Ryse, D4, Crimson Dragon: how three games make use of Xbox One's Kinect

But like Crytek, the developers of Crimson Dragon, including famed Panzer Dragoon creator Yukio Futatsugi, eventually decided to back off on Kinect support in favor of more traditional controls.

Players will still use Kinect for voice commands, issuing orders to other dragon riders in the game and triggering special abilities, and the new Kinect's camera will recognize when players lean left or right in their seats and translate that to in-game evasive maneuvers. But there will be a controller in their hands at all times. For a fast-moving shooting game in which you ride on the back of a dragon, it seems that was the right call.

Crimson Dragon

Now Crimson Dragon controls as good as it looks

"I know when I play games I get pretty intense. I start moving around as the adrenaline gets flowing. If you lean left or lean right as you're playing the game, the Kinect will recognize your movement and it will actually do an emergency dodge roll," Microsoft designer Connor Monahan told us.

That move is also mapped to the controller, but Monahan said sometimes it feels more engaging to have the game respond to your natural body movements.

So why the shift away from using Kinect for all controls?

"The game was being developed initially for the Xbox 360 and it was a Kinect-only game. The team was introduced to the Xbox One hardware and they were given the chance to see what can the hardware do," Monahan explained.

"The controller feels great. The button-pressing is amazing. And all these things lead to a better hybrid experience, and that's what we wanted. There was a lot of feedback from fans about how they wanted controller input. So we've added that, we kept the Kinect, and what you get is a system that you can play the game with a controller if you want to entirely, or if you want to get a little bit more engaged and have some extra feedback, you can also use the Kinect."

D4 goes 'beyond the controller'

The over-the-top action game D4 was also designed from the ground up to use Kinect extensively. But unlike Ryse and Crimson Dragon, D4 actually stuck with it, and when the game launches on Xbox One you'll be able to play the whole thing without a controller at all.

D4 is a story-driven game from the cult game designer known as Swery. It follows a time-traveling private investigator named David Young as he searches for his wife's killer, unearthing clues, interrogating people, and getting in fights. It's like Memento mixed with Doctor Who.

And the game can be played three ways: using only Kinect, using only a controller, or using a combination of both, a mode called "beyond the controller."

D4 mirror

You move your hands to splash water on your face in D4

"But really it's designed to be played completely with Kinect, seated in your living room," said Microsoft Studios designer Sebastian Grinke.

"[Swery] actually pitched us a Kinect game. He's really into Kinect as an experience. He has two kind of design pillars for what he wants to do with Kinect. One is empathy, and the other one is replication of senses.

"So the idea is that as much as possible you have a one-to-one mapping between what the player is doing and what the detective, David Young, is doing on-screen. That's to erase the barrier between you and the story and give you a real feeling of empathy for those characters, and to give you a sense of analog control over what's happening too."

Microsoft set up a couch, chairs and a coffee table at this event to simulate playing D4 in your living room. Despite there being plenty of background noise and people passing in and out of the frame behind Grinke as he played, the Xbox One's Kinect recognized his every gesture and voice command. It was truly impressive, especially in comparison with the notoriously unreliable Xbox 360 Kinect.

"It's definitely improved a great deal," Grinke said of the Kinect. "Not to say that you couldn't create an experience like this on the original Kinect, but I think the new Kinect really takes it to the next level."

To Kinect or not to Kinect?

Almost every Xbox One game we know of takes advantage of the new Kinect in some way, whether for extensive gameplay functions or simple voice commands.

Call of Duty: Ghost lets players issue commands to their dog during combat, for example, and Battlefield 4 lets players lean and shoot around cover by leaning left or right on the couch in real life.

Then there are games like Just Dance 4, which wouldn't be possible without Kinect. A Ubisoft representative at the showcase promised that the new Kinect allows that game to be more accurate in its detection of players - and thus in its scoring - and also for the first time allows the game to track six players at once.

The degree to which these games use Kinect is very different, and it's still unclear why some developers seem to be cooling off to the sensor already despite how much more accurate it is than the original Kinect.

But what's certain is that Kinect is going to be an integral part of Microsoft's next-gen gaming experience, whether or not developers and players ultimately want it to be.

Michael Rougeau

Michael Rougeau is a former freelance news writer for TechRadar. Studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Northeastern University, Michael has bylines at Kotaku, 1UP, G4, Complex Magazine, Digital Trends, GamesRadar, GameSpot, IFC, Animal New York, @Gamer, Inside the Magic, Comic Book Resources, Zap2It, TabTimes, GameZone, Cheat Code Central, Gameshark, Gameranx, The Industry, Debonair Mag, Kombo, and others.

Micheal also spent time as the Games Editor for Playboy.com, and was the managing editor at GameSpot before becoming an Animal Care Manager for Wags and Walks.