Rocksmith 2020 Review: The Best and Worst Virtual Guitar Trainer (2023)

Rocksmith 2020 has the potential to be an excellent virtual guitar trainer, but several design decisions hold it back. On the positive side:

  • The note recognition system is intuitive and teaches guitar notation in a fun, game-like way. It uses colored strings to represent guitar strings and scrolling note tracks to show where to fret notes.

  • It offers a variety of difficulty levels that dynamically adjust the complexity of the notation based on your skill level. This allows beginners to start simply and work their way up.

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  • The game includes useful tutorials and exercises that teach important guitar techniques like hammer-ons, pull-offs, tremolo, and vibrato.

However, Rocksmith 2020 also has some major flaws:

  • The song list is disappointing, lacking many well-known rock classics and focusing too much on obscure and unpopular songs. This limits its effectiveness as a learning tool.

  • There is no logical progression of skills taught through the song list. Songs labeled as "beginner" still require advanced techniques, and there are few songs that build on skills you have already learned.

  • The app version is unreliable, failing to recognize many notes accurately, especially lower bass notes. This makes the app essentially unusable for bass players.

  • The subscription model is expensive for the limited quantity and quality of songs available. Players must pay $15-$20 per month for access.

  • The tutorials lack personality and charm, feeling like dry university lectures rather than engaging lessons. They would benefit from a more game-like approach to teaching techniques.

In summary, while Rocksmith 2020 has a solid foundation in its notation system, poor song selection, a disorganized curriculum, and other issues hold it back from achieving its full potential as a virtual guitar teacher. With improvements in these areas, Rocksmith could once again become the gold standard for guitar-learning software.

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