A New Era of Guitar Hero Plants You Onstage (Literally)
Just as Rock Band announced it was back on tour, Activison’s long dormant musical prodigy has emerged from the studio, ready to sell out the stadium that is your living room.
But Guitar Hero Live doesn’t want to just revive the concept that turned the series into a $2 billion dollar star. It’s remolding itself into an entirely different band. First off, it’s stripping itself down to just a guitar peripheral – no more mic and drums (the full band implementation was only a catch-up play to begin with). Virtual avatars have been kicked off stage, too, now replaced by live video of actual musicians playing alongside you. Your perspective is in the first-person, giving you full view of the roaring spectators in front of you.
But they’re not just window dressing, eternally swaying to Stones covers. They’re reactive, and their enjoyment depends solely on your performance. Shred like a god and they’ll worship you like one; your bandmates will even make a show of their approval. Get a bad case of stupid fingers, however, and that crowd will turn on you quicker than it takes Ozzy to bite a bat’s head off. It’s this tug-of-war that developer FreeStyleGames (DJ Hero 1 & 2) is banking on to fully immerse players in the live experience.
Cap your confidence now, plastic fret burners. That’s not all that’s different in GHLive. The guitar controller itself has gone through a subtle – though game-changing – transformation. Instead of five frets, you now have six buttons lined up in rows of two.
On-screen notation compensates by splitting your cues between black and white notes – the end result inches the layout closer to actual guitar playing, where truer chord patterns can emerge. That’s right, folks. You’ll have to learn how to replay Guitar Hero. No shame in starting on Easy.
Core gameplay will be split between Live Mode – whereupon you’ll jam to gain your audience’s adoration – and GHTV. Guitar Hero TV serves as the online suite in which you can “surf” between multiple music channels, each host to their own playlists, and jam to official music videos (in lieu of the interactive Live performances). The devs say this will be the means of playing hundreds of songs and it’ll all be available out of box. Whether or not premium content will be locked behind a pay-wall or if a dedicated subscription service is being planned has yet to be disclosed.
From what we know, Guitar Hero Live is a drastic departure from the five-fret days of olde. It’s a bold move, reconstructing the rhythm game dynamic from the stage floor up, especially in the face of Rock Band 4′s strategy to grasp onto familiarity so hard that you can even use old instruments and import songs. But we already lived through an era where two different titles were competing against each other while having very little distinction in gameplay. At least now, you’ll have no problem telling the difference between Rock Band and Guitar Hero.
Guitar Hero Live’s $99.99 game/guitar bundle will launch this Fall on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. A mobile-friendly version of the game is also planned and will apparently sacrifice very little in its design compared to its console brethren. Plan to see more information dropped at E3 in June.