Ingress: Everything you need to know in 2022
Before Niantic struck mobile gaming gold with Pokémon Go, there was Ingress — one of the most ambitious games ever created.
Ingress was the first mobile game to revolutionize the use of location data to create the first game set in augmented reality. In the game, you learn that exotic matter of unknown origin is seeping into our world — all around us at all times, but only those with the right tools can see and harness its power.
It's a game that millions of gamers have downloaded and played over the span of six with a global community of active agents keeping the game alive six years on after it's initial release around the world.
With a major update expected for 2018 that's expected to upgrade the visuals, add new AR features that tap into Google's ARCore and hopefully breathe some new life into the game for active players and those of us who might be coming in fresh or checking back in after years of inactivity.
What's new with Ingress Prime?
November 5, 2018 — Ingress Prime is now available for download
Niantic has released the big Ingress Prime update that looks to build on the original game with refined mechanics, new abilities, and a redesigned user interface. Available as a free update to the original Ingress game, Ingress Prime is free for all to download and play.
For those who preferred the original Ingress, Niantic is looking to bring out an "Ingress Classic" client. Niantic's focus is sure to be on Ingress Prime and Pokemon Go at this point, though, so don't expect much in the way of updates. We'll share more details on that once we have them. In the meantime, grab the update and go capture some portals!
What is Ingress?
What is Ingress? Perhaps the better question is, how have you not seen it? Ingress is all around you, not so much being "played" as it is being "lived" day in and day out by millions of people. Chances are you know some of them, and chances are you've seen it in action. Felt it, even.
Ingress at its most basic is an alternate reality game (aka AR) that pits two factions against each other for control of Mind Units the world over. You're either among the Enlightened, or you're part of the Resistance. Portals are the key to the entire game, disguised as everyday objects all over the world. Portals can be linked together until a field is established, thus capturing the Mind Units within.
Initially, the story of Ingress was cryptic and ever-evolving, but at this point, the nuances between the two factions have faded to the point where it's less about picking a side on the basis of philosophy and more pertinent to pick a side with friends you can play with.
Along with the major Ingress Prime update that released in 2018, there are also real-world Ingress events planned around the world throughout the year. This can be a great way to connect with other Ingress agents in your area so you can strategize together.
Complete list of real-world Ingress events for 2018
Glossary of important terms
Ingress isn't your typical game, and it's admittedly really complex to get started. If you're coming in fresh, here are the essential concepts you need to understand to get started.
Factions: Choosing a faction is the first decision you will make after selecting your username and it's pretty important. Back when the game initially launched, there were significant narrative differences between the two factions, but over the years things have sort of devolved to the point where choosing between team green (the Enlightened) and team blue (the Resistance). If you're joining to play with friends, be sure you're all on the same faction so you can play and attack portals together.
Portals: Portals are located at various public points of interest around your town. These are real-life locations that are marked on the Intel Map in the Ingress map and you're required to physically go to the location to hack or capture the Portals. Once you've captured a portal for your faction by deploying items called resonators, you can link the portal to other captured portals. An enclosed triangle of three portals will create a "Control Field" which secures the territory for your faction.
Action Points: Action Points (AP) are essentially your XP for leveling up your account. There are many ways to collect AP — by capturing or hacking a portal, placing a resonator, linking two portals, or destroying the other faction's setups. The trickiest part about starting out now will be finding portals that a Level 1 can gain AP at, and is a large part why it's so hard to jump into Ingress so late into the game.
Exotic Matter: In the lore of Ingress, Exotic Matter (XM) is at the heart of the whole game. XM leaks into our world through Portals and each faction is trying to control the Portals to control the Exotic Matter. You collect XM simply by traveling through areas containing XM (ie: walking around with the Ingress app open), which replenish your XM count. So get out there and start walking around.
How to start playing Ingress Prime again in 2018
Whether it's been some time since you logged into your Ingress account or you're coming to the game fresh in 2018, it's easy to get set up to play Ingress Prime, but unlike other casual games, Ingress requires a certain level of commitment from its agents — to properly play Ingress you'll need to be prepared to walk around and explore your town to hack and attack different Portals.
If you've played Pokémon Go at all, you'll be somewhat familiar with the concept of walking around and checking in with different stops — in fact, Niantic used many of the previously established Portals from Ingress to create the framework for Pokémon Go's PokéStops and Gyms.
The easiest part of jumping into Ingress is creating an account — Once you've downloaded the game and load it up for the first time you'll be able to instantly create an Ingress account using your Google Account.
This is a game that's all about teamwork and strategizing as a team, so if you're just starting out or rejoining the cause, you'll want to connect with other players. The Ingress subreddit is a great place to start, which also has a fantastic wiki for beginners that will help you get going.
Alternatively, there's this great post from the AC Forum that has proven to be extremely valuable for new players over the years.
If you're just starting out or are reconnecting an account that's perhaps been dormant for years, chances are your level is going to pale in comparison to the agents controlling the portals in your area. You may need to travel significantly out of the way to places where you can earn that AP.
Are you an active agent?
While Niantic won't release firm numbers on active Ingress users, the fact it continues to support the Ingress community speaks to their commitment to those who keep the Ingress project alive.
The fact is that it's pretty rare these days for a developer to continue to support a game like Ingress for six years, especially while concurrently launching a massive game like Pokémon Go and the upcoming Harry Potter: Wizard's Unite game.
We'll be sure to check out Ingress Prime once it's live to see if it breathes new life into such a unique concept for a game.
Updated November 2018: Ingress Prime has launched! Download the update for free today.
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Marc Lagace was an Apps and Games Editor at Android Central between 2016 and 2020. You can reach out to him on Twitter [@spacelagace.