In many ways, Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock resembles another iteration of the franchise, Guitar Hero 3 Legends of Rock. Both have questionable subtitles, increased difficulty, and added traditional gaming elements to the established music game formula. Perhaps the most telling similarity is the fact that Warriors of Rock and GH3 were both released a short time before the competing franchise’s latest offerings. Rock Band’s new instruments and 4 player co-op put GH3 to shame, and the keyboard and pro mode of Rock Band 3 threaten to do the same to Warriors of Rock. But does the latest Guitar Hero stand on its own merits as a solid music game?
Warriors of Rock shares many of the same attributes as last year’s Guitar Hero 5, and that’s a good thing. One of my favorite features, mixing and matching instruments, has returned. It's very co-op friendly, as is the excellent Party Play, where you can change difficulty on the fly, no dropping out or even pausing required. GHTunes is back, if you’re into that sort of thing. In these respects, Warriors of Rock has changed little from its predecessor (meaning GH5; I’m trying to forget GH Van Halen ever existed).
But there are lots of changes, and the most obvious is the heavily-hyped Quest mode. It’s been a while since a Guitar Hero game tacked on a story, and I was looking forward to seeing what Warriors of Rock could do from a narrative standpoint. Unfortunately, Quest mode is a really only a glorified career mode. The Demigod of Rock has fallen at the hands of The Beast, and powerful warriors must be recruited to help recover the Demigod’s axe. These warriors are the familiar faces of previous games like Judy Nails and Lars Umlaut, with a couple new additions thrown in the mix.
The characters must “power up” and unleash their inner warrior before progress can be made. To do so, you have to earn a target number of stars while playing songs in that warrior’s list. To help you do this, all characters now have special abilities that allow them to do things like extend multipliers, earn extra stars, etc. Once the stars goal has been reached, the characters transform into truly outlandish caricatures of themselves that look like they walked off the cover of an old heavy metal album. While in this form, the characters’ special abilities are even more powerful.