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Niantic launches Ingress Prime, a revamped version of its first game



ingress prime niantic
its successor Pokémon Go, Niantic’s Ingress Prime asks players to
explore the real world with their smartphones


  • Before there was Pokémon
    , there was Ingress — the original map-based augmented
    reality game, originally introduced in 2013. 
  • Now, developer Niantic has relaunched the game with
    Ingress Prime, bringing revamped graphics, sound, tutorials,
    story, and pretty much everything else. 
  • Ingress Prime is way more complex than Pokémon Go. But
    for Pokémon trainers who are on their way to catching them all,
    it could be a welcome level of new challenge.
  • Niantic itself sees Ingress as a platform for
    experimenting with its own real-world gaming technologies, as
    it works to build better augmented reality tools.

Before Pokémon
turned the entire world into a Pokémon scavenger hunt in
2016, there was Ingress — the original map-based augmented
reality smartphone game that was also created by game developer

Ingress first launched in 2013, back when Niantic was still a
subsidiary of Google.
It never attained the mainstream success of its Pokémon-flavored
successor, but Ingress had, and continues to have, legions of
dedicated players all around the globe. For a taste, here’s my
friend Laura Michet’s account of her
experience falling down the Ingress rabbit hole circa 2014.

Even now, Niantic hosts Ingress events,
called Anomolies
, that draw players from all over the world.

“Everything that we put into Pokemon Go, everything we’re putting
[Niantic’s forthcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Unite]
, came
from insights we got from Ingress,” Niantic CEO John Hanke said
in a meeting with reporters last week. 

Now, Ingress is back, baby, with Ingress Prime, a revamped and
relaunched version of the game with new graphics, new sound
effects, a new storyline, and various and sundry other
improvements. It’s functionally the same game as before, but
revitalized to bring it up to modern standards. Indeed, if you
already have Ingress installed, Ingress Prime comes as a normal
app update to the base game. 

Here’s the trailer:

Niantic was nice enough to hook me up with early access to
Ingress Prime, before it started rolling out to players on
Monday. In truth, I haven’t had much time to play: My home is in
kind of a dead zone for Niantic’s brand of real-world location
tracking, which made it tricky to play over the weekend. 

Read more:

The creator of Pokémon Go bought an LA-based gaming studio as its
acquisition spree continues

What is clear, however, is that Ingress Prime
is way more intense than Pokémon Go — and it could
be the perfect challenge for any Pokémon player who’s already
“caught them all.” 

How Ingress works

ingress prime niantic
the interface can be a little overwhelming. But don’t be scared:
It’s very similar to Pokémon Go. The green flares here are
Portals controlled by the Enlightened, the game’s green team. The
green lines are links between their portals. You can even see a
piece of a green triangle — a “field” claimed by the


The basic components of Ingress should be familiar to any
“Pokémon Go” player. You walk around the real world, finding
points of interest — public art, historical landmarks, or other
notable sites — and claiming them for your team. The two games
are built on the same database of interesting locations, so
there’s a ton of overlap. 

But where Pokémon Go has Pokéstops and Pokémon gyms, Ingress has
Portals. Same idea, but…this is where it gets

Whenever you’re near a Portal, you can hack it to gain resources,
like Resonators and XMP Bursters. Resonators help you claim a
Portal for your team, while XMP Bursters are your main weapon for
taking down those guarded by the opposition. 

Still with me? Okay, so: You can link two or more Portals
together, strengthening them and making them harder to take down.
But for the link to work, there can’t be any Portals claimed by
the enemy in the way. This means that linking is easy at short
distances, but harder over long range. 

But if your team manages to make a triangle by linking
three Portals, it gets to claim the entire area for its own,
thusly winning major points over the other team, in a process
called “fielding.” This means that Ingress players — who, by the
way, take it incredibly seriously — get into real turf wars,
trying to claim entire cities, counties, and sometimes states for
their own.

Even the story is complicated. It involves a clash between the
two teams: The Enlightened, who want to use the power of the
Portals to benefit mankind, and the Resistance, who want to close
the Portals to protect humanity. As part of the Ingress Prime
relaunch, the story, too, has gotten something of a reboot. A new
web series from Niantic introduces the major characters, while an
Ingress anime will soon come to Netflix, featuring new music by

The story can be affected by player choice. Those Anomoly events
come with their own story developments, and however each team
performs, that has some kind of bearing on what happens next in
the struggle between the Resistance and the Enlightened. 

It’s kind of a lot. As an Ingress newbie, it’s all kind of
overwhelming. But as an active Pokémon Go player since day one, I
do have to admit, I’m intrigued by the apparent depth of Ingress
Prime’s story, and its more competitive aspects.

The bigger picture

In the grand scheme, the launch of Ingress Prime comes at a
pivotal moment for Niantic.

Pokémon Go may no longer be the global phenomenon it once was,
but it’s still a very popular smartphone game in its own right.
And there’s no reason to believe that Harry Potter: Wizards
Unite, the next big Niantic game due out later this year, won’t
be popular, too.

At the same time, though, Niantic is trying to reposition itself,
not as a gaming company, but as the creator of tools and software
to build augmented reality games and apps powered by the
technology pioneered in its hit titles. Niantic has promised to
detail more of its plans in that regard later this
year. ingress map nianticThe
world according to Ingress, at the time of writing. Note how huge
chunks of Canada and the Gulf of Mexico are claimed by the
Resistance, the game’s blue team.
Screenshot/Business Insider

“Our vision of AR is that the world is the computer, the world is
the interface,” Hanke told reporters. 

That’s why Ingress is important, said Niniane Wang,
Niantic’s senior engineer. As Niantic
builds out its “Real World Platform,” Ingress is the company’s
first and best platform for trying out new things. After all,
unlike its other titles, Niantic owns the rights to Ingress lock,
stock, and barrel, freeing it up to play around without

To that end, a later update to Ingress Prime will include an
augmented reality mode that projects a map of the area over the
real world, as a way to play with the combination of those

“Since we own this IP, we can be more innovative and
experimental,” Wang said. 

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