How does Rocksmith 2014's Multiplayer Work? Brilliantly!

We reviewed Rocksmith 2014 over a month ago and loved it. Since then we've put many hours into its multiplayer mode. How does it work? Very well, as it turns out.

Review by Jaz Rignall, .

A few weeks ago, I wrote a review of Rocksmith 2014 that documented the trials and tribulations my co-reviewer V-Dub and I experienced during the three weeks we spent playing Ubisoft’s guitar-teaching tool. Since then, we’ve continued use it regularly – a testament to how much we both enjoy playing it.

However, there is a downside to us both liking Rocksmith so much – and that is we often fight over playing it. So in an attempt to solve this problem, I bought a second cable so we could play together using the multiplayer mode – something we were unable to do during our review period because obviously we only had one Rocksmith guitar cable.

Well, turns out it’s awesome!

Setting everything up was as simple as single-player. Plug both cables into the USB slots, slide a ¼” jack into each guitar, and off you go! V-Dub wanted to practice bass, and all she needed to do was load her profile, set it to bass with 4 in-line tuners, and that was it - she was ready to go. I wanted to stick with lead guitar, and since I was already set up for that in my profile, we went straight to level check and following a quick bit of tuning, we were literally ready to rock and roll.

Multiplayer mode automatically adjusts the difficulty level for each player, so axe-wielding pro can play along with axe-mangling clown with no issues at all.

Rocksmith multiplayer gives you a variety of co-operative and pseudo-competitive modes, all of which revolve around playing together, or in turn. The really cool thing is that Rocksmith uses the same dynamic difficulty adjustment as its single-player mode – but it treats both players independently. That means each player’s performance is continually analyzed, and notes are dropped in and out of that player’s screen depending on whether they’re struggling, or jamming like a pro. That’s great for V-Dub and I, because since she’s already able to play bass, and I’m still new to the guitar, we’re both being given different levels of challenge – while we’re playing the same song.

We experienced just how far this can go a few nights ago when we were playing The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” a song we’ve played a lot because it’s simple and we both know it very well indeed. I was strumming along to the 30% of the notes the game was giving me (up from the 15% I was playing the previous time), while V-Dub was not only playing 100% of the notes, but her notes started fading out and Master Mode kicked in.

I think that’s brilliant, because I know if we weren’t using Rocksmith and were just practicing together normally using tabs, I’d likely drive V-Dub mad with my inane pluckings and bum notes – I mean, how could she possibly play bass along to that? But Rocksmith 2014 enables us to play as a unit – and I can’t tell you how good that feels. I know I’m still a very poor player, but the way the program works makes me feel confident and lets me enjoy myself, because I have no worries about being a burden or somehow holding back my “band mate” because she has to play down to my level. Indeed, the opposite is true: she’s having fun playing like a pro, and laughing while I muddle along – but knowing that I’m learning and slowly getting better. That’s the real genius here: despite the huge skill level gulf between us, Rocksmith bridges it in a way that not only lets us play together and have fun – we’re both getting what we want out of it. How cool is that?

You'll still fight over screen time for individual lessons, but Rocksmith 2014 lets you practice together as much as you want.

I can’t wait until I’m good enough so we both can start using the multiplayer Jam Session mode to its full potential. We’ve tried a few times already, with me playing some super-simple, repetitive cords, and it was a blast – so I know when I’m good enough to be able to really bang out a tune, we’ll have a huge amount of fun.

Of course, Rocksmith still doesn’t solve the problem that if one of us wants to work on individual lessons and practice techniques, we have to negotiate for screen time. But at least when we both want to play, we can practice together, and it’s a great option to have.

Ultimately, if you and your partner, friend or perhaps even kid have ever wanted to learn to play guitar or bass, being able to share that experience and jam along together is really quite fantastic. So many of the barriers you would normally experience when two people try to learn to play an instrument together are removed. It doesn't matter how fast each is learning, or how big the disparity in skill, Rocksmith brings you together on a musical plane in a way that I would never have imagined possible. It really is a quite extraordinary achievement.

Oh, and if you’re wondering (since I have had a couple of people ask), you can use any electric guitar with a ¼” jack – or an acoustic guitar that’s wired with a pickup and jack to play. V-Dub is currently using a fretless Squire Bass and I’m using a second hand, beat up Epiphone Les Paul – both really good budget buys, it must be said. Though I’m thinking if I can get a little better, maybe I’ll be able to justify buying a nice shiny new axe…

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Comments 10

  • Avatar for Bebsman #1 Bebsman 4 years ago
    Thank you for the article. Can't wait to give multi-player a go my next visit with my son.
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  • Avatar for renatocosta90 #2 renatocosta90 4 years ago
    I really want another cable now to try it out, though it is really difficult to find one here in my country.

    Whenever you feel confident, though, go on to session mode. That mode is amazing for jamming and feel-good, relaxing sessions. I was rather skeptical at first, but my mind was blown (and then some).
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  • Avatar for Jaz_Rignall #3 Jaz_Rignall 4 years ago
    @Bebsman That's great to hear. It's this kind of thing that inspired me to write this second article! The fact that you can play as any combination of lead, rhythm and bass really opens up the possibilities. I hope you both really enjoy playing it!
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  • Avatar for Stefarooh #4 Stefarooh 4 years ago
    Man I cant wait to pick this up - I am hoping Steam is going to have a decent sale on the software this Christmas Sale which gives me time to seek out a guitar since I bought the real-tone cable on-line yesterday with my sights now firmly set on this!
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  • Avatar for Stefarooh #5 Stefarooh 4 years ago
    Man I cant wait to pick this up - I am hoping Steam is going to have a decent sale on the software this Christmas Sale which gives me time to seek out a guitar since I bought the real-tone cable on-line yesterday with my sights now firmly set on this!
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  • Avatar for drbowlarks #6 drbowlarks 4 years ago
    @Jaz_Rignall I was thinking about learning guitar and heard that Rocksmith was a useful tool that aided development as well as being fun to play.

    Wasn't until I Googled "Rocksmith 2014 review" that not only did I stumble across US Gamer and the most valuable review that I've read in years, but also I discovered that it was written by none other than Jaz Rignall.

    The first games mag I ever bought (and when I say "bought" I was 9 so...cheers, Dad) was Mean Machines #2 way back in 1990 and it's an absolute joy to read more from you, sir! Keep up the excellent work!

    P.S. I've bought a guitar for myself, sent it to my folks house for Christmas and have requested that my brother (now 30) buys me Rocksmith for Christmas. So essentially I'm still 9 years old.
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  • Avatar for Jaz_Rignall #7 Jaz_Rignall 4 years ago
    @drbowlarks Cheers! Yep - I'm still writing about games after all these years. It's amazing how far the industry has come since those early days of Mean Machines, but games keep on getting better and better, and I'm not bored of them yet. Well, only the crappy ones - but that never changes.

    Hope you enjoy Rocksmith! You'll need to put in the time to keep practicing, but stick at it and you will indeed learn. Have a happy Christmas!
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  • Avatar for CKlody #8 CKlody 4 years ago
    This was the only thing I was looking forward to this Christmas, and it turned out to be a total piece of siht! WORTHLESS ON PC. After going through the hour of updating stupid crap and finally getting my G.D. cable to work, it would freeze up and shi the bed every time I tried to do a lesson. My computer is one year old with plenty of balls to handle their requirements. The game (on PC) is just garbage. I'm trying to keep my language PG-13, but I'm furious!!!! I keep stressing that it is worthless ON PC, because I bought one for a kid who has an Xbox, and it works great. Why can't they make the PC version less dependent on Steam and the online Stih? Are they so interested in selling you more songs for a buck and a half a piece that they are willing to make the game playing experience miserable. F@#$ Ubisoft! F@#$ Rocksmith PC! And F@#$ me for being stupid enough to buy this worthless coaster.
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  • Avatar for TEAMofZOMBIES #9 TEAMofZOMBIES 3 years ago
    I just wanted to post a mini-response/review of my own to this. I purchased Rocksmith (not 2014) and a Fender Squier HSS Bullet in September of last year (2013). I was completely guitarded when I got the game and didn't really spend *that* much time with Rocksmith, but when 2014 came out I immediately purchased it and started up "for real." I upgraded all the songs to 2014 and have purchased quite a bit of DLC. My high scores are in the mid to upper 90%'s (Lead Guitar).

    As mentioned in this updated article, multiplayer is so much fun. I have more fun hanging out with my new 'smith guitarists and my 30+ year experienced buds. I have a drummer background, so rhythm wasn't and isn't an issue, learning to play has been challenging, rewarding and most importantly, fun.

    I loved the two-reviewer format and with varying backgrounds, it was well done. I forget what I was even looking for and just stumbled on to this review.. back to the Internet I go!
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  • Do you need 2 controllers for ps4 rocksmith? I ordered another cable so my brother and I can play together. But I don't want to find out we need two controllers.
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