Rocksmith 2014 Edition (PS3) – E3 Preview

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When I heard about the new Rocksmith 2014 game/guitar trainer hybrid that Ubisoft was releasing, I wasn’t terribly convinced. I own the original and, while it’s a lot of fun and a great way to learn the guitar, I couldn’t see what a sequel title could possibly add and innovate. Maybe they would add some new songs, new mini-games, and make it look a little different, but what did I care? I wanted innovation. Fortunately I had an extra bit of time while at the Ubisoft booth and was ushered into a closed door demonstration with the Creative Director and Lead Audio Designer for the Rocksmith games, where I learned that my assumptions about it just being Rocksmith 1.5 were very inaccurate.

The big focus during the E3 preview was on the new session mode. In an unprecedented move that hasn’t been done within the music industry, Ubisoft created intelligent AI musicians to jam along with you. These were not simply backing tracks that are played as you play. The AI constantly listened to to what and how they were playing and adjusted the accompaniment organically based on notes, volume, and speed being played on the guitar. The only thing that made Rocksmith 2014’s AI musicians any different from a real band is that they will never be late and the drummer won’t complain.

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Session mode was like a live jam experience. The samples utilized to create the drums and bass sounded great and the way that the AI played felt organic and human rather than the robotic, perfectly timed notes that you would get from a drum machine or a backing track. The drummer added fills in places that felt natural, would play more gently when the guitar was soft and more aggressively when the guitar got louder and faster. It wasn’t simply a volume adjustment to the drums, but a natural change in how the drums were being played, not unlike a real drummer reacting to changes in how his bandmates are jamming.

I was told that there will be a lot of user customization within the entire game to allow the player to get the most out of their experience. In session mode alone I was shown the vast amount of options that could be tweaked by the player, from which voicing you wanted on the drums and bass, to key, speed, and volume. All of these options were easily accessible and could be changed on the fly with no loading times.

When I inquired about the remainder of the game outside, I was met with cryptic smiles and given a few teasers about the rest Rocksmith 2014. They assured me that the rest of the game would have as little loading as I saw in session mode. They were also very excited that the game would be instantly accessible, as they lamented the buried and hidden features in the first game that took a lot of work to get to. They also named off a few big name artists that they have on board to help really sell the song list for Rocksmith 2014.

Before heading out for my next appointment, I had to ask about my one pet peeve with the original Rocksmith – it failed to effectively teach proper technique. I was once again met with a smile and told that while they are not talking about features outside of session mode right now, not to worry. They ‘have listened to fan feedback about the first game and have addressed nearly everything’. It really sounds like Rocksmith 2014’s subtitle “All New Edition” will live up to its promises. I can’t wait for details on the rest of the game and you can keep it tuned to PlayStation LifeStyle for more news as we get it.