Four reasons to be excited, and four reasons to be wary of Guitar Hero Live

We're doing it live!

While Harmonix might have announced their new game, Rock Band 4, first, Activision beat them to the punch by not only unveiling the new guitar peripheral, but a look at the updated gameplay.

Guitar Hero Live is all about simulating a live performance in front of a live crowd. Get it, Live?!

While I'm pretty excited about the new direction Activision is taking the franchise, some of it looks suspect. So should you be excited about the new Guitar Hero game? I'll give you four reasons to get excited, but also four reasons to be wary about the new game.

Here are four reasons to get pumped.

New controller

One of the most important aspects of today's announcement was undoubtedly the guitar controller. After all, it is the peripheral you'll need to use if you're going to play the game. I was worried that Guitar Hero would simply fall back into the same old controller layout, just a slightly new design. Turns out, that's not the case.

Guitar Hero Live

The new controller looks sturdy, just from looking at the build. But it's not the build that's important here, it's the new button layout. Guitar Hero is going for a six button layout, with three buttons across two layers. While this sounds like the game might be easier, since you won't have to use your pinky, it does open up some cool opportunities for power chord-like combinations.


This is quite subjective, but I really do like the new direction Activision is taking Guitar Hero. I dig that you're basically playing as yourself, on stage, playing to a live crowd. And when I say live, I'm talking real people, which is also where the game's name stems from.

While we'll have to wait to see how it actually plays and feels, the idea of playing in front of thousands of simulated real people does sound pretty enticing.

Diverse Library

Guitar Hero Live

Past Guitar Hero games focused a lot on Classic Rock. While there have been numerous outliers, the fact remains that it catered to that specific demographic. Guitar Hero Live looks to have a much bigger and diverse list of artists. As Activision put it, they're going for a more modern music festival feel, than a straight up rock concert. That means genres like rock, folk, EDM, hip-hop, country and pop will all be present on the game's soundtrack, with artists like Green Day, Ed Sheeran, The Killers, Fall Out Boy, Skrillex, The Lumineers and even Carrie Underwood.

New direction

This one is pretty important too. Guitar Hero, at least after Rock Band's release, tried to be a "Me too" game. It caved under pressure from Harmonix and also offered up a full band experience. It's cool to see Guitar Hero going back to its roots, and simply focusing on just one peripheral. Leave the band stuff to Rock Band, and aim to deliver an awesome guitar experience.

Granted, this new direction could also backfire. The new first-person view with live FMVs is already getting some negative response online, and that's understandable. But it's hard to judge a game based on just a few minutes of footage.

Here are four reasons to be worried.

Odd currency system

Guitar Hero Live

I'm going to point this one out first, because it's easily the most worrisome. Guitar Hero Live won't be a cheap game. It's going to cost $99 when it releases, which includes the game and guitar, but this screenshots already has some worrying info on it. If you look on the top right, you'll see what looks like three separate currencies; The golden coins, a blue diamond and the green square. Obviously we have absolutely no details on what those mean, but given their placement, they look like they have a lot to do with microntransaction currency.

Now you'd say, "Of course there's microntransactions. It's a music game. They'll have tons of songs to download." Sure, I'll agree with that, but having multiple types of currencies in a game isn't usually associated with bigger things like that. Often multiple currencies are set up to block progression, unless enough is earned or outright bought. Let's hope that this isn't the case and we're all simply overreacting.

Most likely a huge install size

Guitar Hero Live

If there's one thing I know about FMVs, they take a huge amount of storage space. I'll refer to Lococycle. When that game came out, I was completely taken aback by its 15GB size, given that I knew what the game was. Turns out, most of that space was taken up by the FMV sequences, which actually permeated 80% of the game. Not to mention they were at full 1080p.

If Activision will have unique crowd footage for most songs, coupled with the fact that it's going to most likely be at 1080p, then that's a lot of storage space we'll have to use up on our hard drives. It's a minor gripe, but a gripe none the less.

No backwards compatibility

There are two points to be made here. One that's less important, thanks to the new gameplay design, but another one that's pretty damning. The first, being the peripheral. I understand that the new game won't be able to utilize the old guitar peripherals since the game now uses a new button layout.

The bigger issue is that none of your old DLC will seemingly work with the new Guitar Hero. Granted, a lot of it most likely has to do with the fact that live footage is used. It still sucks, especially for those that actually chose Guitar Hero over Rock Band, and dumped a lot of money into the game's DLCs.


While purely speculative, the footage seemed to support that Bass is not going to be supported in the full game. Not only does the button layout make less sense, but the bigger indicator is the live footage used for each song. They'd need to have double the camera views in order to be fully authentic. After all, if you're a bassist and you see another bassist on stage, it ruins the immersion. I surely hope I'm wrong, because I have a few friends who played nothing but bass in previous entries.

So there you have it. While I'm pumped to play the new Guitar Hero, especially since I'm a big rhythm game fan, I have some reservations about it. Remember that hype can be a good thing, but always keep a skeptical eye to save you from potential disappointment.