Rocksmith+ could be the most fun way to learn guitar – we’ve tested it

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Rocksmith has been around since 2011, starting as an alternative to the trendy five-button rhythm guitar, differentiating itself by the fact that it allows players to use their own real instrument as a controller, turning the act of playing a guitar into a game of swing. Over the years, it’s been promoted more for its success as a guitar learning tool than as a real competitor to other rhythm games, and that’s really what Rocksmith+ is all about. Rocksmith+ is a subscription service which costs €14.99 a month, €39.99 for three months and €99.99 for a full year, and with that cost comes a library of over 5,000 songs, a full set of lessons to teach you how to play the guitar at almost every level and an amazing amount of tools to help you reach your level of guitar skill and refine it from there.

And everything works! After trying it out for a few weeks, and with just a handful of guitar lessons from when I was a teenager and a few hours of playing around with earlier versions of Rocksmith as a base, I certainly I improved my knowledge of chordsincreased my finger dexterity and learned the proper way to play the guitar.

I can’t speak to what Rocksmith+ will do for someone who already knows how to play guitar well, but for me, what really makes Rocksmith+ worth its subscription cost is your lesson plan. They are divided into four learning paths: Basic, Intermediate Lead Guitar, Intermediate Rhythm Guitar, and Advanced, and each Learning Path contains a bunch of lessons complete with a practice track that tests your understanding of the lesson. The challenge is to get a score of 80% of the notes played at 100% speed to pass a lesson, which gave me a good game-like incentive and made me really practice until I got the technique down before move on to the next.

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My only disappointment is that the lessons are completely separate from the song library. She would have been nice to know what songs, or even what parts of songs she could play with the chords she was learning. Despite having walked a significant part of the fundamentals learning path, I felt directionless as I navigated through Rocksmith+’s massive song library and tried to find something I could play comfortably without feeling lost in a sea of ​​chords. and unknown techniques that had not yet been taught to me.

Fortunately, Rocksmith+ adaptive difficulty works quite well. Every time you choose a song, you’re given a recommended difficulty target that sets the note table to what the game thinks your skill level is at the time. If you play well, it will start adding some extra notes, maybe turn some single notes into chords, or maybe add some glides. Just like the lessons, it does a great job of gamifying the process of learning the songs, as I kept repeating specific ones to try to raise the difficulty and increase my mastery percentage. All of this is rewarded with customizable necks and fretboards, but honestly, the upgraded feel is reward enough on its own.

Rocksmith+’s adaptive difficulty works quite well.

As strange as it seems, Rocksmith+’s weakest area has been its song selection. Although that’s an insane number of songs (5,000) to have in a single game, I struggled to find songs that fit even my basic rock music tastes. Sure, this is a subjective review, but if you were to do a Google search for the top ten rock bands of all time, chances are most, if not all, would be missing from the Rocksmith+ song library entirely. There is no Led Zeppelin, Def Leppard, Queen, Rush, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, Kiss, and so on. It’s not just the classics, either. Even more modern and active rock bands like The Foo Fighters, Muse, The Killers and Queens of the Stone Age are conspicuous by their absence. And not only that, but some of the bands that do have songs in the game are missing their biggest hits. It was an absolute shock to see that Deep Purple has eleven songs in the game, and none of them are Smoke on the Water.

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Rocksmith+’s way of compensating for this is have an exceptionally wide variety of different genres, and to be fair, it’s an impressive extension. There’s everything from reggae, hip-hop, blues, Latin American music, children’s songs, and heck, there’s even a handful of anime opening and ending songs, like Kesenai Tsumi from the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime. It’s great to see hidden gems like these while browsing the song list, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that, for a game so focused on teaching you how to play guitar, the actual number of all-time classic guitar songs you can learning is, at least for the moment, extraordinarily small.

and therein lies the question of the value of Rocksmith+: As a way to teach guitar playing, it’s fantastic. The interface is wonderful, the lessons are simple and easy to understand, and there are great skill checks at each level to make sure you’re understanding and able to repeat what you’re being taught. But as a game that you boot up to play along with your favorite songs, it doesn’t deliver. Of course, this is a subscription service in its early stages, and more songs will surely be added throughout its life cycle, as there are even several community creations on the service.

Our hands-on impressions from the beginning of our guitar journey.

As someone who wants to learn to play the guitar, who doesn’t have a schedule that allows him to take in-person lessons, and who has already seen progress and improvement in the few weeks he’s been using Rocksmith+, I’m inclined to stick with it and see how the service evolves over time. But to keep my attention, Ubisoft is going to have to beef up its song library with some heavy hitters from the rock world.

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In any case, if you’ve got an electric guitar and a Real Tone cable to connect it to your platform of choice, you’ll be able to try it out for yourself when Rocksmith+ opens its doors starting today on PC.