An order of essential titles to play to understand modern gaming history.

Besides a couple of X-box 360 and 3ds RPGS / a lot of Visual Novels, have not played console / PC games since the PS2 Era.

Finally have a lot of free time, as we all do.
What I want to do is play a history of what I missed, starting from the 360/PS3 era so that I can feel the gradual progress games have made since. Understand gaming history better.
Amazed that I can`t find articles tracing this.

I‘m still at the stage where Resident Evil 4 feels like fresh game mechanics, don`t want to skip ahead to current games immediately.

Any console is fine,

Not looking for individual game recommendations, would like a syllabus of essential games to understand the history of games since PS2 Era.

Random really bad examples just thrown out there:
Modern action game mechanics Resident Evil 4 -> Gear of War -> Some type of Assassins Creed? .
Classic Game Example:
Pitfall -> Super Mario Bros -> Mega Man -> Super Mario Bros 3-> Sonic the Hedgehog -> Yoshi`s Island.

Asked this at Neogaf only replies I got were people suggesting their favorite game from last year. trying at my old lurking home of IC instead.

The 360/PS3 era seemed to really solidify what AAA means now, in terms of visual spectacle. and I feel like no game exemplifies this than Halo 3. Going from Halo 3, to Reach, to ODST is a really good period for Bungie where they had tech in place and, presumably, a team of people that knew what they were doing, and a platform that didn‘t change. I feel like that’s a good example of evolution in terms of FPSes of that era.

Going with things I hear people talk about, as the stuff I‘m familiar is definitely not what you’re asking for. I‘ll do my best to mention some stuff to bring up to speed on some of the conversation around modern titles.

So, I’m not a huge fan of what little of them I‘ve played, but the uncharted series and similar titles (last of us) seems a pretty big impact the look and feel of a lot AAA releases.

The last 3 entries in the Fallout series have also a big deal. New Vegas seems to especially gotten folks talking.

You know, the more I try to write this post, the more I realize that I’m way out of my depth - all the big titles that a notable impact on how other games after them do things are just not games I generally play. So here‘s a list of things that fit that bill or are at least worth your time to check out as everyone was talking about them (even enough that I heard under my rock):

Dark Souls

Mass Effect

Horizon Zero Dawn

Journey

Batman Arkham series (there’s a lot I love and hate about these games that I‘ve seen other titles since, so that’s both cool and terrible)

And I know there‘s a lot more, but they completely escape me as I likely didn’t play a lot of them. Sorry, I'd have loved to be helpful on this, but really, I should probably try actually playing more of the titles that someone far more qualified than I will eventually post here.

Maybe not what you're looking for exactly, but you might find this article relevant and interesting: https://kotaku.com/the-decade-in-five-games-1840394803

I feel like Prince of Persia: Sands of Time changed mainstream platforming forever. As one thread of progression, you might check out PoP: SoT (maybe you already have since it was PS2 era), Uncharted 2, and then maybe the Tomb Raider reboot? That's particularly interesting because the original Tomb Raider was one of the pioneers of 3D platforming, and the reboot basically just follows suit with other modern AAA games, which were no doubt inspired by the original Tomb Raider. That said, I think that style of platforming is on the decline in the last couple years as Souls-likes gradually inherit the earth.

I definitely agree Demon's and/or Dark Souls and/or Bloodborne should be on the syllabus. Or skip straight to the best of From Software's "death games," which is quite obviously Sekiro imo. Surely some of the most influential games of the last decade, for better or worse. Not sure if sequence/chronology is that important here; I feel like basically all the critical concepts were established in Demon's Souls in 2009 and from there it was just polish and gradually backing off some of the more mean-spirited elements (making checkpoints more lenient, etc).

Speaking of critical concepts, Demon's Souls et al lifted many of their mechanics from Monster Hunter, and that's unquestionably one of the most influential series in Japan of the last fifteen years. I'd maybe start with MH: Freedom Unite on PSP (available on PSN for Vita and also iOS) and then check out MH4Ultimate on 3DS and MH: World on modern systems if you want to see the evolution.

Probably worth checking out some of the influential indies: Braid> Fez>Meatboy>Hotline Miami>Gone Home>Papers Please. (Without looking up dates, I think that's more or less listed sequentially, but I guess those games don't have a lot in common other than being indie and relatively high-profile/award-winning.)

I think most modern open-world games are descendants of Grand Theft Auto III. You could got GTA III/IV/V, and then any random Ubisoft map game (Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is the pirate one and therefore the best one), and then maybe Horizon: Zero Dawn, which is very very polished, and/or Witcher 3, which is very very Polish (also hugely popular).

This is a good question!! Especially interesting in the context of modern only, not starting all the way back.

To understand the modern shooter, perhaps one would go:
Call of Duty 2 (sound design, ease of weapon switching, early steps at immersion)
Call of Duty Modern Warfare (trying new things, multiple play modes integrated together, limitations of freedom and map size)
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (fluid, rarely confusing but still challenging, interesting hub world, playing with the concept of downtime in a shooter)

That's one particular thread with multiple branches but it'd be pretty educational anyway. To end up at Doom (2016) you'd need a different thread entirely, which is why this stuff is interesting to me.

For the "fluid hangout action" genre I might go:
Bullet Witch (japan style freedom within a sandbox, experimenting with physics and weight, places that feel like places)
Bayonetta (platinum begins to figure out what its combos are for, though feels completely weightless, gives you a world to exist in in almost an evolution of Sonic Adventure)
Metal Gear Rising (the opposite direction of bayonetta - weightless, fluffy, self important)
Nier Automata (the world is the message, the action is the vehicle, complexity is optional)

I want to come up with more of these, it's an interesting exercise!

I'd argue for a reverse approach, honestly. Rather than try to construct a single top-down history for a genre/system/the medium as a whole (because such histories will always exclude some games or trends deemed not important enough to remember while reinforcing pre-existing notions about what games/trends do hold value), it would make more sense to begin with a given game and proceed to ask what histories emerge when you look at that.

To provide a basic example, take the _Final Fantasy VIII Remaster_ and the _Final Fantasy VII Remake_. The first strives to present us the game as it originally existed while only making updates that help clarify the original intent, EG providing cleaner models and textures, whereas the second, being more concerned with the cultural significance that people have attached to _Final Fantasy VII_ in the intervening years, tries to translate the original game into modern standards of what a culturally significant video game should be. Yet neither of these philosophies are exclusive to either game. Between the _Resident Evil_/_Panzer Dragoon_/etc. remakes and games like _SNK 40th Anniversary Collection_, these _Final Fantasies_ provide a useful window into video game enthusiast culture's understanding of its own history.

I've been meaning to comment on this thread for a while. Video game history is a topic I feel strongly about; especially when traced through forgotten or overlooked games.

I definitely wouldn‘t go and say that my paths laid above lead you to a full understanding of a genre, but I do think it’s interesting to chart a path to a given destination and see what was added along the way. Any of these kinds of lists will necessarily be subjective, but I think it's a solid exercise.

I think your approach is also an interesting one, though for my money that "reverse" approach is more fun for theorizing about than playing through. With SNK 40th as an example, we showcased what was maybe the first "where you left off" continue, and maybe the first playable tutorial. Those games aren't that interesting if you start at a modern game that does that stuff and move all the way back down, but I think they are pretty interesting in isolation, to play and theorize about.

But that's just a personal preference maybe.

I do think that looking at alternate methods of updating/preserving are very interesting, and the dualing final fantasies are an interesting way of viewing that. I also think the Yakuza games are interesting for that too! You've got the Kiwami games, and then you've got Yakuza 3 remaster. Neither of these are as much a remake as Final Fantasy VII Remake is, but both add a lot more supporting content than VIII Remaster. Resident Evil 2 Remake gets closer to VII Remake, but is less about blowing the world open. There's a whole spectrum of remake/redux out there now which is super interesting to see and discuss!