In 2011, Ubisoft paved a bold, innovative trail in the rhythm game genre with the release of Rocksmith on Xbox 360 and PS3. Instead of simulated instruments and button-based patterns like Guitar Hero or Rock Band, this compelling musical endeavor empowered players to pick up a guitar and actually learn the songs. As a long-time musician, I adored the ambitious efforts and undeniable potential of the original Rocksmith.
To ensure this fascinating formula stayed playable on modern machines, Ubisoft remastered and re-released Rocksmith on Xbox One, PS4, and PC in 2014. While the updated version included new songs and enhanced learning tools, the fundamental experience remained essentially identical to its predecessor. Fans of the inaugural entry appreciated the ability to shred on their preferred platform, but Rocksmith Remastered didn’t pack the same groundbreaking punch.
After a lengthy hiatus, the shred-focused franchise is back, hoping to recapture that initial magic and expand its education proficiencies. Rocksmith+ reimagines the primary promise of delivering a video game that authentically teaches users how to play guitar by embracing community input and offering an all-encompassing subscription model. Unfortunately, Rocksmith+ isn’t cheap, and many prospective customers are likely wondering if the game earns its asking price. From fledgling rockers to seasoned virtuosos, let’s dissect everything included with this subscription.
What’s new with Rocksmith+?
On the surface, Rocksmith+ (opens in new tab) retains the core elements that players know and love from previous entries but also introduces improved features, gameplay mechanics, community-generated content, and a monthly subscription model. Many of the upgrades to Rocksmith+ are overwhelmingly positive. Still, it’s worthwhile to highlight the most noteworthy changes implemented with the current iteration.
Rocksmith+ aims to usher in the next chapter in video game guitar learning. For enthusiasts unfamiliar with the franchise, the latest entry continues the tradition of combining introductory guitar lessons with interactive tutorials designed to help you learn your favorite songs on guitar or bass. Rocksmith+ enriches the pool of onboarding content available for beginners, making it easier than ever to learn guitar from home.
Practiced Rocksmith or Rocksmith Remastered veterans will immediately be comfortable with the UI and noteway: the virtual fretboard that displays note and chord information. However, one profoundly welcomed addition with Rocksmith+ is tablature view. Long-time guitar players frequently complained about the clustered view of the classic noteway. Thankfully, the development team took those criticisms to heart, allowing full tab presentation for compatible tracks.
Traditionally, aspiring guitar legends would purchase Rocksmith and the Real Tone USB cable for the standard retail price and then have the option to acquire supplemental songs for roughly $3 USD a piece. Rocksmith+ inherently alters this approach by introducing a subscription-based monetization model. Players can unlock access to thousands of songs and the full array of educational lessons for $14.99/month, $39.99/3-months, or $99.99/year. Unfortunately, there are means of buying the game or songs a la carte.
To justify the transition to a subscription service, Rocksmith+ boasts a robust, ever-growing catalog of tracks and community-driven creation tools to guarantee steady ongoing content. As it stands, Rocksmith+ features over 5000 songs and promises “millions more to come.” This ambitious archive is fortified by Rocksmith Workshop, which enables guitar players to add their own arrangements to the library of pre-licensed songs. Theoretically, Rocksmith+ will offer more songs than one individual could ever master.
Is Rocksmith+ worth it for beginners?
If you’re genuinely interested in learning how to play guitar, Rocksmith+ is a fantastic resource. I was an enormous advocate of the educational tools provided in Rocksmith and Rocksmith Remastered. In many ways, that foundation is only strengthened this time around. The beauty of Rocksmith+ is that someone who has never picked up a guitar in their entire life can sit down with the game and meaningfully improve their playing. As a self-taught player who grew up printing tabs and scales off the internet, I would have loved a service like Rocksmith+.
Players can browse a collection of streamlined, virtual lessons from three distinct difficulty levels; beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Novice guitarists can gently ease their erudition journeys by understanding elementary principles like open strings, fretted notes, sustain, and chord formation. Players are further encouraged to experiment with techniques like power chords, picking styles, and more. Eventually, determined shredders will experiment with advanced mannerisms.
Adaptive learning mechanics also gradually increase the difficulty based on performance. This allows rookies the luxury of playing along with their favorite songs without the pressure of delivering a one-to-one performance. As you nail sections and become more competent with the particularities of a given track, Rocksmith+ will automatically add notes and chords to your noteway. This likely isn’t the preferred way to play for veteran guitarists, but it’s an excellent feature for newcomers.
As an anecdotal experiment for the sake of comparison, I researched five businesses in my area that offer guitar lessons. On average, it would cost me $20-$30 an hour for beginner tutoring. Many of these teachers were also only available once per week. If I was consistent with my lessons and attended one weekly session, I’d be looking at a minimum of $80 per month. While the asking price for Rocksmith+ is unquestionably high compared to other gaming subscription services, it presents a convincing value for individuals considering formal lessons.
Is Rocksmith+ worth it for pros?
While Rocksmith+ is an enticing package for eager learners, many returning fans are likely hungry to know what the new and improved experience provides. For the riff masters who’ve perfected sweep-picking, pinch harmonics, and conquered the tracks from former Rocksmith titles, there are literally thousands of fresh songs to absorb. However, there are some serious caveats to consider.
Expert Rocksmith connoisseurs probably have a healthy repertoire of go-to selections from their favorite bands. From comforting throwbacks to technical licks that push their abilities to the limits, all guitar players have genres, tracks, and riffs they prefer. As someone who gravitates towards metal and rock, I thoroughly enjoyed the selection of songs available in Rocksmith and Rocksmith Remastered. Unfortunately, as it stands, a staggering number of artists are strangely absent from the Rocksmith+ tracklist.
Muse, Megadeth, Incubus, Iron Maiden, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Trivium, Silversun Pickups, Slayer, and Slipknot are merely a tiny handful of bands found in previous Rocksmith versions that aren’t currently playable in Rocksmith+. Ubisoft pledges to add new songs regularly, but as a returning fan, it was impossible not to feel disappointed by the selection of artists available. With 5000 songs to choose from, I expected the portfolio to be more robust.
For skilled guitarists, the most significant selling point for Rocksmith+ lies in tablature view. This enhanced addition to the noteway provides a cleaner and dramatically simplified view of songs. Various refined options allow players to customize their noteway with the largest or fewest bits of fretboard information. In my testing, tab view was only available on tracks with “Lead” or “Rhythm” sections, excluding thousands of songs.
The bottom line
Rocksmith+ elevates the learning capabilities of the franchise in almost every way. The ingenious presentation of the latest entry massively diminishes the intimidating process of picking up a guitar or bass and actually understanding how to use it. Outside of watching endless hours of guitar tutorials on YouTube, Rocksmith+ is probably the easiest and cheapest way to learn how to shred along with some of your favorite songs.
If you are considering a Rocksmith+ subscription, I highly recommend browsing the current song library (opens in new tab) to ensure the existing tracks align with your interests. I’m hopeful we’ll see service tangibly deliver upon its promise of offering millions of songs. Still, for now, they seem to be having a hard time locking down big-name artists. Despite its softer rollout, Rocksmith+ is a fascinating evolution of one of the best music video game franchises.