Rocksmith+ could be the most fun way to learn to play guitar

Rocksmith has been around since 2011, starting as an alternative to the five-button rhythm guitar craze, distinguished by the fact that it allows players to use their own six real strings as a controller, turning the act of playing a guitar into a rhythm game. . Over the years, it’s been touted more for its success as a guitar learning tool than a real competitor to other rhythm games, and that’s really what Rocksmith+ stands on. Rocksmith+ is a subscription service that costs $14.99 per month, $39.99 for three months, and $99.99 for a full year, and along with that cost comes a library of over 5,000 songs, a comprehensive set of lectures to teach you how to play guitar. at almost every level, and an amazing amount of tools to help you find your level of guitar skill and fine-tune it from there.

And everything works! Having tried it 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 iterations of Rocksmith as a base, I certainly improved my knowledge of chords. , increased my finger dexterity and learned about the proper way to play the guitar.

E3 2021 Screens – Rocksmith Plus

I can’t speak to what Rocksmith+ will be worth to someone who already knows how to play guitar well, but for me, what really makes Rocksmith+ earn its subscription cost is its 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 that are punctuated with a practice track that tests your understanding of the lesson. You are challenged to score 80% of the notes played at 100% speed to complete a lesson, which gave me a nice game-like incentive and made me practice a lot until I really got the technique down before moving on . In the next.

My only minor disappointment here is that the lessons are completely separate from the song library. It would have been nice to find out what songs, or even what parts of songs, I could play with the chords I was learning. Despite going through a substantial part of the basic learning path, I felt aimless when it came to browsing Rocksmith+’s massive song library and trying to find something I could comfortably play without feeling lost in a sea of ​​chords and techniques. strangers he hadn’t known. have taught me yet.

Fortunately, Rocksmith+’s adaptive difficulty works quite well. Every time you choose a song, you’re given a recommended difficulty target that sets the note graph to whatever level the game feels your skill is currently at. If you play well, you’ll start adding some extra notes, maybe turn some single notes into chords, or maybe add some slides. Like the lessons, it does a great job of gamifying the process of learning songs, as I kept playing specific songs to try and increase the difficulty and increase my mastery percentage. You’re rewarded for doing all of this with customizable guitar fretboards and necks, but honestly, the feeling of improvement is reward enough on its own.

Rocksmith+’s adaptive difficulty works quite well.

Interestingly, Rocksmith+’s weakest area has been its song selection of over 5,000 songs. Even though that’s just an insane amount of songs to have in one game, I struggled to find songs that fit even my basic taste in rock music. 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, aren’t in the Rocksmith+ song library. There is no Led Zeppelin, Def Leppard, Queen, Rush, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, Kiss, I could go on and 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. Not only that, but some of the bands that 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.

Rocksmith+’s way of compensating for this is to have an exceptionally wide variety of different genres, and to be fair, it’s an impressive variety. 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 that as you explore the song list, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that for a game that’s so focused on teaching you how to play guitar, the actual amount of all-time classical guitar songs for you to learn is , at least for the moment, extraordinarily small.

And therein lies the question of the value of Rocksmith+: as a way to teach you how to play guitar, it’s fantastic. The interface is wonderful, the lessons are simple and easy to understand, and there are great skill checks at every level to ensure you understand and can repeat what you’re being taught. But as a game you boot up to play along with your favorite songs, it’s not quite there yet. Of course, this is a look at a subscription service in its infancy, and more songs will surely be added throughout its life cycle, and there will even be a number of community creations already on the service.

As someone looking to learn to play guitar basically from scratch, doesn’t have the schedule to allow for actual in-person lessons, and has already seen progress and improvement in just a few weeks that I’ve been using Rocksmith+, I’m inclined to stick with it and see how the service evolves over time. But to keep my attention, Ubisoft will definitely have to beef up its song library with some of the greats of the rock world.

In any case, if you have an electric guitar, a Real Tone cable to connect it to the platform of your choice, you can give it a spin for yourself, since Rocksmith + opens its doors from today on PC.

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