Before the Hero series was “axed” (February 9th to be exact) I was writing this article about how the next incarnation of Guitar Hero might be improved. You’ll notice that I avoided the true solution to “save Guitar Hero” which is clearly to make a game with just Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet For My Valentine, and Slipknot songs. Whether there will be another Guitar Hero is something nobody knows for sure but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of discussion, right?
After the game journalists chewed Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock up and spit it out the GH Community was left wondering if there truly was anything that Activision (with help from a developer of course) could do to re-invigorate this wonderful round note based franchise.
I have been playing and been part of the community of Guitar Hero since it’s inception so I have been there for all the up’s and the very many downs. It almost seemed like every sequel Guitar Hero released came with a new kind of complaint, some justified and others due to an enlarged growing sense of self-entitlement.
At it’s core right now Guitar Hero is perfect. Now when I say at it’s “core” I mean the actual gameplay. Not the setlist, not the user interface, and certainly not some obscure scoring glitch that only tick-hording monsters on Scorehero care about.
Aside from perhaps a better calibration system and maybe a tad more lenient strumming engine I have next to no complaints regarding Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock’s engine for plastic guitar, drums, bass, or vocals.
So then what can be improved? Let’s explore a few of the options that run through my head as I type this:
Look at The Competition
One of the huge deals for the blogosphere with Rock Band 3 was the inclusion of Pro Mode. Whether you bought a Pro Guitar or not was a totally different matter but the fact is that when even PowerGig has a six stringed guitar it may be time for Guitar Hero to follow suit. The main challenge of course will be to not only develop a comparably cost efficent set of peripherals for Pro Guitar but also to make the interface for Pro Guitar comparable to the work Harmonix has done while keeping the circular notation we are so familiar with in Guitar Hero.
Another challenge of course will be maintaining the momentum of difficult guitar songs from Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock in a new game which gives you an option of learning the song on real guitar. A lofty problem indeed.
Rock Band Network
It’s been a growing trend among the hardcore to spend more “points” on the RBN marketplace than the actual DLC that Harmonix offers them. Many of the bands offered by RBN have high difficulty levels for most instruments and many extreme metal bands have been brought to the platform thanks to this. Driven by super fans of the genre the RBN has brought forth amazing content while not depleting resources or time from the official charters. This seems like a perfect and obvious solution to Guitar Hero’s reluctance to release a consistent schedule of downloadable content weekly.
It worked in Guitar Hero 3 but for some reason we never saw it come back. Imagine how much easier it would be to find a game if you could simply see a list of rooms if you so desired. You could simply scroll to a “Band Room” that had 3/4 people and click join while having it take into account what instrument you had selected. Of course the option we have now is fine but this would probably fix many of the “why can’t I find a pro face off game!” woes.
GHTracks (formerly GHTunes) have been around since Guitar Hero World Tour, and over time our community has become better and better at creating either amazing covers of existing songs or fun original compositions for everyone to play. Why not allow players to experience these songs online? They would only take 30 seconds to download if someone didn’t already have the song and it would definitely make for some great videos on youtube.
While we are on the subject it would be great if PS3/360 shared the same GHTunes! I understand why Wii can’t join the party as their are certain differences with their Studio/MIDI sounds.
I bet you are reading this and thinking? Wait a second he wants “BATTLE MODE” back in? Well not exactly. I think that there should be a competitive mode which has a number of original compositions for Guitar/Bass/Drums/Vocals of differing genres. This would in a way be much like DJ Hero 2’s “Battle Mode” where you trade off to see who is the master of your instrument.
Just imagine a crossroads-esque duel between you and a worthy opponent with each coming solo getting more intricate and challenging.
Of course I haven’t put much thought into vocals although I think a “Scat Battle” (get your mind out of the gutters) would be quite amazing.
More Options (Online)
Restart Song: seriously? This isn’t an option yet? COME ON ALREADY
Change Difficulty (after failing): This is a serious problem for drummers that may enjoy playing Expert+ on “Been Caught Stealing” but not so much on “If You Want Peace… Prepare for War”
Venue Select: Or maybe just a way to blacklist certain menus from online play… I’m looking at you Wormhole!
Hyperspeed: We have it in Party Play so why not Quickplay+ ?
Out with the Old…
Graphics / Art Style
I think it’s time we say goodbye.
Goodbye to Axl, Judy, Lars, Pandora, Izzy, and Eddie Knox.
Goodbye to over-the-top fantastical venues that look inspired by World of Warcraft.
It’s a major complaint of most reviews that the graphical style of Guitar Hero is well… Ugly. Personally I don’t see it that way but there’s nothing wrong with taking some constructive criticism to heart after nine games right?
I’m no art director, and I’m not saying to make the game look like the competitors, but I do think that the menu system should take some cues from DJ Hero 2 with it’s sleek minimalist approach for future Hero related endeavours. Especially when it comes to the setlist screen which while Warriors of Rock had a good start on navigation it could still benefit from obvious fixes.
The CAC feature has been built off the Guitar Hero World Tour model for far too long. How about we go above and beyond with customization? A wide variety of color palletes, sliders to adjust everything under the sun, and some pre-made faces for those too lazy to go through the trouble.
Perhaps a Kinect integration which scans you into the game while allowing you to record a victory/fail “dance” and possibly several taunts (think Street Fighter II continue screen).
Nobody wants to play the whole setlist to unlock that one song anymore. Don’t make that mistake again guys.
HEY! We have Double Bass now!
Shouldn’t Guitar Hero be selling single drum bass pedals in stores/online? I mean Expert+ drumming is a huge draw for Guitar Hero and yet the only way to buy them is by purchasing a whole new drum kit? A common practice unfortunately which brings us to our next issue.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Guitar Hero had a premium drum set akin to the Ion Drum Rocker that had nothing to do with Logitech? One can dream but it seems like we are stuck with the official kits and their seemingly endless slight downfalls of crosstalk and sensitivity issues that can turn a fun day of rocking out into a frustrating rage session.
Not everyone can afford a Roland kit!
Slow Your Roll
Let’s face it, Guitar Hero will never be as popular as it used to be. Therefore it’s very likely many people aren’t going to go out and pick up a Full Band kit every time there is a new game. Activision should consider slowing down the peripheral updates to every two years, or only sell them online or select retailers. Seems like that stack of Band Hero full band kits hasn’t moved at my local EB since November 2009.
New Game Mechanics
Imagine if there was a mode of play where you had to push the correct combination of pedals to match the effect for Guitar/Bass. Of course this would come with a new peripheral but the idea of a fake plastic pedal board sponsored by Line6 and POD makes me smile a bit.
No more charting whammys as trills. Now you have to match the whammied sustain exactly or you lose points. This would be perfect for my ideal game Guitar Hero: Slayer!
Don’t get me wrong, I love bass as much as the next guy, but what if we had the option to choose rhythm on tracks where it was applicable? Take a note from GH2 and GH3 Activision, especially if we ever get Jessica back in the game.
The Official Guitar Hero Forums
For one thing there is no reason why Guitar Hero 5, Band Hero, and Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock should have their own separate sub-forums. It only further divides the small community for no particularly good reason I can think of? It’s not like any new content is coming to GH5/BH so why the segregation?
There needs to be a much MUCH bigger official presence on the forums. Even if no questions are actually getting answered it wouldn’t hurt to have people from Beenox (DLC Charters for GHWOR) Activision, or even Neversoft to answer questions. This would be much appreciated to the dwindling community as opposed to a faceless singular entitity called “GuitarHeroDevs” or “GuitarHeroNews” that seems to constantly disappear only to be replaced with a new general account.
Why can’t we find out about Guitar Hero DLC before it actually comes out? I understand not everyone cares as much as us but waking up at 5 AM EDT to find out we have nothing some weeks gets old after awhile. How great would it be to get a Press Release maybe a week prior to the release of Downloadable Content as opposed to the day of!
In conclusion, there are many different ideas other than “OMG BEST SETLIST EVER” that can bring new life to Guitar Hero. However if your solution is to take away my vocals and drums then I will be happy for once that such suggestions fall upon dead ears.