While I originally wanted to include both Rock Band 4 and Guitar Hero Live on our countdown list, I was told I only had to pick one. It was a difficult choice, especially since I very much enjoyed both games. In the end though, I had to give a slight nod to Activision's game. The new direction they took the game coupled with the new control layout gave me a new experience, rather than a tried-and-true one, and it paid off.
This time, Guitar Hero Live didn't just want to give you great songs to play, but rather, feel as though you're actually playing them, and they accomplished this in two ways. Firstly, the new controller layout with six buttons, three-on-three, made the chords a lot more realistic. Sure, you weren't going to pick up a guitar after playing GHL and know how to play, but being a guitarist myself, I certainly appreciated the vast amount of chord combinations you could squeeze out of this new layout. Second, the game featured live-action band sequences that put you on stage. You always played from a first-person perspective and the crowd would either cheer you on as you played, or chastised you for sucking. It was a pretty great system.
New to the game was the inclusion of GHTV, an always on set of music video channels that you would turn on, and immediately start jamming out to. GHTV included songs not included in the main game, giving it much needed variety. The cool part was, as soon as you started playing, you were matched with other players online as well, directly competing against them seamlessly.
DLC was also handled differently. Instead of outright allowing you to purchase songs to play, you would instead purchase tokens, which allowed you to play any of the GHTV songs on-demand, assuming you had the tokens to pay for them. What's great about this though is the game gave you plenty of opportunities to earn these yourself, without paying a cent. Alternatively, you could also pay a set amount to unlock all of the songs for unlimited play for 24 hours.
If you're not strapped for cash, I'd certainly recommend both music games, as they both bring something different to the table, but if you only have enough for one, and you want something new out of your guitar/rhythm game, then Guitar Hero Live is a no brainer.