Guitar Hero Live is an entry in the Guitar Hero series and a reboot of the franchise after the hiatus following Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock in 2010. The core concept is identical: players use a plastic guitar peripheral to play the guitar sections of songs by following the cues on the screen and pressing the matching buttons on the instrument in time. Unlike the contemporary Rock Band 4 there is no backwards compatibility with instruments of content from earlier games. The largest difference compared to earlier titles is in the presentation. In the Guitar Hero Live mode each song is now played from the perspective of the guitarist during a real-world concert setting using full motion video footage. While playing the camera shifts between watching and interacting with the band members and the audience. Based on the player’s performance there are dynamic transitions in the video, as the band members will encourage or scold you and the same goes for the audience.
The game is sold as a bundle with one or two guitar controllers and also as a retail package for the mobile iOS platform where the game itself is downloaded for free with an in-app purchase of $50 to unlock the full digital content. The instrument has been redesigned for six fret buttons instead of three and they are now lined up in two rows of three buttons. There is also a strum bar. While playing notes appear on a scrolling “highway” in the centre of the screen with the video playing behind it. There are three lanes and a white and a black colour is used to differentiate between the top or the bottom row on the instrument. A note becomes a black and white square when two buttons need to be pressed together. Each song can be played in multiple difficulty levels. On the casual difficulty only one row of buttons is used (white notes) and on higher ones (starter and especially advanced) there are often quick combinations of buttons in multiple rows. There is also a casual difficulty level where only the strum bar needs to be used. Power chords generally use the top row. Like earlier titles Hero Power (previously called Star Power) can be collected by correctly playing a specific series of blue notes on a track. These are marked with on-screen guitar picks. After collecting it, it can be unleashed at any time by tilting the controller upward or pressing a button at the bottom. Using the power instantly pleases the crowd and can save a performance. Yellow notes are tied to a notestreak. There is a short, interactive tutorial in the begin that explains the controls.
The first part of the game is called Guitar Hero Live. It is an offline story/career mode where the player becomes a guitarist for different fictitious bands playing existing tracks from popular bands on a number of fictitious festivals. Each band plays a set of three or four songs on different stages of the festival and during the day or at night. This portion of the game contains 42 different tracks for different genres such as rock, alternative, metal, rap and dubstep. By completing songs they become available for Quick Play.
The second part of the game is the online Guitar Hero TV mode. It offers multiple channels that stream songs all day long and most of the time different from those in the Guitar Hero Live mode. It was launched with 200 songs and new ones are added regularly. The genre switches after some time. Unlike the offline mode the channels contain video clips and live performances of the songs by the real bands as the player plays along and there are no dynamic interactions in the video. The game tracks the players performance and scores can be compared worldwide. This mode can also be played in split-screen multiplayer. To play specific songs a play coin needs to be used. The coins can be bought with points earned with performances or as microtransactions/in-app purchases for real money. There is a leveling system and the ability to unlock player card skins, different highways and different types of Hero Power to boost score multipliers, decrease note density or clear all notes for a short section. In-game credits earned by completing songs can be used to access a Premium channel with rotating challenges and asynchronous multiplayer against other players for the best scores. This channel often has different songs. Optionally real money can be used to buy in-game credits or a party pass to unlock all features of the game for 30 minutes or 24 hours without having to spend additional credits during that period.
**Please note that the guitar is NOT included**