'Rocksmith 2014' Preview: Hands-On With The Easy Way To Rock Hard (VIDEO)

'Rocksmith 2014 is Ubisoft's revamped guitar workout due on Mac, PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 in October.

The Pitch:

"The all-new Rocksmith 2014 Edition is coming this October 2013 and it's redesigned from the ground up to give you the fastest, most fun guitar learning experience ever created. Rocksmith 2014 Edition includes over 50 new songs, new modes, new features, a completely redesigned interface, and much more."

The Key Features:

  • Cleaned-up menus and overall presentation
  • Session mode lets guitarists jam with auto-generated, 'living' backing bands
  • Tons of new songs
  • Lots of new lessons, mini-games and content


Rocksmith is back - and depressingly, on a personal note, so is our need to practice.

Within minutes of picking up our axe and hammering at a few notes in a recent play-test of the revamped guitar tutor we were suddenly struck by how much we have apparently forgotten since our Rocksmith obsession peaked last year.

It didn't take long to get back in the groove, though - because as far as we can tell, the new Rocksmith is a subtle and yet vast improvement on the original.

First, the basics. There's no lag. The menus are better. The layout of the in-song tablature is clearer and more legible, and bends are more obviously illustrated. It's easier to learn songs, through quicker and more extensive loop-repeating options, straightforwardly adjustable difficulty and a wider selection of mini-games ('Guitarcade') on virtually every key guitar playing mechanic. Oh, and the songs list is excellent - including a few killer tracks that we can't tell you about, but oh, you're going to love them.

There are some brilliant stand-out moments too. Return to Castle Chordead is a Guitarcade game which blends a first-person zombie shooter with a chord-trainer to marvellous, bizarre and addictive effect. Scale Racers is like Need For Speed meets the most tedious task in all of music - learning scales. And the 'Session' mode, in which you can jam with a live backing band who adjust their tone to your mood, is not only smoothly executed, it also comes with a kazoo.

On the downside, there's still no way to read the tabs for songs - which is anathema to the game's purpose, we suppose, but useful in advanced songs to get a sense of where a particular solo or line is heading, ahead of time. The lessons are well made and engaging, but seem a bit long and ponderous to our (non-novice) guitarist's eye. And as ever we'd love to see even more content and songs included.

But overall this looks set to be a tremendous upgrade, and more than enough reason to dust off your guitar (again) and make that one final bid for rock glory.