The Best (mid-tier) AA games you can play in 2022
AA game? Mid-Tier? What exactly is a AA game? Well, there is no official definition. Generally, it would mean a game that has a moderate budget, something more expensive or larger in scope than an Indie Game but something not as expensive or large in scope as a AAA game.
Some famous studios known for producing quality AA games are Devolver Digital, Spiders, Warhorse Studios, CD Projekt Red, Obsidian Entertainment, and Platinum Games.
You may also want to check out the Best Co-op Games you can play in 2021!
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AA Games Are Going Strong
In 2022, it’s apparent that the AA/mid-tier level games are back after their numbers had dwindled in the previous decade. While AA games were a staple of console gaming for years, the big push towards highly expensive AAA games and the rising cost of keeping up with them, forced AA games to take a major back seat.
Although massive AAA games are what get people’s attention and drive console sales, AA games are starting to show that they can be big successes too.
AA games are great for the industry because they sit between the giant and smaller titles. They can have the best of both worlds. AA developers can take the creative risk of indie titles, bringing innovative, creative ideas that push the gaming industry forward.
At the same time, AA games can look and feel as good as many of their AAA counterparts. They do this in myriad ways whether it be focusing on a very highly polished, and tight gameplay design or by building a highly concentrated smaller scale world, there are plenty of AA games that hold their own against some of gaming’s biggest titles.
Here is a list of some of the best AA or Mid-tier games that have come out in recent years. Seeing as the definition for a AA game is somewhat subjective, some of the games on this list may lean more towards the Indie or AAA definition of a game but all of these titles are ones that capture the heart of what a AA game and development studio are all about.
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- The Best games you can play on Xbox Game Pass
NOTE THAT ALL GAMES FOR PLAYSTATION 4 OR XBOX ONE CAN ALSO BE PLAYED ON THE NEW PLAYSTATION 5 AND XBOX SERIES CONSOLES VIA BACKWARDS COMPATABILTY
For the RPG Lovers
Children of Morta
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch
The biggest surprise of the year so far for me is Children of Morta. This is a pixel art roguelike dungeon crawling action RPG. The gameplay is very simple, mostly consisting of mashing a few buttons but the fun factor of this game is through the roof.
Children of Morta has multiple characters, all of who play differently and have their own skill trees and powers to level up. The game forces you to play through with all of the characters and you grow to appreciate each one and learn their style of combat.
One of the best features about Morta is that it has cooperative play throughout the entire campaign. The game provides hours of entertainment for anyone who wants to kick back and enjoy a chill play-through. For more on Children of Morta check out our review in Children of Morta Game Pass Spotlight.
Divinity Original Sin Series
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
When Divinity Original Sin first launched back in 2014, many immediately hailed it as one of the greatest cRPGs of all time. The 2017 sequel, Divinity Original Sin 2, merely cemented Larian Studios as the premier cRPG game developer in the world.
In the Divinity games, you can do nearly anything. There are so many options to how you approach combat and scenarios that thinking outside the box is frequently rewarded. As someone once said about the series, “Divinity is a game about tactics over strategy.” Every battle benefits from creative thinking.
The Divinity Original Sin Series has been made with extreme care from their developers. The first game got essentially remastered just a year or so after its release with an update that included a lot more voice work and game tweaks. They are AA games that have gotten as much AAA treatment as possible and they stand toe to toe with the best RPGs available.
These games allow co-op but even with friends, they are tough challenges. Divinity 1 takes several hours for some gamers to get the flow of and Divinity 2 is even more robust in the variables it introduces to the day-to-day gameplay of the series.
These games are ideal for gamers seeking mature, in-depth, role-playing adventures akin to what you would see in a Dungeon and Dragons campaign. This is the thinking person’s RPG and there is A LOT to think about during each game’s campaign.
Path Of Exile
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series, PS4, PS5
Fans of Diablo and dungeon crawlers who have yet to play Path of Exile are missing out big time. At this point however, Path of Exile has become such a hugely successful game that I can’t imagine that there are many people who are deeply into these kinds of games who don’t know about Path of Exile at this point. This game is on this list for the people who aren’t familiar with the genre.
Do you like games where you collect loot? Do you enjoy games with constant action and frequent character progression? Do you want a game that you can play for hundreds of hours with friends? Path of Exile is offers every single one of these juicy tidbits and the cherry on top is that this game is absolutely free!
Platforms: PC, PS4
Ryu Hazuki finally returns nearly 20 years after the second Shenmue game to continue his journey in Shenmue III. When Shenmue I and II first came out they were some of the highest budget games to ever be made. True AAA experiences. Shenmue II has a much more humbling budget but it actually works out quite well as the game is very much in line with its lineage of previous titles.
Shenmue III plays a lot like the first two games. There are some gameplay overhauls, most notably in the combat, but the pacing, voice work, music, look, mostly everything else captures that unique Shenmue spirit. This game is essentially a love letter to long-time Shenmue fans. AA Games made in a way to keep them true to older counterparts is dedication.
For players who are new to the series, I’d advise trying out the first game first. Though the games were revolutionary when they first hit the scene 20 years ago, gaming has evolved quite a bit and Shenmue may be too archaic for some.
That said, if you want a relaxing game that moves at a languid pace, you can do worse than the Shenmue series. Give it a look and maybe you will embark on your own kung-fu journey.
For more about Shenmue III, check out our in depth review.
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Greedfall developer Spiders has been around for several years churning out many solid AA role-playing games. Greedfall is the newest addition to that RPG lineage and it’s the most high-profile game from Spiders yet.
Greedfall borrows heavily from RPG’s of yesteryears such as Bioware classics Knights of the Old Republic and Dragon Age Origins. Characters and their relationships with one another take to the forefront of the adventure.
Even the gameplay and narrative structure of these games is similar to some of the more classic RPGs they borrow from. This is a perfect game if you want to turn back the clock a bit while still experiencing most of the modern conventions of an RPG today.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4
One of the most in-depth and detailed RPGs of the generation, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is another game that pushes the boundary of what a AA game can look and play like.
KCD aligns pretty closely with a typical AAA game experience. It has really good graphics, a massive open world, deep gameplay, great voice acting, it ticks all of the boxes of a big-time video game production, the only difference is that it was made by a smaller team and on a modest budget.
This game is another easy-to-spot labor of love. Warhorse Studios has gone to extreme lengths to make a game in a medieval setting that is realistic while also still being fun.
Hours of fun can be had and there is a really addicting thrill to go from being a complete nonfactor nobody in the game and slowly working your way up to being a respectable soldier. This game gets really high recommendation from me personally as one of my favorite RPGs of the generation. A shining example of how AA games can punch above their weight.
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For The Gamers Who Are In It For the Great Stories
Life Is Strange Series
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Life Is Strange is one of the best graphic adventure games that have ever hit gaming consoles. The first game follows the story of Maxine Caulfield, a high school teenager who aspires to be a professional photographer. The setting is a fictional small town in Oregon where Maxine gets into increasingly bizarre and supernatural situations.
The story of Life is Strange is the game’s best feature, it is a mix of high school drama, crime mystery, and supernatural intrigue. The characters are remarkably well written and acted, this is a story that carries a lot of emotional weight and is one of the few games that allow players to really connect with its characters.
I strongly recommend Life Is Strange to those of you looking for a narrative adventure that is light on gameplay but through the roof in the plot. Better yet, there is a remaster available very soon.
A Way Out
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4
This is a two player cooperative game about two characters coming together to attempt a prison break and seek revenge. Gameplay is a mix of limited action with lots of mini-games, a bit of exploration, and dialogue choices.
A Way Out makes its second appearance on an Omni Game Player best-of list. Not only is this one of the better co-op games to come out in recent years, A Way Out is one of the best AA games to come out too.
A Way Out really does an excellent job of straddling that mid-tier video game budget by looking nearly as good as some much higher-budget games while still managing to offer up something fresh and creative.
Josef Fares and his team at Hazelight Studios managed to create a video game that is meant to be played entirely in co-op with another human player. There is no single player in this game at all, an ambitious concept that would be hard to get off the ground with a AAA gaming budget.
A Plague Tale: Innocence
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series, PS4, PS5
Here is a game that pushes the boundary between AA and AAA. A Plague Tale: Innocence is a prime example of why I love AA games so much and believe in their potential. this is a stellar-looking product that provides a short 10-hour playing experience. A beautiful slice of gaming goodness condensed into a tight package that you can finish in a couple of weeks.
A Plague Tale: Innocence is a gripping tale, not only are there gorgeous graphics but fun gameplay and a memorable story that will stay with you for some time. With a Plague Tale sequel coming out in the near future, now is a perfect time to jump into this one and prepare for the new game coming soon.
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360 (Back compatible with Xbox One) , Switch
Deadly Premonition is one of my all-time favorite games. I played it during a time when I was somewhat disenchanted with gaming. I was in a slump, bored with a lot of the current offerings, and had little interest in anything I played.
I gave Deadly Premonition a spin and after a few hours, I was mesmerized. This game is the pinnacle of AA games in my eyes. There are a lot of issues with Deadly Premonition, the budget is clearly not where it could have been as the gameplay, graphics, and some of the voice work is subpar, to be honest.
Even with this game’s numerous shortcomings, there is a vision so strongly woven throughout every aspect of Deadly Premonition that it still penetrates through the screen and directly into the player who is experiencing the game.
Deadly Premonition is like Twin Peaks the game. Super out there events happen around you and the player tries to piece everything together as they play along.
The game can be scary, funny, whimsical, and tragic. An emotional roller coaster if you go along for the ride, a shining example of what a creative mind can do with limited resources but a deep-seated passion. This is Hidetaka Suehiro’s Magnum Opus.
You are looking for action videogames? We got them right here
Platforms: PC, PS5, PS4
Sifu is exactly the kind of videogame that is possible in the Indie and AA gaming space. This game is a love letter to classic Kung-Fu cinema, we are talking about stuff from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Films by the Shaw Brothers, movies like 36 Chamber which went on to inspire the legendary rap group, The Wu-Tang Clan.
So what makes up the gameplay experience of Sifu? That question is easily answered, 90 percent of Sifu is made up of challenging, extensive, melee combat. This is a game where brawling is everything. There are a few moments when the game slows down but they are very rare.
If you are going to play Sifu prepare, to put some time into learning the surprisingly complex intricacies of the combat system. Approach this game in a similar way you would approach a Rogue-like such as Hades or Returnal. You are going to get your butt handed to you a lot but your skills and abilities will grow considerably over time.
This game may have been a hard sell to convince a AAA publisher to make on a large budget. The AA gaming space is perfect for an innovative title like this. Sifu is the kind of gaming experience you won’t find anywhere else and it is a quality product to boot! Don’t be shocked if this game paves the way for future titles.
Shadow Warrior 1 and 2
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series, PS4, PS5
Shadow Warrior is one of the funniest and fun first-person shooters I have played. Both games feature the main protagonist Lo Wang and he is over the top wacky and badass at the same time. Narratively, the developers have really found a great balance to make the character interesting while still producing one of the better AA games for action fans.
The gameplay of the Shadow Warrior games is top-notch. Very similar to something like Doom in that these games are fast-paced, frenetic, and throw a lot of enemies at the player at once. There is also a high level of over-the-top violence, lots of blood, and limb dismemberment but it fits in well with the game’s overall theme.
Shadow Warrior 1 follows the traditional path of an FPS game with a straightforward campaign mode. You progress through a number of levels, unlock weapons and upgrades as you go. Shadow Warrior 2 takes a different approach. It’s more open-ended, you select which missions you want to take on and you acquire loot and experience on every mission.
Although both games have very different structures to each other, they share the same kind of humor and satisfying gameplay. Shadow Warrior 2 also offers a full-fledged co-op through its campaign. These games may have a AA budget but they don’t skimp out at all on the gameplay and personality.
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Earth Defense Force Series
Platforms: Various games available on PC, PS4, Xbox, Switch
The Earth Defense Force games are something else. They are sci-fi action shooter games that purposely try to mimic B-grade science fiction films. We are talking about giant alien insects and robots invading earth, destroying cities, and creating armageddon.
These games are cheesy and they don’t pretend otherwise. Hilarious and campy one-liners, serious situations that you can’t take too seriously, and lots of arcade explosive action. This may sound like I’m being negative about the game but I’m not, these are games you love to play because they are so darn ridiculous and fun.
The Earth Defense Force games offer co-op and single-player experiences. In all of the games, you are constantly upgrading or finding new weapons. At the same time, you are also upgrading your character by increasing their health points. Loot is a big factor in this series.
Each mission is about 5-20 minutes long with a narrative that is taking place over each mission. Players have the freedom to replay old missions on different difficulty levels to unlock more loot or grind health upgrades for their character.
Don’t let the silliness of the EDF games fool you, these are games packed with content and fun gameplay. The perfect mid-tier game to put on for an afternoon session of mindless fun with a friend.
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox
Platinum Games have become one of the most respected development teams in the action game genre. From Bayonetta to Astral Chain (another game that could easily go on this list) they continually deliver high-octane action titles that continually scratch the action itch for their fans.
Nier Automata might be their greatest game yet. Nier features an interesting mix of gameplay. There are elements of shoot ’em ups, action slasher, and RPG games all rolled into one package.
The soundtrack is one of the most striking in recent years and the story is complex and odd but that’s what helps make it interesting. What’s also different about Nier Automata is that the game requires several playthroughs to get the whole story. You can beat it once but if you are willing to go back through it multiple times you will be rewarded.
Xcom: Chimera Squad
Xcom fans you already know what to expect for the most part but Xcom: Chimera Squad takes some of the tried and true Xcom formula we love and turns it on its head.
The Xcom games are turn-based strategy titles and Chimera Squad is no different. What separates this game from its predecessors is that the squadmates are wholly handcrafted and have their own personalities and traits.
Throughout Chimera Squad you build up your team of squad members and find the best combinations between them for each individual mission. Chimera Squad has a nice mix of very fast-paced and longer missions, except many of the early missions to be over within 5 minutes which gives this game some great pick-up and playability.
For some more on Chimera Squad check out Omni Game Player’s preview.
State of Decay Series
Platforms: PC, Xbox One
State of Decay 1 and 2 are the types of games that could only be cooked up by a small independent or AA developer. A zombie game that isn’t just about action but also about community building, resource gathering, and group survival.
Though not perfect, both games have their issues with some jank and bugs, State of Decay is one of the more unique games centered around zombies you will find.
How does the gameplay? It’s basically a sandbox open-world survival game. You make a base, you build it up with rooms and survivors, and you continue to forage for new supplies and materials while also working to make the town you are in a bit safer.
This isn’t a game with a strong central story. A lot of what keeps the player interested is the continued improvement of their situation. It’s pretty much The Walking Dead, the game when it comes to a group of people banding together to survive. Come in expecting a sandbox zombie survival game and you will have a good time.
Looking for more kid-friendly games and lighthearted fun?
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5
Fall Guys is one of the silliest games you will find and it is a perfect example of an Indie or AA game that has made a huge impact. When it debuted on PC and PlayStation 4 free through PlayStation Plus back in August of 2020, Fall Guys took the gaming world by surprise.
There was little buzz before the game’s release outside of a few fun trailers but as soon as the masses got their hands on it, the game shot to the top of the charts in player counts and has been a booming success that is now a mainstay party platformer for gamers all over.
The game is all about online multiplayer competition. You start off with 60 players and over the course of about 4-6 stages, people get eliminated along the way. The goal is to make the cutoff of players for every round. Once you get to the final round it will be every man and woman for themselves as only one person can be crowned champion.
The game is simple, violence-free, and appropriate for all ages. This is a very refreshing, fun title that children and adults can play and it’s a strong recommendation if you are looking for some fast, easy fun.
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Sereis, PS4, PS5
Our 2021 Game of the Year and one of the best platformer games to come out in years, Psychonauts 2 is pretty much the pinnacle of what a AA game can be when it has a great team behind it and some healthy financial support. This is a game that just barely comes in under the AAA mark, the budget isn’t quite as big as something like Ratchet and Clank, the graphics aren’t as shiny, the ads are not as bombastic; that said the actual games is every bit as good.
Excellent writing and lovable characters help carry this game to the upper echelon of titles that were released in 2021. Psychonauts 2 was a game that I had a hard time putting down, always wanting to play it a little more to see what happens next in the story or to find my next unlock. If any of this sounds appealing to you, don’t hesitate to pick up Psychonauts 2 and see for yourself how great it is.
It Takes Two
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series, PS4, PS5
Josef Fares and Hazelight Studios are at it again. After the really great A Way Out, listed above they have come back with their next game that in my opinion, is an even better co-op experience. I had some reservations about adding this one to the list because it looks so good and feels so polished in the gameplay department, I wasn’t sure if it would still be considered a AA game. Fortunately, I found this quote from Fares himself.
We’ll keep doing these-I wouldn’t say low budget, but lower budget games. We’re still a double-A studio. But we’ll still do crazy, creative ideas, great experiences. This type of game is needed even more now.
Josef fares via VentureBeat
So It Takes Two is still a AA game, don’t come at me in the comments lol. That said, it is hard to believe though because the game is done so well. The one roadblock for people on this game is that it is CO-OP ONLY. That means there is no way for you to play this game by yourself, you absolutely have to have another person to play with either online or right next to you with another controller.
The good news is that if you buy this game you can invite a friend to play for free as long as they are on the same platform as you.
So what makes this a great AA game? You won’t find many cooperative experiences more entertaining than this. This game throws a variety of genres and game sequences at the player and forces them to work together all the way through. The story and look of this game is like a Pixar Film that you can play. This is also the perfect co-op game for most age ranges, adults and kids can play this one together and have a grand time.
AA Game development is back and making its mark
This list is just a handful of some of the standout AA games that have come out in the last several years. We are seeing more and more games like these grow as the market opens up for these games to be successful and publishers are looking for more content to deliver to consumers.
Microsoft in the last couple of years has gone on to acquire several studios know for making AA budget games (Undead Labs, Ninja Theory, inXile, Compulsion Games) and we will see many of those games come to Xbox Game Pass in the coming years.
Other publishing and development studios such as Devolver Digital, Spiders, and Platinum Games, will continue to churn out their high-quality AA experiences.
This is a game space that has a lot of room to grow because they have fewer restrictions than their Indie or AAA counterparts.
Do you have a favorite AA or mid-tier game that didn’t make this list? Are you looking forward to any coming out in the near future? Let us know in the comments below!