It’s been about five years since we had a new Guitar Hero game, but this month Activision has plans to publish Guitar Hero Live for the PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360 and XBOX One. Guitar Hero Live is going to be a reboot to the franchise, so you can look forward to seeing some major changes in both the gameplay and experience.
Even the guitar controller will see some major changes, as it will now feature a 6-button layout. The new in-game presentation style will implement full motion video to simulate a real-world concert and put you in the perspective of the guitarist, so you’re not just watching the guitarist this time around.
The main concept is the same, but the changes are obvious and impossible to ignore. Guitar Hero Live will feature multiplayer in the form of a new Guitar Hero TV mode, which will take form inthe style of television music channels with curated playlists.
You will use your guitar-shaped controller with buttons and a strum bar to match notes using the same scrolling highway as you did in the previous titles, but now it will be presented to you with live-action in the background. So, it’s meant to be a bit more realistic, and since you are put in a first-person view, you will actually take on the role of the guitar player at a concert. In the previous titles, you were basically just watching the guitarist play..
Previous Guitar Hero controllers had a five-button design, but new controllers for Live will feature two rows of three buttons. It’s not clear how big of a difference this will be for the players, who may find it more challenging or difficult than the previous design. Frets are now represented by three scrolling lanes on-screen, with black or white notes used to represent the two rows. If you’re playing Guitar Hero Live on a lower difficulty, then you will only use one row of buttons.
Higher difficulties always include more buttons and require more precision, so as you take on more difficult levels you will get familiar with using a combination of buttons from both of the rows, which will essentially act as chords.
Players are going to be awarded points for fingering the correct note or chord at the proper time, making it possible to increase the score multiplier, which will go away as soon as you miss a note. You’re also judged by the crowd, which will start to boo the band if you keep missing notes. Since you’re in the first-person view this time, the crowd is likely to play a larger role in the game, and you won’t just hear the boos, you will be looking right at them. Mess up too much and you will be kicked off stage and the song will be put to an early stop.
However, if you’re on a roll and getting everything perfect the entire song, you will be faced with a cheering crowd that’s extremely excited to hear you play. Do your best and watch the crowd cheer and applaud, or do terrible and get booed off stage.
Guitar Hero Live will also include vocals and players will have the ability to sing along in tone with the song’s lyrics, but don’t expect to play bass guitar or drums anytime soon. This game is all about guitars and there are no plans to add any more instruments in the future.
The story mode is a single-player experience, while the Guitar Hero TV mode is a free play mode that also includes support for multiplayer. In the main story mode you will face the live-action concert footage, but Guitar Hero TV will basically put music videos in the background. GHTV will support background matchmaking and players will be able to play songs from curated channels, where they can play tracks from different genres of music. Of course, they can play songs they like individually as well.
If you played the previous Guitar Hero titles then you will be familiar with Star Power, which was a way for players to boost their scores after they completed marked sections of the track without messing up. In Guitar Hero Live, this feature is replaced by Hero Powers, and it’s only going to be available in the Guitar Hero TV mode. Which makes sense, as competitive multiplayer is all about getting the highest score and story mode is about.. well, the story.
Guitar Hero TV is a new game mode that seems to be the most exciting aspect of the upcoming music title, as the curated playlists are meant to help players discover music, just as much as they’re about finding the music you already like. Basically, there will be more music to choose from and while you are likely to have songs you love to play over and over again, there are still playlists that allow you to discover songs you didn’t know about yet.
GHTV means Activision doesn’t have to focus on scheduling downloadable content to bring you more music, and players will now have a larger quantity of songs to play. When the game launches, there will be hundreds of songs to play on GHTV, and that’s not including the story mode tracks.
Then there is GHTV Premium, which allows players to compete asynchronously with others with the intention of beating their score and landing a spot in the highest scoring brackets.
There are also rewards, like new skins for your guitar fret display and in-game credits. Premium mode can be completed without purchasing any credits, but there will be an option to purchase in-game credits via microtransactions.
Guitar Hero Live will also feature an app for mobile devices, so you can play the game via the app if your device supports the guitar. Activision and FreeStyle Games have been revealing more details on the tracks weekly as part of their “Tracklist Tuesday” promotion. So far, we have seen everything from Alice in Chains to ZZ Top.