Back in plastic.
Activision is reviving the Guitar Hero series this fall with the first entry in the franchise since 2010. Developed by DJ Hero studio FreeStyleGames, Guitar Hero Live appears as a dramatic change from prior Guitar Hero titles visually and mechanically.
As demonstrated by the first official trailer, Guitar Hero Live uses live-action footage (shot in first-person perspective) instead of rendered graphics to depict bandmates and the audience during play across a variety of venues and songs. As a song progresses, the footage dynamically changes to reflect positive or negative reactions based on the player’s performance.
Game design elements central to the series have also been overhauled in an effort to make the game more accessible to newcomers and offer new challenges for veterans. A new guitar controller designed specifically for the game features two rows of three buttons, eliminating the player’s need to move their hand up and down the neck. This reduces the number of lanes notes will travel (from five in prior games to three in Guitar Hero Live), but simultaneously increases the range of possible combinations by allowing for two different note types for each track.
In addition to the first-person campaign, the game will ship with a mode called “GHTV,” which Activision’s press release refers to as, “the world’s first playable music video network.” An online mode, it offers players a constantly updating collection of official music videos to play along with, organized in channels and themed programming or accessible for on-demand play.
Perhaps the most interesting announcement of all relates to platforms. Guitar Hero Live will be available for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Wii U, but it doesn’t stop at home consoles. The full version of the game will also be playable on tablets and phones, with Activision promising further details regarding mobile platforms in the near future.
All of the changes come with one huge downside: Guitar Hero Live will not be backwards compatible with any prior Guitar Hero DLC players may have already purchased. If you were hoping to transition that massive catalog of back tracks you collected over the years, you’re out of luck.