Continuing from last week’s post, I’ve been playing Rocksmith: 2014 Edition in an attempt to consolidate my basic guitar skills into an actual, usable talent. It may be a long road ahead.
Week number two of learning Rocksmith started with a bang – or perhaps more accurately, a twang, as my top E string had clearly had enough of my nonsense and snapped mid-play, tearing a nice half-inch deep scar in my finger. Delicious. Still, with every door closed a window opens (or something like that), and while my new order of strings took a few days to arrive I decided to take the opportunity to whack out the bass guitar in the six string’s stead.
The only difference I could really note in terms of gameplay when comparing Rocksmith with a bass or a standard guitar is the difficulty. Bass is on the whole a simpler instrument, foregoing most of the technical stuff and lending itself to just chugging along with the rhythm and keeping everyone in time, but Rocksmith doesn’t seem to want to compensate for this, and doesn’t present nearly as much of a challenge. Sure, some of the heavy metal songs require some gnarly right-hand finger endurance (notably Iron Maiden’s classic ‘gallop’ rhythms which made me feel arthritic) but on the fretting side of things, it felt like a bit of a jaunt, which I was hardly expecting since I haven’t played the bass for half as long as I have my six string.
This doesn’t mean I could play every song the first time, but I should certainly hope not, as I have discovered that Rocksmith really opens up a whole lot through repetition of songs. This isn’t Guitar Hero where you select a difficulty, throw on a song and do your best to remember the sequence of colours to hit. Rocksmith’s adaptive difficulty means it gets a little more complex every time you play it, expanding especially on areas you’ve done well in before, meaning you always have a point to improve on. It’s smart, and acts as a very patient means of learning. That said, it can be a little too unforgiving in the higher fret areas; while frets 1 to 9 are really very simple muscle memory, it’ll often throw a chain at you of frets as high as 15, 17, or 18. I’ve had a guitar for a long time, but you’ll have to give me a second to remember where those guys are, they don’t come in useful all that often!
As a faithful Twinfiknight informed me in the comments of last week’s entry, you can indeed flip the order of the strings on-screen, which was really my biggest complaint of the game’s mechanics. It’s certainly helped, and my flurry and panic at being thrown higher stringed notes has significantly decreased. There are still some growing pains with learning the colour coding, but compared to how I was just a week ago, I’ve come in leaps and bounds. Learning!
Overall I’m pretty amazed at the general functionality of Rocksmith, effectively turning my computer into an amp (that, through headphones, sounds better than my real amp) as well as a teaching machine. Session mode has proved to be a great time not just for jamming out with drums and bass that react to your tempo and volume but also as a space for writing new riffs and chord sequences. What I’d like even more would be to set the drums and bass to just play continuously so I can play in my own time rather than have them wait for me to start. Can it be done?
Regardless, I’m hugely pleased with the progress made from last week. Born from utter confusion is the beginning of truly getting the hang of this instrument, rather than the simple ability to play a few chords and riffs which I had before, even if it is still in its primitive stages. Onwards!