Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Favorite Rocksmith 2014 DLC Packs

Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 5, 2015

RS2_1024x768Yep, I’m still playing Rocksmith 2014. A lot – at least IMO, with around 300 hours of playtime (still an order of magnitude away from what I’d need to really get “good”, I know…). I recently hit something of a minor breakthrough – you know, the point where you finally escape the plateau you’ve been on for a while? I can’t tell you exactly what it was, although I suspect that some of it was simply that I am more cognizant of how hard I’m fretting (a bad habit from an old acoustic I started learning on when I was 16, I think) and simply greater familiarity with certain scales. It’s not like I’ve been practicing the scales as much as I should have, simply that I’ve been learning enough songs with similar keys that I have developed a feel and familiarity with where my fingers should naturally play. It’s a small victory, but it’s pushed my scores up a bit more, and my playing “unplugged” is … well, better. Not great, but better. Still nothing I’d really feel like showing off, but then it always sounds better when you are backed by a band.

As far as musical preference, I’m still pretty old-school. I listen to classic rock radio stations, and I tend to think of “new” music as being anything less than fifteen years old. So my preferences for music to learn from Rocksmith 2014 tends to be kind of biased. I want to learn to play my old favorites. Although sometimes I discover that old favorites aren’t always the most useful for learning new skills. But as someone still very much at an intermediate level, it’s nice having some easier songs where I can just focus on the basics.

A lot of my favorite packs are actually from the original Rocksmith. I’ve not included them here, but for a while there (like, the first quarter of last year), it seemed like the focus had shifted to smaller, indie bands I’d never heard of. Good stuff (especially for learning some more unusual chords and techniques outside of the old radio-friendly basics), but lacking infinite time and money (and possessing even more limited skill), I’ve only picked up a couple of those.

So listing my favorite Rocksmith 2014 DLC packs is almost a case of saying “What’s my favorite music?” Even excluding the stuff I’m not too familiar with, I’ve probably spent as much on Rocksmith (including the old game) as I did on my new guitar. But comparing my skills to where I was a couple of years ago, I’d have to say it’s money well spent.

So I’ve tried to weight these as much as how much they have to teach me as how motivating they are simply because they are old favorites. Here are the ones that have been the biggest ‘wins’ for me, and if I were to recommend the game to someone with my same old-school tastes, these are the packs I’d suggest getting along with it:

1. Jimi Hendrix Pack

This is a mega-pack and feels like cheating. But so what? It can be purchased as a single pack or as four smaller packs, and all told includes a dozen classic rock tracks by one of the most influential rock guitarists of all time. This is as much a “must buy” for Rocksmith 2014 as any other pack. Unless you got the XBox One or PS4 versions, in which case you get it as a free incentive until the end of this month. The songs include “The Wind Cries Mary,” “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),”Castles Made of Sand,” “Purple Haze,” “Foxey Lady,” “Little Wing,” “Red House,” “Fire,” “Bold as Love,” “If 6 was 9,” “Freedom,” and “Manic Depression.”

2. Bachsmith

This is an all-original arrangement of classical music by musicians on the Rocksmith team. The music has been arranged in a variety of styles and techniques to provide a good advanced learning tool, but it’s just awesome stuff. Fun, educational, and good to listen to. The songs include Bach’s “Little Fugue in G Minor,” Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” Mozart’s “Ronda Alla Turca,” and Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.”

3. Arena Rock Singles

I’m a sucker for hair metal. And this is it. This is a collection of singles and can’t be bought as a pack at a discount, sadly, but they are all different bands & labels. These are songs that make you feel like you are a rock god when you play them, the good ol’ fashioned Guitar Hero feeling. Three of the five require you to down-tune your guitar a half-step down to E flat. But between this and a few other packs, there’s enough songs tuned to E flat that you can play a nice variety of pieces while you are down there these days. The songs include Autograph’s “Turn Up the Radio,” Dio’s “Holy Diver,” Billy Squire’s music industry send-up “The Stroke,” Winger’s “Seventeen,” and Poison’s “Nothin’ But a Good Time.” There’s a big list of candidates – especially one-hit-wonders – who could have been included in this one, so I’m looking forward to a potential “Arena Rock Singles 2” in 2015.

4. Surf Rock

I thought surf music was the one thing that was really missing from Rocksmith 2014. Not that I’m a big fan of surf music, but as my skills have developed, I’ve found myself appreciating it more. It’s older music from a simpler era, but still fun and catchy and immediately recognizable, and isn’t too hard to learn to play. The songs include Dick Dale’s “Misirlou” (a must-have for anything calling itself a surf rock pack!), The Surfari’s “Wipeout” (the other must-have for a self-respecting surf pack!), and The Venture’s “Walk Don’t Run.” And hey, it’s a good chance to exercise that whammy bar!

5. Boston

Technically challenging and one of the best rock groups of all time. The only thing wrong with this pack is that it was only three songs, but that leaves plenty of room for a second pack. The songs include “Don’t Look Back,” “Foreplay / Long Time,” and “Hitch a Ride.” Fortunately, Rocksmith 2014 came with “Peace of Mind” as an included song, so we’ve got a pretty decent collection. IMO, the Boston songs often have more challenging rhythm guitar parts than the lead parts, so don’t get too hyper-focused on playing lead on these songs, as fun as they are.

6. The Who

Five songs by one of classic rock’s superbands. If you want a real rhythm part workout, try “Pinball Wizard.” There’s not a lot of guitar part in “Baba O’Reily,” but it’s fun to play along with. “Who Are You” is another “must-have” for this pack, and I’d have been sorely disappointed if “Behind Blue Eyes” hadn’t made it in. “The Seeker” rounds out this pack. The one downside of this pack is that two of the songs aren’t “true tuned,” so you have to retune your guitar a little to play along (to E447 for Behind Blue Eyes, and E454 for Baba O’Reily) . If you want to practice a single song over and over again, it’s not a big deal, but I find myself skipping them out of laziness.

7. No Doubt

I’m not a huge fan of No Doubt, but their music fuses rock with ska, which makes for some interesting chord progression and rhythms that are unusual in traditional blues-based rock. They are fun, sound great, and teach some new skills. Win! The songs include “Don’t Speak,” “Spiderwebs,” and “Ex-Girlfriend.”

8. Iron Maiden

Because… Maiden. One of the best and most influential metal groups of all time, and challenging without seeming completely out of my league. And it’s a five-pack! It includes “Run to the Hills,” “Aces High,” “2 Minutes to Midnight,” “Fear of the Dark,” and “The Number of the Beast.”

9. The Killers

They sound like the 80s, but … different. And IMO, kind of angsty, but in a personal way, unlike the generic disaffection of the grunge period. It’s mixed in with the synth and the 80s style, but it has accumulated a flavor of its own. For me, I found myself dealing with some unfamiliar chords / fingerings, which remains a fun challenge. All but one of the songs are down-tuned to E-flat, so it is another good pack to get if you want a variety of fun songs to play while you are down-tuned. The songs are mainly their “greatest hits” plus a new one: “Mr. Brightside,” “When We Were Young,” “Somebody Told Me,” “Runaways,” and “Spaceman.”

10. Tom Petty

This was a tough call, and the pack is something of a mix. Some song parts are downright boring to play, but if you are really trying to master some strum patterns with all the “voice” of the originals, they’ve got a lot to teach you. And as a bonus (for me), most sound pretty good on an acoustic guitar, although some of the bends wouldn’t work so well. The songs include “Learning to Fly,” “Refugee,” “American Girl,” “Free Fallin’,” and “I Won’t Back Down.” Coupled with “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” that comes with Rocksmith 2014, and “Good Enough” from the original game (if you have the original game and paid the fee to migrate it over), that’s a lot of Tom Petty.

Honorable Mentions

Bon Jovi – because, hair band stuff again. Fun and not super-challenging. Duran Duran – because 80’s. Get used to some really funky bends and slides. Foreigner – because they rock, but to me it’s mainly isolated riffs without much to learn. Foo Fighters 2 – because more Foo Fighters is not a bad thing, and their songs feel like a decent stretch from the more conventional stuff. And Aerosmith. Gotta love Aerosmith.

So… which ones have I mastered yet? None of the above. Although I can do pretty well on a couple of the Surf Rock songs – I’d just need to focus on getting them down perfect. I’ve been working a bit on “Foxy Lady” but going from the simplified version I once kinda-learned to a note-perfect version is more of a challenge than I’d expected.  One of the problems with having so many songs to work with is that it’s very tempting to go for playing the variety rather than really focusing on getting one song note-perfect. Many of the songs I still find myself playing the most come from the first game and from its DLC… but that’s simply because they snagged some great ones for the first game.

Filed Under: Guitar Games - Comments: Read the First Comment

  • CRPG Dev said,

    I just bought myself Rocksmith 2014 for Christmas (partly after reading your thoughts on it). I can’t remember the last time I spent so long playing my guitar or a game – I’m really enjoying it. I’ve tended to focus on about 6 songs just now so I’ve still lots to try out but I have had a quick look at the DLC and have seen quite a lot I’d like (including quite a few you’ve mentioned). Planning to do some posts / videos for Rocksmith myself when my playing is a bit better 🙂