Hot on the heels of Harmonix announcing that there will be a Rock Band 4 coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this year, Activision has announced that the competing Guitar Hero franchise will be making a comeback as well.
Today the video game studio announced Guitar Hero Live, the same faux instrument-playing video game we’ve seen before, but with a new angle. The “live” aspect of the video game comes in the form of a first-person point of view that puts you on stage as the frontman of a rock band, all utilizing footage of real people, crowds and arenas. The official press release says:
“Guitar Hero Live is a live-action experience that delivers the full emotional roller coaster of being on stage and performing in a real band, in front of real crowds, who dynamically react in real-time to how well or poorly you play. As the lead guitarist, you play an array of songs that span the changing musical landscape, in a variety of venues, from the smallest club stage in front of a hundred people, to the massive main stage of an outdoor festival in front of a hundred thousand people.”
Here’s the trailer showing off what this new gameplay will be like:
As you can see, if you play really well, the band loves you and so does the crowd. But if you start playing poorly, well, your fellow musicians aren’t going to be pleased, and you’re going to get some unfavorable reactions from the crowd, like boos and even some disappointed fanmade signs. However, it sounds like it might be harder to put on a good show than Guitar Hero fans might be used to, and that’s because there’s a new controller.
Here’s what the new axe looks like:
As you can see, the button layout for the game is a little different this time. There’s no more multi-colored buttons at the top of the fret board, but instead a three-by-two grid of buttons, which makes gameplay a little more closer to playing a real guitar. Each fret now shares one of three lanes where the notes will scroll through, with black and white picks pointing out whether the top or bottom fret should be hit. That sounds pretty challenging, even for the most seasoned Guitar Hero players.
The bad news is that since there’s this new guitar controller, and vastly different gameplay for pretending to rock out, Guitar Hero Live won’t be backwards compatible with previous peripherals, which might make Rock Band 4 a little more appealing for those pinching their pennies. Plus, as of now, Activision is going back to Guitar Hero‘s roots by making this a single instrument game without drums or singing at this time.
However, some of the artists revealed on the game’s setlist are curious considering the fact that this game will only have a guitar as a playable instrument. Artists mentioned in the press release include The Black Keys, The Blitz Kids, Ed Sheeran, Fall Out Boy, Gary Clark, Jr., Green Day, The Killers, The Lumineers, My Chemical Romance, Pierce the Veil, The Rolling Stones, Skrillex and The War on Drugs with many more songs from rock, folk, EDM, hip-hop, country, and pop to be named in the future. The one that raises my eyebrow is Skrillex, so we’ll have to wait and see how gameplay is going to work with his songs.
There’s one more change with Guitar Hero Live. With this title, Activision is introducing GHTV, a playable music video network. The feature is described “as 24-hour mode that lets fans play along to a continually-updated collection of official music videos – across a wide variety of genres – from the newest releases to favorite hits. ” Here’s what that will look like:
Activision’s hope is for fans to discover new songs as they play and choose songs to play on-demand with the music video accompanying their gameplay instead of the normal background performance cinematics. And just like previous multiplayer iterations, GHTV will allow players to game with players in the same room or online around the world to battle for high score supremacy.
As a fan of both Rock Band and Guitar Hero, I have to say that Activision’s new game sounds admirable, and has quite some appeal that Rock Band 4 doesn’t seem to have yet. But at the same time, Rock Band will have an entire array of instruments at their disposal for all the new tracks on the way while Guitar Hero Live will only let fans play on the guitar. Personally, I’m going to wait for more details to be revealed on each game at E3 in June before I figure out which one I’m going to buy (it could easily be both).
Guitar Hero Live will be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U and select mobile devices sometime this fall. Stay tuned for more details.
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