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10 most important games of the 21st century: how the history of the gaming industry changed before our eyes


Thousands of new games appear in the industry every year. Dozens of them deserve to please even the fastidious gamers, but only a few, like a giant drill, crash into the course of history, having a significant impact on the gaming industry. These games are not necessarily the best in the genre, there is no need to play them right now, perhaps you should not even approach some projects at all. But, one way or another, these franchises have had a significant impact on the industry, so today we propose to dwell on them in more detail and recall the 10 most important games of the 21st century.

1. The Sims (2000)

Watching other people, oddly enough, is one of the most common human desires, which is well proven by the colossal success of a reality show like House 2 and the equally impressive popularity of The Sims games. But unlike television counterparts, which allow you to influence people's lives with only rare votes, The Sims offered much greater opportunities - to raise your own Sim, living his own life. Sim learns, sim communicates with neighbors, sim goes to work, sim falls in love, sim breaks heart. They are just like you, only they are likely to have a better chance of being successful in life.

10 Most Important Games of the 21st Century: How the History of the Games Industry Has Changed before our eyes

The Sims was nothing more than a simulation of human destinies, full of room to experiment and also simple enough to learn, which immediately made it one of the most popular gaming franchises for decades to come. And even if in the future we did not see a large number of products similar in genre, but as an introductory step into the gaming industry for people who are often far from video games and a proof that experimental products can become part of the mainstream - The Sims series has definitely made history.

2. Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)

While a new Halo is being created in the forges of developers from 343 Industries, it's time to remember the beginning of the series - the legendary shooter Halo: Combat Evolved, which, in terms of its influence on the genre, is comparable only to the Half-Life dilogy. As a starter project for the Xbox console, Halo demonstrated that console shooters can be epic adventure as well as convenient and intelligent. Even now, almost 20 years later, we somehow come across ideas that either embodied the first, or popularized Halo: Combat Evolved.

10 Most Important Games of the 21st Century: How the History of the Games Industry Has Changed before our eyes

Limiting the number of weapons in the inventory, throwing a grenade at the press of a separate button, automatic regeneration of the protective barrier and gigantic levels with smart opponents are an integral part of Combat Evolved. Far Cry or Crysis, which are essentially the heirs of the shooter from Bungie, walked along the path paved by the original Halo, and games continue to this day. But the biggest compliment to Halo: Combat Evolved is that it plays well even today, as seen in the Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary remake.

3. Half-Life 2 (2004)

A few years later, another anticipated shooter appeared on store shelves that would forever change the industry - Half-Life 2. The shooter from Valve could not boast of variable playthroughs or clever opponents, it influenced players in other ways, or rather dozens of other ways. In the context of the game, the main value of Half-Life 2 lies in the incredibly diverse, polished game design, where almost every room presented the player with unexpected and often unique tasks within the framework of the entire game.

10 Most Important Games of the 21st Century: How the History of the Games Industry Has Changed before our eyes

Working like a roller coaster, Half-Life 2 juggles gameplay situations with such grace and skill that even after 16 years we cannot name a more diverse linear shooter. Valve's game was also not without unique innovations, such as the gravity gun, which for several years became a common attribute of numerous first and third person action games. In addition to its undoubtedly outstanding gameplay and cutting-edge graphics, Half-Life 2 is remembered in the industry as a game promoting the nascent Steam service and requiring mandatory online activation.

4. World of Warcraft (2004)

Having achieved success in the RTS and RPG genres, the legendary development team from Blizzard at the beginning of the century set about conquering a new peak - the creation of a large-scale online game World of Warcraft. Of course, Blizzard was not a pioneer in the genre, but based on the concept from Ultima Online, the Californian developers were able to take multiplayer mechanics, quests and the combat system to a new level. The formula for success was ready, all that remained was to dress the game in the eye-catching landscapes of Azeroth and endow the world with a rich soundtrack with a traditionally epic soundtrack.

10 Most Important Games of the 21st Century: How the History of the Games Industry Has Changed before our eyes

As a result of Blizzard Entertainment's efforts, you yourself may know - World of Warcraft has acquired a loyal army of fans and from another successful game has turned into a real cultural phenomenon. WoW beckoned like a drug and every now and then forced people to leave their families to play, drove some gamers to death with exhaustion and was subsequently even equated to the status of a drug by the Swedish organization The Youth Care Foundation. We must admit, not the best reputation, which nevertheless once again proved how high-quality and exciting MMORPG Blizzard turned out to be.

5. Wii Sports (2006)

2006 will be remembered in the industry thanks to the battle of nextgen consoles - Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii. The first lured the audience with impressive graphics and the most brutal games, when the Nintendo console, unashamedly primitive graphics, relied on innovative controls and family products. The result is expected - the popularity of the Wii significantly outstripped the "big consoles", and the Wii Sports released at the start of sales was a turning point in the gaming industry. Together with Wii Sports, Nintendo was able to change the reputation of the industry in the eyes of ignorant people and attract even those people who were in a hurry to blame games for all the mortal sins of humanity to gaming.

top 10 games of the 21st century

The main secret of success was in the features of the Wii Remote game controller, which read the movement of a person in space and transmitted information to the console. Primitive games like golf, tennis, and even boxing have changed dramatically due to the need to actively move with the Wii Remote in hand, which is why gaming has moved from the category of harmful pastime to the list of recommended activities by doctors. A fateful change that clearly influenced the release of the Xbox Kinect and once again confirmed that Nintendo was justified in pursuing innovation instead of focusing on console power.

6. Braid (2008)

Today, being a proud loner and developing an indie dream game in your spare time is an occupation so widespread that it is in time to enter the top 10 hipster activities. Nevertheless, given the availability of engines and the number of different sites for content distribution, home game development can be not only fashionable, but also very practical. A different situation was in 2004, when Steam was just in its infancy, and among other sites open to independent developers, it was possible to note only the Xbox Live Arcade, with draconian requirements for the quality of the game. A difficult time called for its heroes and pioneers.

top 10 games of the 21st century

The heavy burden of responsibility was taken by programmer Jonathan Blow, who has been developing the fabulous platformer Braid for 4 years. We can talk for a long time about how skillfully Braid dealt with the mechanics of time management, how picturesque he possessed and how the ending of the game changed the plot, turning genre cliches inside out, but most importantly, Braid is a precedent. Proof of how one person can create a beautiful, highly regarded and, more importantly, a successful game that can compete almost on equal terms with blockbusters for the title of "Game of the Year" and eventually enter the list of 10 most important games of the 21st century.

7. Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009)

Except for just a few successful projects by superhero comics fans, the gaming industry has clearly not been spoiled for the past decade. And it's not even the quantity, but the quality of the games, most of which played the role of an optional appendage for the promo campaign of the next Hollywood action movie. Here, as in the case of Braid, you need a hero, even better a superhero, who will significantly raise the bar for quality for a fading setting. A challenge that the wizards of Rocksteady Studios have excelled at with their iconic Batman: Arkham Asylum.

The 10 most important games of the 21st century: how the history of the gaming industry has changed before our eyes

Throwing away the simple way of playing based on the superhero trilogy by Christopher Nolan, the developers decided to use Grant Morrison's dark graffiti novel “Batman. Arkham Asylum ". A good foundation, helped by the hiring of award-winning screenwriter Paul Dini, gothic aesthetics in level architecture, Mark Hamill's outstanding acting as the Joker, varied Metroidvania-inspired gameplay and unexpected tricks like breaking the fourth wall. A well-deserved hit in the top 10 games that have left a noticeable mark in history.

8. Minecraft (2010)

One of the most popular games in history, ranked second in the number of copies sold after Tetris - more than an impressive result for a game released just 10 years ago. Minecraft, just like a few years ago, remains the main phenomenon of the gaming industry, which supports cross-platform play and folk art, becoming a testing ground for thousands of user modifications. Success, frankly, fully deserved already at least due to pushing millions of children to creativity through play.

10 Most Important Games of the 21st Century: How the History of the Games Industry Has Changed before our eyes

Given the tremendous success of Minecraft, it's not hard to trace the impact it has had on the industry. The most obvious points are the popularization of survival mechanics and sandboxing in the open world. Additionally, Minecraft has had a significant impact on the world outside of the gaming industry. For example, since 2016, the game, along with the release of the Education Edition of Minecraft, has become part of educational programs in some select English-speaking countries.

9. Dark Souls (2011)

Unlike Minecraft, the sales of the Dark Souls series, and in particular the first part, cannot boast of even a tenth of the number of all sold copies of Minecraft, but the influence of From Software's Action-RPG on the game is even more noticeable. Of course, two years before the release of "Dark Souls" we witnessed the release of the predecessor in the person of Demon's Souls, but Dark Souls became the real popularizer of Hidetaki Miyazaki's findings and perfection.

10 Most Important Games of the 21st Century: How the History of the Games Industry Has Changed before our eyes

Not only did hardcore Action-RPGs with an emphasis on exploring locations and memorizing timings later become defined as a separate genre of Soulslike, but numerous game mechanics are found in one way or another in dozens of other popular projects. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, The Witcher 3, God of War and even Watch Dogs - all games, although not alike in many respects, are united by "Dark Souls", from which they drew some gameplay solutions and / or philosophy of level building.

10. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)

Let's finish our top 10 most important games with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which has already become a real cult, from Polish developers from CD Project RED. Putting our hands on our hearts, we admit that for five years the Action-RPG about The Witcher hasn't really paid much attention to the gaming industry. From projects inspired by the Polish game, one can recall the recent Ghost of Tsushima, which is indirectly expressed in an attempt to present each additional task as a non-trivial story, as well as the late releases of the Assassins Creed series from Ubisoft, which this year, together with the release of Valhalla, will try to release it for the third time his own version of The Witcher.

Top 10 Most Important Games of the 21st Century

The real importance of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to the industry is rather symbolic. Along with the release of the game, the myth of Eastern Europe as a forge of mediocre projects was finally debunked. Experienced players may well remember how derogatory the term "Polish shooter" sounded, and now, finally, our neighbors have proved that there is no point in making discounts on the geography of developers. Of course, blockbusters have appeared in the post-Soviet space before, but not even close to the scale of The Witcher 3. In addition, the release of The Witcher coincided well with not the most successful years in Bioware history, which is why the crown of the leaders of the RPG genre went Poland, straight to the CD Project RED office.

See also the top 10 best exclusive games on Playstation 4.

The Topic of Article: 10 most important games of the 21st century: how the history of the gaming industry changed before our eyes.
Author: Jake Pinkman