Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rocksmith 2014 - Lessons and 2 Freeze-Ups

My past few posts have seemed a bit negative or harsh. For that I apologize. I just miss the Rocksmith Journey. It provided a bit of direction that seems to be missing from the new version. Not a fatal flaw but definitely something I dislike about 2014. Despite that, I've had a couple of really fun nights of playing, including a good bit of time spent in Riff Repeater.

A New Song to Learn - More than a Feeling

First, I gave up on Walk This Way - for now. Trying to play something over my head was only leading to frustration and negativity, and Joe Perry's guitar stuff is clearly over my head.

Despite having almost no faith in RS-2014's difficulty rating algorithm, I sorted my song list on "difficulty" and picked something on the easy end of the list: Boston's More Than a Feeling. According to RS-2014, More than a Feeling is the 7th easiest song on my song list. This song is much closer to my ability level, and it also happens to be a song that I've enjoyed for many years. (Keep in mind, I have all the songs from original Rocksmith and RS-2014 plus my own assortment of DLC which likely differs from yours. So, More than a Feeling may not be the 7th easiest song on your list, but it's going to be among your easier songs.)

I'm having much more fun now. Gotta remember to play songs in my league.

[Eventually when I have some good data, I'll try to apply my Easiness Formula to the 2014 songs and see how my results compare with RS-2014's Difficulty algorithm.]

Other Songs

I've checked out several songs just for fun - no intent of really "learning" them right now. Just "noodling around" in multi-player mode with my son. In addition to Walk This Way, I've played My Generation, Born Under a Bad Sign, X-Kid, Round and Round (E-flat tuning - a pain in the ass), Thnks fr th Mmrs, Knockin' on Heaven's Door, Smooth, and Gold on the Ceiling (Drop D tuning). Most of these are new for 2014.

Rocksmith 2014 includes lots of non-standard tunings. There's a few E-flats, a couple of E-flat/Drop Ds, and a handful of regular Drop Ds. Nice move on RS-2014, but I really don't like playing the E-flat tunings; you have to retune the whole damn guitar! I may just designate one guitar for E-flat songs and switch guitars instead of re-tuning every time. That's what the pros do, right? And, it's not like I have a guitar shortage.

Update on GAS Pains

Thanks to Rocksmith, I'm up to six electric guitars that I actually play (plus a couple of junkers that'll end up being wall decorations - one my daughter accidentally let fall out of the back of our van and cracked the neck. . . ). Also two acoustics, including the one I've owned since I was 14 (but not counting the one I use as a decoration in our foyer). Oh, plus the bass. My son has 2. And, my daughter still has her pink Washburn. So, that's a total of 15 guitars. I've actually sold a couple in the past year to get down to this number (my Epi LP Spl II and the Epi LP Jr.)! Ridiculous. I need to sell more.

None of these guitars was terribly expensive - $400 - $500 is the most I've paid for any of my guitars. But, to tell you the truth, I've got an Epiphone LP Special (without the II) with P90 pick-ups that I grabbed NEW, on sale at GC for $90 and it's probably one of my favorites to play. I like to emphasize that you don't need an expensive guitar to play. Yes, there's a difference between a "cheap" guitar and a good guitar - but that difference is not always reflected by the price you pay for the guitar.

WARNING: Like the original game, I suspect Rocksmith 2014 will cause you to spend money on guitars! And strings.And straps. And cases. And wall hangers, tuners, amps, pedals, capos,. . . etc.

I have not played drums for several months. I had a paying gig back in the summer that went pretty well (I thought), but apparently the guy who ran that band liked somebody else better than me. Which worked out nicely because I got very busy with softball tournaments after that. Then I dislocated my elbow, and here we are in November. I'm seriously thinking of selling some or possibly all of my drums and picking up some congas, timbales, and other stuff instead. I can always buy another set later if I change my mind.

Anyway. . .


One new thing in RS-2014 are the Missions. Missions pop up on the upper, right-hand corner of the screen along with other messages, and then they disappear. If you're not watching, you'll miss your next mission. It'll show up again, but randomly - not when you want to see it. Apparently there's a place to look at your mission list, but I haven't found it yet. I don't really like Missions.

Missions seem to have no purpose other than getting you to explore the different parts of Rocksmith - especially Tone Designer. My Missions have ranged from lessons to riff repeater to guitarcade games, but they seem to constantly require me to go into Tone Designer and switch pedals around. I never messed with the tones and pedals in the original Rocksmith and I'm not interested in messing with them now. Tone designer is a great feature in Rocksmith and it's probably worth the price of the game IF you're into experimenting with your sound. I'm not. I'm perfectly happy to use the pre-set tones for each song. I know this limits my guitar playing, but keep in mind that I'm actually a DRUMMER. I get annoyed waiting for guitar players to TUNE; when they start fiddling with knobs and pedals, I go get a drink and hang out until they're ready to play.

Completing Missions earns you points which can be redeemed on the UPlay site for prizes. At the moment, you have your choice of exactly 4 prizes: two songs, a special single player arrangement, and the official Ubisoft fret inlay. OK - it's pretty cool that we can use mission points to get songs. But, if Missions are meant to be the replacement for the original Rocksmith's Journey game element, I'm afraid the development team missed the mark by a mile.

Missions also earn in-game prizes like fret markers, skins for amps and venue levels. In other words, eye candy. However, unlike the old Rocksmith guitars, that you got for completing Events but couldn't see unless you wanted to dig into the menus and scroll through your collection, you can actually see the skins on your amps and speaker cabs in RS-2014. Of course, you have to go to Tone Designer to change them out. Haven't figured out the fret markers. . . I can't even see them when I tune. The venues just show up automatically as you earn them. They're pretty subtle; it's unlikely you'll notice the difference between one venue level and the next. I'm on level 3 now. FWIW.

I've also done some independent navigating around the game just to get the lay of the land without the Missions guiding me. At this point, I've at least checked out every option from the main menu.


After switching to a new, much easier, more realistic song, I checked out several lessons, starting with the introductory stuff: Attaching the Strap, Holding the Guitar - Standing, and Holding the Guitar - Sitting. The intro lessons are just basic short videos - nothing fancy but nicely done. After reviewing those I moved on to the 101 series lessons: Picking (I've been doing it wrong. . . ), Shifting, Slides, Bends, and Legato. The actual lessons are more hands-on. Very similar to the old Technique Challenges but much more thorough. There's a little live video with an instructor followed by a demonstration, and then a chance for you to practice. Repeat as needed. Each technique or skill has it's own practice lick like a little song. When you finish playing those, you get an overall percentage and two separate scores - a correct note count, total note count and percentage of each for the complete exercise and for the specific technique.

For example, on the Legato lesson, I topped out with a 96.4% overall, a 98% note percentage (136/138 notes) and a 96% on the technique (59/61 legatos correctly played). I'm not entirely sure where the overall percentage comes from. . . I got a 96% and 96% on the Slide lesson, but my overall percentage was a 90%. Odd.

You get a pretty good idea of how well you did on the lesson. And, you get the chance to try again as many times as you want. Surprisingly, it took me several tries to score a 100% on Legatos but only 3 attempts to max Slides. Maybe I'm getting better at slides. . . ?

Technique Guides are sort of lesson reviews. They don't include any video or instruction to speak of. They're just mainly summaries of the main points.

Bad News - 2 Total Freeze-Ups So Far

Overall, things have worked perfectly with the new 2014 version, but in less than 2 weeks of play I have had two complete freeze-ups that required me to either shut down my entire XBox or restart Rocksmith.

The first freeze happened on the 21st, the first or second time I played RS-2014. That was the one where my whole XBox froze and had to have a hard reboot. When it happened I was working on the 4th phrase of Walk this Way in Riff Repeater. Not sure what caused the freeze.

The second  freeze happened a couple of days ago while I was diddling around on my guitar and a song was still loading. I could still hear my guitar through the speakers, but the song never loaded and I couldn't back out to the main menu or anything else. I didn't have to reboot the XBox but I did have to go to XBox home and restart Rocksmith.


I've also checked out Session Mode and Nonstop Play. I'll cover those next time as well as a more in-depth look at the all-new, totally improved and very awesome Riff Repeater.


  1. I love Rocksmith when it works. But it has frozen up on me so many times and so frequently that I have thrown the disc across the room and gone back to printed music in a book. I wish they'd fix their shit, but clearly they have no intention of doing it. Both versions give me regular problems, but 2014 is actually worse about freezing and crashing than the original.

  2. I love Rocksmith when it works. But it has frozen up on me so many times and so frequently that I have thrown the disc across the room and gone back to printed music in a book. I wish they'd fix their shit, but clearly they have no intention of doing it. Both versions give me regular problems, but 2014 is actually worse about freezing and crashing than the original.