Posted January 30, 2014 by Matthew Dawe in Feature

Three things sorely missing from Rocksmith 2014

Despite playing guitar for over a decade, I’ve lacked the dedication to rise above the intermediate skill level where I’ve effectively plateaued. Actively pursuing new techniques, skills and songs would no doubt help me improve, but the temptation to simply “have a jam” is infinitely easier and always get the better of me. It’s enough to get by, but it also means I’m stuck playing the same old tunes and never really improving as a musician.

This has changed recently thanks to Ubisoft’s Rocksmith 2014, which plays similarly to the old Guitar Hero games but implements a real guitar or bass via a USB lead. Thanks to some slick design, intuitive gameplay which adapts to your skill level in real time, a varied tracklist and interactive tutorials, Rocksmith 2014 has reignited my passion for playing music and demonstrated that learning new things needn’t be a chore.

That said, there are some overlooked features that have made the experience less enjoyable and intuitive as it might have been. Here are three things I’d love to see implemented in the next edition of Rocksmith or, even better, introduced in the current iteration via patch.

Smaller song segments

Rocksmith 2014’s Riff Repeater function allows players to loop a segment of a song and focus on the parts that are regularly tripping them up. From there you can adjust difficult (i.e. the number of notes which appear), speed, error tolerance, and more.

Riff Repeater

The downside is that segments are set within predetermined blocks which can’t be reduced beyond what the game offers. In others words, you can loop an entire song, or just an intro or pre-chorus, but never a single riff. This make intricate note runs tedious as you’re often forced to replay the many preceding notes you’ve already mastered. In short, let the player decide what constitutes a ‘segment,’ and it will go a long way towards improving the experience.

A tablature notation guide

Rocksmith 2014 conveniently provides tutorials for every conceivable guitar technique, from simple hammer-ons and pull-offs, to more complex pitch harmonics and finger tapping. The problem, though, is that an unrecognised notation mid-song can be hard to trace back to the relevant tutorial. As one visitor to Ubisoft’s forums aptly put it: “It’s like searching the dictionary for a word you don’t know how to spell.”

Chords tutorial

Chords tutorial

Granted, the game provides performance-based feedback on what techniques the player should pursue, but these are often randomised recommendations that overlook the convenience of an immediately accessible guide. Why such a feature wasn’t included in the game’s manual is puzzling, and though Ubisoft has since provided an online PDF guide for players to browse, it’s still unnecessary time and energy spent away from the actual game.

Pause, forward, back, and hold functions

Technically Rocksmith 2014 does has a pause function, but it brings up a list of unavoidable options which conveniently obscure the notes below, then reverts to the start of a loop when the player exits. As such, if you want to pause mid-song to browse a difficult section, you’re out of luck. Similarly, the inability to cycle forward and back between sections from a pause state is frustrating. I understand why these features don’t exist in the game’s levelling and competitive modes (players could exploit these features to improve leaderboard rankings), but this problem carries over into Riff Repeater, which is essentially a practice mode that has no bearing on rankings.


One of Rocksmith 2014's numerous mini games

One of Rocksmith 2014‘s numerous mini games

Lastly, many of Rocksmith 2014′s minigames naturally ‘hold’ a note until it’s played correctly, giving players the opportunity to get it right. This is a particularly useful feature which deters bad habits and poor technique commonly developed through rushing. Why, then, is this feature not available for actual songs? As something that would make the learning process of a difficult track markedly easier and quicker, the lack of a hold feature is Rocksmith 2014’s most frustrating omission.

Are there any other features you’d wish to see implemented? Sound off below!

Matthew Dawe

Matt was originally reared on Nintendo's earliest consoles, but has since immersed himself with games across all platforms and genres. While it would not be unusual for him to complete 40+ games in a standard year, Matt’s favourite experiences are typically tailored to open-world sandboxes and third person action games. In 2012, Matt completed a Bachelor of Journalism and Communications degree at the University of Queensland, before joining RC the following year.


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