Rocksmith 2014 Xbox One Impressions

Rocksmith 2014 on Xbox One Still Rocks

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Rocksmith 2014 Xbox One box. Ubisoft

Buy Rocksmith 2014 at Amazon.com

We're huge fans of Ubisoft's Rocksmith games as they really are a great way to learn to play real guitar.  After two wildly successful releases on Xbox 360, the company has brought Rocksmith 2014 to the current-gen on Xbox One.  We take a look at this new release right here.

What Is Rocksmith?

For starters, Rocksmith is a guitar teaching tool (which means that, yes, you need a real electric guitar to play it - no toy guitars here) that features a number of lessons that will teach you everything from the true basics (there's even tutorials on putting new strings on your guitar) all the way up to the more complicated and intimidating things about playing guitar.

  By using tools such as dynamic difficulty that slowly adds more notes to the song as you play properly, a riff repeater that lets you practice song parts over and over, and arcade-style minigames that help you learn and remember chords and scales through repetition, Rocksmith really is a fun and effective way to learn to play guitar.  Plus, it has a huge list of songs available, and I'm a firm believer that you learn to play a lot more quickly by playing songs you actually like.  It also has a neat feature that lets you create your own guitar tones and just noodle around, which is a fun way to apply what you've been learning.

For more specific details on how Rocksmith works, please see my reviews of the original Rocksmith as well as Rocksmith 2014 for Xbox 360

Rocksmith 2014 Xbox One Overview

Rocksmith 2014 on Xbox One isn't a new entry in the series, just a port of Rocksmith 2014 that was released for PS3 and X360 in 2013.

  This is more of a "If you missed it the first time around" type of release more than something series fans necessarily need to buy.  It does feature 1080p visuals, but beyond that you're probably just fine sticking with your last-gen versions for now.  Unfortunately, due to the digital nature of the Xbox One, this version adds some slight latency issues not present on the 360, which is another reason to stick to last-gen.

  We'll talk about that more below. 

Rocksmith 2014 has had a full year's worth of new songs released as DLC since it was released on Xbox 360, and all of those songs, plus most of the on-disc songs from the original Rocksmith (available via an Import Pack), are available for the Xbox One version.  If you already bought them on 360, you'll be able to re-download them on XONE for free.  So you've got 55 on-disc songs in Rocksmith 2014, plus hundreds more as DLC.  Not a bad way to launch a music game, right?

While the DLC transfers from 360 to XONE, your save files do not.  So if you have already played a bunch on the 360 and want to shift to the XONE version, your progress won't carry over and you'll have to do everything again. 

Something else worth mentioning is that if you do want to move up from last gen, you won't have to buy the expensive set with the Real Tone Cable again.  If you already have the cable from the 360 (or any other) version, that same cable will work on XONE since it is just a normal USB connection.  If you don't have a cable already, you can buy a set that comes with the game plus a cable.  Or you could buy the cable by itself (for around $30), and buy the game separately via digital download (an Xbox One retail version without the cable isn't available at the moment).

  You have to have the cable to play the game, though, so keep that in mind before you go digital.

Rocksmith 2014 Xbox One Impressions

Now onto some specifics about the Xbox One version.  The upgrade to 1080p visuals is certainly appreciated, but the increased fidelity doesn't really change the way the game plays.  The note highway has always been bright and clear and easy to read, so even though it is sharper here, it doesn't really make a meaningful difference.

Something nice about the Xbox One version is that you can use Kinect voice commands to navigate the menus, which makes using the game a lot easier since you don't have to constantly pick up a controller to do everything.

  This feature was also available on the 360 version, but works better on the ONE.  I might of had to repeat myself a time or two, but it was still easier than having to pick up a controller. 

Another fancy "next-gen" feature of the Xbox One (and PS4) poses more of a problem, however, and that is the lack of analog audio output.  This is problematic because digital audio on Xbox One causes slight lag, which makes playing accurately difficult.  In fact, the game is absolutely unplayable if you just hook the HDMI cable to your TV, as the audio lags a good 1.5+ seconds or so behind what you're playing.  Ubisoft recommends you use an optical audio cable from the XONE to your sound system or headphones, and while this greatly reduces the lag, it doesn't get rid of it completely.  It cuts it down to a couple tenths of a second, which isn't bad and you can get used to it, but it isn't optimal.  True guitar beginners might not even notice it, but if you're used to playing through an amplifier that responds immediately to what you play, any sort of delay can throw you off.  I want to make it clear that the lag isn't awful or anything, and I spent several hours with the game and had fun, but it isn't perfect.     

Just for reference, on the 360 you could have an HDMI cable and standard red/white audio cables connected at the same time, so you'd run the HDMI to your TV and the audio cable to your sound system or headphones, which eliminated any sort of lag almost entirely. 

Bottom Line

All in all, Rocksmith 2014 for Xbox One is a solid release, but it isn't the definitive version of the game.  It really is just another option to choose from depending on what systems you have.  Don't consider it an upgrade if you already have the Xbox 360 version.  It really is just the same game again on a new platform.  With that said, there is slightly more audio lag on the Xbox One version, which means I'd rank it below the 360 version.  It certainly isn't a bad choice if you only have an Xbox One and want to learn to play guitar, but if you have other systems available (such as an Xbox 360 or PS3) I'd recommend getting that version of Rocksmith 2014 instead.  Any new DLC released will work for all versions of the game, so you aren't missing out on anything by sticking to last-gen.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

Buy Rocksmith 2014 at Amazon.com