Ingress is Niantic/Googles new augmented reality game currently only available on Android devices. At the time of writing this it’s in closed beta and getting an invite has been a real pain in the ass. I ended up following multiple members of Niantic on G+ and begged my way into being given an access code.
The concept of the game is based on two factions: ‘The Enlightened’(green) and ‘The Resistance’(Blue) and the aim is to physically travel to location and landmarks where Google has opened ‘Portals’. The Enlightened are trying to keep these portals open and form fields by linking portals while The Resistance attempt to destroy them.
Essentially Green vs Blue capture the flag… or just a very long episode of Primeval without the dinosaurs
The process of capturing a portal involves getting within 50m of a portal and hacking using your android device. This will drop items such as keys, resonators and emp bombs and you can use these items to upgrade and destroy portals as well.
Resonators are placed around portals to increase energy levels and emp are used to undo all this work.
Keys are a way of linking portals together. You collect keys from hacked portals and based on your level in the game and some confusing formula you can link portals your ‘familiar’ with over long distances. This can lead to creating fields by linking three portals together.
All of this hacking, upgrading and destroying of portals wipes out your limited energy levels ‘xm’ which stands for exotic matter (ooooo exotic – very sexy). To collect more of this you need to walk around like a lemon for a while absorbing this invisible plasma stuff. I do admit the display on my phone is very cool though which shows a google map type display with portals and XM dotted all over the joint.
After playing for a week the following things are letting this game down for me:
Hacking sounds like you need to be coder to be able to do this but it’s just a case of getting close to the portal and pressing the well named ‘Hack Portal’ button. I feel like I want to do something here maybe answer a question or solve something at the very least. Also I found between hacks you have to wait for a cool down period of about 5 min which is annoying if there’s only one portal within walking distance so you end up waiting around to attack or upgrade the portal some more.
The amount of portals is an issue but with time I’m sure this will increase tenfold. In major cities like London you can’t step out of the tube without stepping into a portal zone. Out in the countryside there are about 2 portals in a 10 mile radius which involves burning a lot of petrol if you want it to hack them all over and over again. I’ve heard there are ways of submitting new portal locations to Google by taking pictures of places you think suit and emailing them so this is only a short-term issue with Ingress.
I think the fatal flaw for me atm is that it destroys the battery in my phone. I have a Galaxy SIII and found the battery lasts a lot more than my previously smartphones, but even with this advantage running this app is a juice killer. I had to download an additional app to counteract this ‘called Ingress Wake’ which allows you to press a button on the screen to turn the majority of the display black as turning/locking the phone stops Ingress from running in the background and collecting the XM you need to hack the target portal. So now I have to switch on the wake app and hope I don’t pocket dial while I try to refill my energy. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if it was a game that didn’t need to be played for long periods of time to make a mark against the blue/green bad guys.
Overall I think the idea of the game is excellent and there are some additional decent features around social such as a chat box for seeing and contributing with your fellow players to decide tactics. This chat box can also be filtered to just the local players which can allow players to easily team up and create fields and destroy the enemy.
I’ll stick with this game and see how it progresses and knowing Google all the issues I’ve found will get developed and worked out, but I feel the battery problem is unavoidable unless you carry a spare on you at all times and could be Ingresses downfall.
I can’t wait for the invites to open up and end up wondering if the fat guy on the bench near me playing on his phone is playing ingress and whether I should be working with him or deciding on ways to break his phone without him knowing.
Hopefully this was some use to someone. Comment below…