Tales of the Rampant Coyote

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Rocksmith Celebrates its Birthday with a New Edition

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 4, 2016

This week, the Ubisoft Rocksmith team celebrates the anniversaries of both Rocksmith and Rocksmith 2014. It’s been five years since the release of the original game (it was originally console-only), and about three years since the 2013 release of the sequel.

The original release was a genuine success for a new idea with new technology. They were very cautious about releasing it as an educational tool, and so it was marketed a bit like a Guitar Hero where you use a real guitar. Much more like a game. The technology had a lot more flaws, the flow could get dang annoying, and the original song pack was not super-exciting. A few DLC packs later, though, and it had a pretty decent library.

Then in October 2013, the sequel was released. You know, labeled Rocksmith 2014 because it was released in 2013. Marketing.

RS2_1024x768Rocksmith 2014 fixed almost all the problems in the first game. DLC became a weekly event, and has been going strong for three years, with short breaks for holidays. They are up to nearly 900 songs now, which is impressive no matter how you look at it. Serving both bass and six-string guitars, and providing note-perfect charts for all the guitar parts (and sometimes guitar substitutions for other instruments), it’s a fantastic practice tool. It’s most popular features are “Learn a Song” – a digital songbook with ramping difficulty level all the way up to a full chart (and beyond, requiring you to play from memory) – and the “Riff Repeater” which allows you to practice parts of a song, varying the speed and completeness of the charts so you can work your way up to perfection. The software also has lessons for learning various techniques, from the extremely basic (how to hold a guitar) to advanced (like tapping). It has a number of arcade-style games for practicing those techniques; a tone customization library to experiment with simulated amplifiers, cabinets, and effects; a competitive leaderboard system with four different skill levels so everyone can (kinda) compete; two-player modes; and a “session mode” where you can just jam away.

I had decades of pretty much zero progress from being an “advanced beginner” at a guitar. It all came down to practice (or lack thereof). I’d get back into it for about two or three weeks every year, telling myself that THIS TIME I’d stick with it. I’d recover some calluses, recover my skill back to my previous playing ability, and… that’d be it. Same time next year. I’d done a little bit more with Rock Band 3 with a custom MIDI guitar controller (which was okay), and with the original Rocksmith (which was better). With the release of Rocksmith 2014, I committed to practicing at least a little bit daily. Sometimes it was only 10 or 15 minutes, but on the average it was closer to 40 minutes of daily practice. Still nowhere near what I should be doing to really, truly “get good” at the guitar. But while lately I’m more of an “every other day” kinda player, I’ve clocked about 600 hours into the game, plus a fraction of that offline / unplugged.

It worked. I have a tough time remembering what I was like when I first started, aside from being completely incapable of what I’m doing now. No, I’m nowhere near being able to melt faces with my shredding skills yet. I’m still very much an “intermediate.” But the difference between what I can do now versus what I could do then is huge… and it’s been (almost) all Rocksmith. So it’s not really a question of “does it work?” so much as “how well does it work?” That’s harder to quantify, but the answer is, “pretty good.” Naturally, quality personalized instruction is impossible to beat, but even with that, it still comes down to practicing a LOT.  Rocksmith 2014 makes that a lot more fun and efficient.

And now they’ve released a new edition of the game: “Rocksmith 2014 Remastered Edition.” Not a sequel (yet), but a new edition.  It’s out in stores this week for the people who haven’t tried it yet. Maybe they were waiting to find out if it really works or not. Well, three years later, they’ve got a ton of success stories.  Anyway, new players will enjoy some new features and a lot of usability tweaks. Nothing gigantic, but they address some key issues. Mine was the lack of having multiple “playlists” – just favorites and everything else. That’s been addressed, and I can’t wait to set up my custom playlists! The Riff Repeater mode has enjoyed a number of usability tweaks to make it more efficient. Menu and mode navigation has been cleaned up and streamlined. Nothing earthshaking, but good enhancements.

The new edition also includes six new songs packed into the starting library:

  • “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley & The Wailers
  • “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley
  • “Some Nights” by FUN.
  • “I Want You Back” by Jackson 5
  • “Hey Ya!” by Outkast
  • “Drops of Jupiter” by Train


The thing that strikes me is that they are going for a breadth of styles here. While maybe not strictly “rock” they are at least “rock adjacent.” I’m pretty sure the goal was to sweeten the pot a bit for more diverse musical tastes. I can’t complain. I like all of the songs, though none are going to be at the top of my practice list for a while.

The code updates are free updates to all Rocksmith 2014 owners, effective immediately. (A downside for some is that it makes unofficial “custom” DLC no longer work. Not a big deal on my end.) So we all get the Remastered Edition, free! Yay! The new songs are only free for new buyers… existing owners can purchase it as a DLC pack.

I would expect this will be the final feature update for RS2014. Next up… a sequel? Who knows?  As far as I’m concerned, if the Ubisoft guys were to roll up the shop tomorrow and call it quits, I’d be sad, but I’d probably still be playing it in 2024.


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