral that’ll be initially compatible with Fortnite Festival and Rock Band 4. It’s the first notable device of its kind since the halcyon days of Harmonix and Neversoft’s Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchises, respectively.

It seems like a strange choice to manufacture a guitar controller given the niche market, but, in actuality, it makes a lot more sense than you might think. Fortnite Festival is practically begging for the existence of such a controller, and it’ll likely add years of life to Rock Band 4, which has just recently concluded its support for new, downloadable tracks.

Riffing hard

Rock Band 4

(Image credit: Harmonix)

So what, precisely, is the PDP Riffmaster? Initially revealed via an IGN exclusive story, the PDP Riffmaster is a sleek, wireless guitar controller with versions for PlayStation and Xbox consoles being sold separately. It features ten fret buttons (as opposed to the five found on official Rock Band and Guitar Hero controllers), a strummer, and a whammy bar just like the peripherals of old.

Interestingly, the Riffmaster has some quality-of-life features not found on older models. These include a foldable design for easier storage (older official peripherals usually had a detachable neck instead) and an analog stick found on the rear of the neck for menu navigation. In terms of battery life, the Riffmaster can last up to 36 hours on a single charge, according to PDP. Mighty impressive.

Of course, if you did want to revisit a game like Rock Band 4, all PDP has to offer is the Riffmaster controller. If you want to smash some cymbals or sing your heart out, I hope you’ve kept hold of a compatible drum kit or microphone.

And that brings me to the first reason why the existence of the PDP Riffmaster is so important. Looking anywhere online for a second-hand Rock Band or Guitar Hero peripheral can be a veritable minefield. If they’re not eye-wateringly expensive, they may not even work with your platform of choice, require a receiver that costs even more, or just might not function due to years of wear and tear.

Having a modern solution in the form of the PDP Riffmaster addresses all of these issues. Even if we’re not getting new Guitar Hero or Rock Band games anytime soon, it’s a huge win for such titles available through backwards compatibility on PS5, PS4, and Xbox consoles.

Oh, what a nite

Fortnite Festival

(Image credit: Epic Games)

Now, while the PDP Riffmaster is compatible with Rock Band 4, that’s only one reason why the peripheral exists. The other, at least at launch, would be Fortnite Festival, which the Riffmaster will also work with.

Right now, playing Fortnite Festival is a miserable experience, and not just because its current selection of tracks leaves much to be desired. If you want to play Fortnite Festival, you’ll have to do so with a controller or keyboard, neither of which is a particularly good fit due to the horizontal button layout.

Now that the Riffmaster exists, however (or at least, it will when it launches sometime in 'Spring 2024'), there’s finally an ideal way to play Fortnite Festival, a game that’ll only get better as new tracks are added to its library. This is similarly true of Rock Band 4, which now hosts hundreds of tracks that’ll be far easier to access and enjoy thanks to the modern solution provided by PDP. All you’ll need is the peripheral and a copy of the game; no need to hunt down expensive and potentially faulty older controllers.

It’s worth mentioning that pricing has yet to be announced for the PDP Riffmaster, and this is where the controller could be a make-or-break proposition for many consumers. PDP typically reserves premium pricing for its high-end Victrix range of gamepads like the Victrix Pro BFG and Victrix Pro FS, so we could see the Riffmaster fall within a mid-range price bracket. Ultimately, pricing will need to seem fair; if it’s too expensive, most probably won’t invest when only two games are supported at launch, one of which also needs to be purchased separately.

Naturally, we’ll be keeping an eye on further details and developments when it comes to the PDP Riffmaster. However, if it’s a quality product, and one that’s priced fairly, then it could well resurrect a peripheral market that’s been dormant and largely inaccessible to casual players.

For more fantastic console hardware, including products from PDP, be sure to have a browse of our guides to the best PS5 controllers, the best Xbox controllers, and the best Nintendo Switch accessories.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.