On May 14, 2014, Microsoft announced it would be releasing a version of the XBOX One that does not include the Kinect peripheral. Previously Microsoft had claimed that the XBOX One would always include Kinect and that Kinect features would be critical in many games. The first six months of the console’s life proved otherwise, as only a modest number of games required or even used any of the Kinect features. Microsoft is hoping that a Kinect-free model will increase sales. If you do end up purchasing a model without Kinect, the following are the best games that you will be missing out on or get decreased value from.
Just Dance 2014 – If you don’t own a Kinect, this game is entirely worthless, since it has no alternate control scheme. Just Dance 2014 lives up to its name perfectly. Unlike competitor series Dance Central, the purpose of this game isn’t to hit the right moves or get a high score. The purpose of this game is just to let loose to good music. It may seem low value for a $100 peripheral plus a $60 game, but you get a good mix of some of the greatest dance music available and visuals that just make you want to let go and have some fun.
Zoo Tycoon – Without a Kinect, you pretty much just own the XBOX 360 version of this game. You have additional animals, but you miss out on a bunch of mini-games that only work with Kinect. This particularly matters for Zoo Tycoon because the game is a management simulator. While such games can be fun, they are almost always better when they include a few mini-game diversions. And the mini-games in this one definitely break up the occasional monotony.
Fighter Within – This is the game that everyone was hoping for when XBOX 360 originally introduced Kinect. It is a fighting game that doesn’t use a controller at all. Instead you control your fighter with your own body movements. Unfortunately, in trying to get the Kinect functionality to work, the designers ignored the creative aspects of the game, creating a rather bland fighting game. Furthermore, the Kinect functionality is spotty. Despite all of these flaws, it is the only fighting game that exists that lets you actually fight the opponent with punches and kicks. That is a huge feat and definitely makes it a rare gem.
Fable Legends – Fable Legends is a game that understands where console controllers fail. Unlike a mouse, a console controller can’t quickly move a cursor across a screen. It is limited to a set speed at all times. This is fine for some things, but terrible for games that require you to activate certain locations or units on a screen, like most real time strategy games. Fable Legends has a real time strategy component where a player, acting as the villain, can order troops to attack another player. Kinect offers the option of voice commands to greatly improve the quality of this game play. It is one of the rare games that truly utilizes the voice command capabilities in an effective way.