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Bringing The Hardest Song in Guitar Hero History to Guitar Hero Live

FreeStyleGames talks DragonForce “Through the Fire and Flames” and this week’s Shred-A-Thon.

By Ali Miller on February 5, 2016 Public Relations, Activision

DragonForce’s “Through the Fire and Flames” is proof that even a game like Guitar Hero Live can have its own version of a boss battle. The fiercely difficult track, notorious for inciting a generation of nimble-fingered GH experts, has just been added back into Guitar Hero Live via this week’s Shred-A-Thon. Shred-A-Thon is a 5-day marathon of the top five toughest songs in Guitar Hero Live, on repeat. It is, in essence, the official playground for fans looking to be the very first to tackle the return of DragonForce.

This time there’s a new layer of complexity to the song with Guitar Hero Live’s six-button guitar controller layout, a true equalizer for both newcomers and even the most advanced players. We spoke with FreeStyleGames Senior Designer Nathan Coppard and Senior MIDI Designer Charles Withall to talk about the return of “Through the Fire and Flames,” the note-tracking process of such a difficult track, and the other toughest songs in this week’s Shred-A-Thon.

Why do you think Through the Fire and Flames is such a fan favorite?

Nathan Coppard: “Through the Fire and Flames” (TTFAF) is essentially the final boss of Guitar Hero games.  Back in the day, you had to beat all of Guitar Hero 3 just to unlock it.  Now, 9 years later, it still represents the ultimate test of Guitar Hero mastery.

The song is also really fun to play, which is vital in helping to offset the face melting difficulty. Featuring epic power metal riffs, relentless speed and back to back guitar solos, mastering TTFAF is a hugely satisfying challenge that pushes Guitar Hero gameplay to the absolute limit.

As one of the hardest songs in the history of Guitar Hero, I have to imagine it’s even harder to note-track and program—how did the team go about bringing it to Guitar Hero Live?

Charles Withall: Note-tracking an already notorious track like DragonForce was a big challenge but also a really exciting opportunity to bring the nightmarish difficulty it posed in GH3 to the new button layout of Guitar Hero Live. More than any other track we thought it was important to consider the note chart from GH3, but simultaneously, the new 3x2 button layout provided us with a new approach to the gameplay. For example, in the intro section, the six buttons and the open strums allow for a more pitch-accurate representation of the melody while providing the additional difficulty of maintaining the stamina in your strumming arm. The sweeping runs in the solo sections also take advantage of the inclusion of the sixth button.

Guitar Hero Live: Shred-A-Thon

Are you ready to go through the fire and flames? This is “Shred-A-Thon,” the ultimate test of Guitar Hero skills…Ready to win big? Post a pic of your highest score from any “Shred-A-thon” track in the comments, and you can win a golden guitar controller, player cards, song plays, and more! Head here for details: (US ONLY). Good luck, rockers — you’re gonna need it…

Posted by Guitar Hero on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

As soon as the first pass of Expert difficulty was completed, the design team began a fiercely competitive leader board of high scores. That process in itself led to lots of detailed changes and suggestions from the team as a whole. It’s a testament to how exciting it was for us to work with this song, because everyone wanted to get involved!

Getting the difficulty reductions right was one of the hardest parts of designing the chart. We wanted players who would usually play on casual, regular, or advanced to be able to play on their usual difficulty level but still appreciate the nails hard challenge that Expert players were getting. At regular difficulty for example, the frequency and speed you’re asked to play at is way more demanding than any other track at regular, but the core elements of what we believe makes regular difficulty are present; the chord shapes are limited to barre and split chords while, on the most part, the melodies avoid jumping from row to row in the middle of phrases.

Ultimately, our aim was to make the track as challenging as we could, and to really push the 3x2 button layout to the limit. All of us in the markup team are really happy with how it turned out, and we feel honored to have worked on such a legendary Guitar Hero song. Needless to say, “Through the Fire and Flames” is still the hardest song to conquer in GH Live.

What kind of new challenges will fans face in “Through the Fire and the Flames” in Guitar Hero Live?

Nathan Coppard: GHTV feels like the perfect home for TTAF.  We’ve turned on Rival Challenges for every song in the Shred-a-Thon so you’ll be competing head to head with other players.  Not only do you have to beat the track but now you have to beat your rivals too.  We’re hoping to see some cool tactics emerging with high level, competitive use of Hero Powers.  If you’re struggling to work your way up the leader boards, don’t forget to upgrade your guitar to unlock its full scoring potential.

Playing TTFAF on the six-button Guitar Hero Live controller gives players a new way to experience this classic track.  The new guitar allows us to really push the difficulty level, mastering it is going to require some serious skill.

In addition to DragonForce, this week’s programming includes some of the hardest tracks in Guitar Hero Live. How were those tracks identified?

Nathan Coppard: Alongside DragonForce, the Shred-a-Thon includes tracks from Megadeth, Trivium, Lamb of God and Alter Bridge.  Each track represents a different area of skill for players to try and master.  Hangar 18’s classic riffs and complex solo rhythms are followed by a test of precision timing and speed required to play Strife.  Next up is the technical rhythmic complexity of Ghost Walking and the epic endurance marathon that is Cry of Achilles. 

Don’t miss your chance to put your Guitar Hero Live skills to the test during this week’s Shred-a-Thon, which lasts until Monday, February 8, at 7:00am PT. Be sure to pop over to @GuitarHero on Twitter to see how you can get a chance to win exclusive in-game items, a gold Guitar Hero Live controller, and more. Last but not least, stay in the loop on all things Guitar Hero Live and more here on the Activision Games Blog and by following @Activision on Twitter.


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