When Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock was officially announced last week, Activision teased the game’s “completely redesigned rock-inspired guitar controller.”   Well, we didn’t have to wait long to find out the details.

Rather than add any new functionality to the unit, Activision’s “in-house research and development team” (read: those people who weren’t fired when Activision closed down original Guitar Hero hardware provider Red Octane earlier this year) have instead focused on allowing players to visually customize the guitar.  From the press release:

“All essential parts are now contained within the neck allowing removable ‘wings’ to be replaced with alternatives, giving gamers the chance to tailor the guitar controller to their own unique styles.”

So, Activision will be selling separate wing kits.  I can’t help but wonder how solid the wing pieces will feel — it’s no fun to play a “rattly” plastic instrument.  Will the controller functions when no wings are attached at all?

Guitar Hero Warriors Of Rock Guitar Detached

Removing the wings from the standard version of the controller.

Personally, I’m conflicted about this new guitar.  On one hand, the mold is pretty well cast for guitar controllers: five fret buttons, whammy bar, strum bar, accelerometer.  There is something to be said for executing well on an existing design, and not over-complicating things.

On the other hand, isn’t there something new that would be worth trying?  Granted, extra controls on the neck of the guitar, be they buttons or touch pads, haven’t really worked out that well.  And, of course, the need to ensure backward compatibility is important (yes, all your old guitars will work with Warriors of Rock).  But come on.  It’s difficult for me to accept that there is nowhere left to go with guitar controllers, no feature to add that might make music games just the littlest bit more fun.  I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see how Rock Band 3 deals with this issue.

The big question for me is what Activision’s new design does to address the biggest failing of guitar controllers in general: durability.  These units are not cheap, and often don’t last long enough to carry over to the next game in a series.  Hopefully the Warriors of Rock guitar will buck that trend.

Guitar Hero Warriors Of Rock Axe

Pre-order the game at GameStop to get the "Axe wings."

Ranters, what do you think about Guitar Hero’s new guitar?  Will you be buying custom wings?  Have you broken as many guitar controllers as I have?

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock comes home this September on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii.