When Guitar Hero first released back in 2005 (wow, was it really that long ago?), it was something completely different. It equipped gamers with a plastic guitar and granted them the gift of digital rock stardom – assuming that they could keep up with the coloured notes flying down the game’s musical highway of course.
Like any real band that plays the same tune over and over again though, Guitar Hero grew stale with each subsequent release of a sequel. People eventually turned a deaf ear to the franchise and moved on with their lives. I was one of them. I left my fake stardom behind to pursue an ordinary life once more. After spending some time with the upcoming title, Guitar Hero Live, at Gamescom however, I am happy to report that it looks like the band is getting back together – and not just because the game is shipping with a brand new controller mind you… it genuinely looks fantastic!
Let’s get this bit out of the way, shall we? Yes, the new Guitar Hero is shipping with a brand new peripheral. The sad news is that if you, like me, have a pile of old guitar controllers from previous games lying around, they are now essentially useless. The good new though is that after seeing the new guitar in action, I can’t say I’m too phased that my old collection will now amount to nothing more than very large paper weights.
Gone are the five buttons many have grown to master over the years. The new guitar has six buttons; three by two (three black, three white), and it makes so much more sense. This new configuration allows for chords from the music to transition a teeny bit more realistically to gameplay. While watching the presentation, I constantly had the thought that Guitar Hero should’ve had this device in the first place. Five buttons next to each other? How silly! Six buttons, three by two, allowing for the proper simulation of chords? Amazing!
This isn’t just some move to cash in. During the presentation, we were told that many people that played previous Guitar Hero’s refused to play past anything harder than medium because well, they couldn’t manage more than three buttons (stretching the pinky across to the fourth fret, let alone fifth fret was challenging for some). Being a person who played expert myself, it’s easy to scoff and be like “COUGH THEY SUCK COUGH”, but the fact of the matter is, I have large hands, and hopping between buttons was not physically challenging at all.
This new guitar eliminates all of that pinky contortionism. Everybody’s hand, no matter what size, will be able to bounce between the new buttons. A nice bonus is that expert players (from previous Guitar Hero titles) can now look forward to mastering a whole new system too. New guitar, new challenge.
What blew me away in the presentation was not the new guitar controller believe it or not, as impressive as it is. No, it was the game itself. Guitar Hero Live is bringing some amazing additions to the franchise. Yes, there is the new campaign, filled with live performance footage which people will either love or hate, which will suck away many hours as is. The real time sink of this title however lies in Guitar Hero TV. Alessandro put it best when he described it as a sort of Guitar Hero Spotify.
Guitar Hero TV will be a streaming service, packed with a ton of songs that people can actually jump into and play solo, or against others, 24/7. This will be all tracked, and there will be leaderboards and such. If a player really wants, they can choose to play songs on demand too.
At launch, there will be two channels. These channels will cover a variety of genres, and consist of hundreds of songs.
The whole time I was listening to all this being said, a voice at the back of my mind kept shouting “Paywall! Where is the paywall?” So I asked, and I was told that everything we saw in the presentation, including Guitar Hero TV, will be included with the game straight out of the box.
This doesn’t mean that there won’t be any ways to spend real money though. In the Guitar Hero TV mode, there are challenges and progression that unlocks all sorts of new goodies (like a new highway for example). These can be acquired with cold hard cash. I did ask the all important question however, “can somebody experience all this without spending a cent beyond the game’s asking price?” The answer was yes.
That is unbelievable value for money. Again, I’m forced to look back at previous Guitar Hero titles and cringe at how backwards it now seems. Each title had a limited playlist which got played into the ground, and if people wanted more, they either had to hop online to pay for DLC, or wait for the next big expansion.
All of that is now a thing of the past. Guitar Hero Live will get updated, all for free, and provide many hours of musical content to play through. Feel like playing solo? Cool, hop into the campaign. Got a party happening and need to entertain loads of people? Tune into Guitar Hero TV.
I had every intention of skipping this new Guitar Hero. After seeing in action today though, I think I may need to reconsider. Its looking amazing thus far… the boys are definitely back in town!
Last Updated: January 4, 2017