Before there was Pokémon GO, there was Ingress. It was Niantic’s first recreation — and whereas it by no means turned the overwhelmingly widespread phenomenon that GO did, it’s undeniably what allowed GO to exist within the first place.
Now Niantic is taking one other swing at it. The firm has rebuilt Ingress from the bottom up, with the purpose of creating it prettier, extra immersive and — most significantly — extra accessible to new gamers. The new app will ship for iOS and Android later right now.
Unfamiliar with Ingress? At its core, it shares its DNA with Pokémon GO; it’s a recreation that encourages you to stroll round the actual world, go to close by landmarks and parks and work collectively together with your self-selected group (or, in Ingress’ terminology, your “faction”).
But Ingress is an effective bit extra… intense than GO (Ingress gamers prefer to poke at GO as being “Ingress Lite.”) There aren’t any cutesie monsters to gather or Pokéstops to spin; as an alternative, you’re “hacking” portals (the identical real-world areas, principally, that act as Pokéstops) and “linking” them collectively in an effort to beat as a lot of the map as you possibly can to your faction. Link three portals and all the pieces in-between turns into your group’s turf. It’s like seize the flag mashed up with one huge worldwide recreation of tug of struggle, with a little bit of Matrix-y cyberpunk dressing slathered on high.
Ingress Prime, as model 2.zero is thought, replaces the unique Ingress app with one constructed on Unity — the identical gaming engine that powers Pokémon GO and lots of 1000’s of different video games.
If you’ve been taking part in Ingress for some time, lots of the modifications listed here are “quality of life”-type tweaks: the UI has been cleaned up, and so they’ve added all types of shortcuts and gestures to make it quicker to do issues like assault close by portals or handle your stock. The new map interface is simpler to pan and zoom round with one hand, with a one-finger management scheme that’ll really feel fairly acquainted for GO gamers. The new UI is certain to be some extent of rivalry at first, if solely as a result of it means a little bit of behavior breaking for gamers who’ve spent a whole lot to 1000’s of hours getting used to the outdated one, and, effectively, individuals don’t like change. Hopefully, they arrive round.
Speaking of these hours spent in Ingress already: Your progress and badges carry over to Ingress Prime. If you’re Level 16 within the unique Ingress, you’ll be Level 16 in Ingress Prime. New right here, although, is the flexibility to “recurse.” Sort of just like the “prestige” idea made widespread by Call of Duty, recursing units you again to degree 1 to start out the grind yet again, however together with your myriad unlocks (your lifetime AP rating, recharge distance and stock gadgets) nonetheless in tow.
Niantic tells me that sure issues transferring ahead will solely be out there to those that choose to recurse and begin afresh, however didn’t elaborate on what these may very well be. (With many longtime gamers approaching Pokémon GO’s degree cap of 40, I’d be fairly stunned if an analogous idea doesn’t make its manner into GO finally.)
It’s the gamers who’re new to Ingress, although — or those that gave Ingress a look earlier than and have been spooked away by the steep studying curve — that Niantic appears most involved in right here.
Whereas the unique Ingress simply form of dumped you into the thick of it, Ingress Prime affords a bit extra handholding out of the gate. A plot-driven tutorial introduces new gamers to the ideas of portals, hacking, and so on., all whereas beginning to plant the seeds of the sport’s backstory and lore. You’re launched to the 2 factions and the rival AIs behind them, finally being requested to decide on a aspect.
I ran via a beta construct of the sport’s onboarding course of final week, and, as somebody who admittedly matches proper into that “gave Ingress a glance and got spooked away” camp talked about above, Ingress Prime does a a lot better job of clarifying what the heck is occurring. It feels prefer it might use a bit extra play testing (significantly in explaining after I’m doing the incorrect factor), however it’s an enormous step ahead. It doesn’t spoon feed you, however it does a a lot better job of getting the ball rolling.
(Pro tip: The recreation recommends utilizing headphones, and I don’t suppose that’s simply so you possibly can hear issues on the highest constancy. With the tutorial’s voice-acted tracks speaking about hacking methods and controlling minds, anybody taking part in in public sans earbuds is certain to get some preeeeetty bizarre appears to be like.)
Once they’ve gotten a brand new participant hooked, Niantic intends to go a bit more durable with the aforementioned plot/lore this time round. A weekly live-action net sequence known as the “Dunraven Project” will fill within the recreation’s backstory, whereas an anime sequence (which debuted in Japan in October with an English model coming to Netflix in 2019) is supposed to discover the broader universe.
According to Niantic, Pokémon GO was downloaded practically a billion occasions. Ingress, in the meantime, capped out at round 20 million downloads.
Will this overhaul get Ingress downloads up into the billions? Probably not. Pokémon GO had that powder keg spark of nostalgia and familiarity to attract in huge crowds proper off the bat — however, constructed on another person’s mental property, there are limitations in what Niantic can do with GO and the place GO can… er, go. But by rebooting Ingress, Niantic is utilizing present IP it already owns/totally controls as a springboard; they’re striving to maintain the present participant base joyful, whereas setting it as much as develop dramatically by reducing the barrier to entry and increasing the storyline. It’s a troublesome tightrope act to tug off, however it actually appears that they’re beginning out on a superb foot right here.