What We Know:
With Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock, Neversoft is returning to an over the top narrative story mode, reminiscent of Guitar Hero III. This quest mode sees characters transforming into the eponymous Warriors of Rock by (how else?) rocking out. In doing so they get closer to freeing the Demigod of Rock, who has been imprisoned by The Beast, and rescuing his magic guitar. At Gamescom we learned more details about the story mode and the characters' individual powers.
What We're Seeing Now
As a Guitar Hero skeptic and long-time Rock Band fan I was surprised to find that Warriors of Rock is pretty appealing. The game seems to be much closer in tone to Guitar Hero III than Guitar Hero: World Tour. The over the top cutscenes are back and, thanks to the Brutal Legend cover-of-a-metal-LP visual style,they look even more ridiculous than ever.
It feels like Neversoft has stopped trying to create a better Rock Band game than Harmonix (a battle they can never win, in my opinion) and is sticking to what it's good at. Namely, appealing to the sort of rhythm gamers who can get 98% on "Through The Fire And The Flames" in Guitar Hero III. The ultra metal rock fans who want that extra level of challenge that comes with Neversoft's insane expert difficulty setting.
Having experimented (and failed) with the battle mode in Guitar Hero III, the developers have tried going down a slightly different route with the Powers mechanic in Warriors Of Rock. This time each character has a set ability which improves their performance, whether it's building up star power for every 10th consecutive note, or never being able to drop below a 2x score multiplier.
Each of the eight characters has their own little storyline and song list. Each character's track list is built around them, which means you'll find songs in similar genres grouped together here. One character specialises in punk rock, while another focuses on metal and another on classic rock, etc. Once each character has earned enough stars they will transform into a Warrior of Rock.
Transforming into a Warrior of Rock changes the physical appearance of the character, but it also improves their special power. So, instead of a 2x minimum multiplier, you'll receive a 4x minimum multiplier. Once the first four characters have transformed players will reach the first “boss,” Rush's “2112.” The twenty-two minute long song is split into seven levels and, once played to completion, the characters take possession of the Demigod of Rock's legendary guitar. Once all eight characters are transformed the final boss battle takes place and the Demigod is released.
After that point you can revisit all the songs in the game using the combined powers of all eight characters. It also unlocks another chapter containing a collection of songs which apparently rival the difficulty of Dragonforce's “Through The Fire And The Flames.” Scoring points isn't possible in story mode, instead there's a bar that shows your progress towards your next star. The number of stars available in each level has been raised from five to forty. The more powers you have unlocked, the more stars you'll be able to achieve.
You can also gain more stars by completing challenges. Every song in the game has thirteen challenges attached, which are generally designed to train you in the advanced skills, such as hammer ons and pull offs. Challenges are always “active” in all game modes, so you can gain those stars whether you know they exist or not.
All the modes and features added in World Tour are still there, including the music studio and drop-in drop-out quick play. Despite the focus on guitar music, you can use any instrument to play any section of the game, meaning four players can go through the story mode with a drum set each, if they want.
Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock is for those people who like a little tongue in cheek, over the top rock ridiculousness in their rhythm experience. The track list is more mainstream and popular than Rock Band 3's, from what we saw, but there's no real innovation here. It's a fun, safe bet, but those looking for something new and exciting will probably lean towards Rock Band 3, with its new keyboard peripheral and pro gameplay mode.