Last week Rock Band VR released exclusive for the Oculus Rift with Touch. The long-running franchise has been around for years and led to countless plastic-instrument wielding families around the world to live out their rock star fantasies from the comfort and shelter of their living rooms. Now, that dream is extended into the immersive landscape of VR with a new Freestyle Mode and single player only affair that delivers on the promise of transporting players onto the stage like never before.
It has its issues, but we were more impressed than expected with the series’ debut in VR. You can read our review for more on that game.
Now this week we’ve got Guitar Godz VR, an indie Kickstarter project from Kahn Jekarl that’s aimed at not only the Oculus Rift, but HTC Vive and PlayStation VR (PSVR) headsets as well. You won’t be able to see the guitar when you look down, but the note highway is attached to your head movement so no matter where you’re looking, you can always see the notes cascading into your line of sight.
On the one hand this limits the immersion since you don’t feel as much a part of the world without an articulated peripheral to look down and interact with, but at the same time you get the classic note highway without losing the view of the crowd — something Rock Band VR’s Classic Mode currently lacks. In fact, in Guitar Godz VR, players will even be able to watch actual real concert footage while playing, not just animated characters, lending a degree of flexibility we haven’t seen in these sorts of games yet. Rock Band has always been animated only and Guitar Hero Live went the full live action only route.
According to the Kickstarter pitch, the team working on the project has members of the former Rock Band team at Harmonix, as well as developers that have worked on projects like the Call of Duty franchise, GTA 5, Red Dead Redemption, Bioshock, and more. That’s a good sign for whether they have the talent to pull this off and also helps explain the realistic, albeit large, targeted budget of $500,000.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Guitar Godz VR is that unlike with Rock Band VR a peripheral device isn’t necessary. You can still hook up your guitars that you’ve got laying around and play that way — it’s probably the best way to play — but if you’ve only got Vive wands, PS Move controllers, or Oculus Touch controllers, then you can still enjoy the game. It’s a little unclear how that works in the video, so we reached out to Jekarl for more information:
“For the PSVR Move controllers, while there are enough buttons on one Move controller to support all five frets, we found it’s better to spread the frets across the two move controllers. The complexity lies in hitting multi-button chords. We’ve found a layout which allows players to hit all two-button chord combinations and most three-button chords. Currently, you just strum the right Move controller up and down to register a strum.
The HTC Vive controller is similar to the move in that we spread the five buttons across the 2 controllers, with the right controller used for strumming.
The Oculus Touch controllers are actually the easiest, as you can put all five buttons on the left controller since the thumbstick is also a button. We may settle on also having the 5th fret on the right controller as well, to give options to players.”
While you don’t get to see any high-level gameplay in the trailer above, Jekarl assures me they will have the traditional Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert curve with plenty of songs that even the development team have trouble getting 100% completion on in Expert difficulties.
Obviously, one of the most important aspects of any music game is the track list and while the team isn’t ready to divulge any specifics due to ongoing licensing discussions, it sounds promising. “We’re not discussing specific songs just yet, but if you think of the biggest artists in rock history, that’s who we’re bringing in,” said Jekarl. “Stars of the British Invasion in the 60’s, the psychedelic rock of the 70’s, the big hair bands of the 80’s, the grunge rock of the 90’s up to the modern day, those are the types of bands and songs we want in Guitar Godz VR.”
From the looks of it, Guitar Godz VR is aiming to be a much more faithful recreation of the music genre in VR than even Rock Band VR is. For PSVR users, Jekarl even explains that the non-VR user will be able to play bass alongside the VR guitar player with a guitar controller, bringing an element of local multiplayer into the mix. No other instruments are planned at this time, so drummers and vocalists have to sit this one out as well.
The road to half a million dollars is long, but Guitar Godz VR certainly looks promising enough. If the team fails, Jekarl tells me they’ve spoken with investors that will hopefully help make the game a reality. It’s currently slated for a November 2017 release date, which likely means the bulk of the funds are for licensing agreements since development seems to already be quite far along.
Does this look like the kind of music game you’d play in VR? Which headset would you be interested in playing this on? Let us know in the comments below!