Earlier than there was Pokémon GO, there was Ingress. It was Niantic’s first recreation — and whereas it by no means grew to become the overwhelmingly well-liked 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 corporate has rebuilt Ingress from the bottom up, with the objective of creating it prettier, extra immersive and — most significantly — extra accessible to new gamers. The brand new app will ship for iOS and Android later as we speak.
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 along with your self-selected staff (or, in Ingress’ terminology, your “faction”).
However Ingress is an efficient bit extra… intense than GO (Ingress gamers prefer to poke at GO as being “Ingress Lite.”) There are not any cutesie monsters to gather or Pokéstops to spin; as a substitute, you’re “hacking” portals (the identical real-world areas, principally, that act as Pokéstops) and “linking” them collectively in an effort to overcome as a lot of the map as you’ll be able to to your faction. Hyperlink three portals and all the pieces in-between turns into your staff’s turf. It’s like seize the flag mashed up with one huge worldwide recreation of tug of battle, 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.
When you’ve been taking part in Ingress for some time, most of the adjustments listed below are “high 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 sooner to do issues like assault close by portals or handle your stock. The brand new map interface is less complicated to pan and zoom round with one hand, with a one-finger management scheme that’ll really feel fairly acquainted for GO gamers. The brand new UI is sure to be a degree 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it means a little bit of behavior breaking for gamers who’ve spent a whole lot to 1000’s of hours getting used to the outdated one, and, effectively, folks don’t like change. Hopefully, they arrive round.
Talking of these hours spent in Ingress already: Your progress and badges carry over to Ingress Prime. When you’re Degree 16 within the unique Ingress, you’ll be Degree 16 in Ingress Prime. New right here, although, is the power to “recurse.” Type of just like the “status” idea made well-liked by Name of Obligation, recursing units you again to stage 1 to start out the grind another time, however along with your myriad unlocks (your lifetime AP rating, recharge distance and stock objects) nonetheless in tow.
Niantic tells me that sure issues transferring ahead will solely be out there to those that decide to recurse and begin afresh, however didn’t elaborate on what these may very well be. (With many longtime gamers approaching Pokémon GO’s stage cap of 40, I’d be fairly shocked if an analogous idea doesn’t make its means into GO ultimately.)
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 concerned about right here.
Whereas the unique Ingress simply kind 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 many others., 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, ultimately being requested to decide on a facet.
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 look and bought 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 may use a bit extra play testing (significantly in explaining after I’m doing the improper factor), nevertheless it’s an enormous step ahead. It doesn’t spoon feed you, nevertheless it does a a lot better job of getting the ball rolling.
(Professional tip: The sport recommends utilizing headphones, and I don’t assume that’s simply so you’ll be able to 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 sure to get some preeeeetty bizarre appears.)
As soon as 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 collection referred to as the “Dunraven Challenge” will fill within the recreation’s backstory, whereas an anime collection (which debuted in Japan in October with an English model coming to Netflix in 2019) is supposed to discover the broader universe.
In line with 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? In all probability 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. However by rebooting Ingress, Niantic is utilizing current IP it already owns/totally controls as a springboard; they’re striving to maintain the prevailing participant base pleased, whereas setting it as much as develop dramatically by decreasing the barrier to entry and increasing the storyline. It’s a troublesome tightrope act to drag off, nevertheless it actually appears that they’re beginning out on foot right here.