When people talk about mobile gaming, we often think of things like Candy Crush or Angry Birds. And when we talk about mobile gaming with other people, buddies or strangers, at most we recall Words / Draw with Friends. Certainly, the thought of a wide-scale (global) mmo doesn’t necessarily come to mind.
Sure, they exist. Order & Chaos Online, for instance, but even then, when we’re talking games with our phones we generally feel simple, solo, and mindless. But what if we go beyond that?
That’s where Ingress comes in. If you’re willing to tackle a slightly complex learning curve, this trending Android (soon to be IOS as well) game has the potential to be the biggest mobile MMO to plague the 4g networks. What strikes me about Ingress most is how great it runs on phones (ignoring the absolute battery assault) – there really is no advantage to using a larger format – tablets, for instance – other than maybe a larger viewing area, which ultimately won’t matter because range is fixed.
The other interesting aspect is how it really encourages teamwork. This isn’t a one-on-one game… it’s the whole world vs the whole world, and although you interact with the game locally, you can talk to people across the globe. Most of your comrades in arms will start as total strangers – but with some courage these can spawn real life friendships, or rivalries if that’s you’re thing.
Enough babble, though, lets get down to the nitty gritty.
What is Ingress?
A simplified description of Ingress – it is a virtual, augmented reality mobile game that turns real life landmarks and points of interest – basically, your real life surroundings – into capturable objectives in game (portals). Ingress uses GPS to track your location and movement, allowing you interact with said portals – friendly or enemy – or collect XM (exotic matter, effectively the game’s version of energy and main plot point.)
There are two factions within the game – the Enlightened who seek to use XM to advance human evolution, and the Resistance who ain’t got time fo’ dat. The factions partake in a global battleground of capture the flag – discovering, taking over, neutralizing, and attacking the other’s territory. As an agent of one side or the other, it’s your job to use your inventory to advance your faction’s control.
How does it work?
Gameplay is a little complex and if you want to really learn the ins-and-outs of Ingress, you can find some more advanced guides (listed below under Learn More) or do the introductory in-game missions (highly recommended). But to cover the basics, at lower levels, like any game, your job is mostly to gain some experience (in the form of AP) in order to discover and use more powerful items. Levels in game are currently 1-8 and this counts towards everything – players, portals, and items. And naturally, you’ll have a harder time taking on higher level portals when you are low and an easier time taking on low level portals if you are high.
You gain AP pretty much with every task – easiest of which is hacking portals you are close to, but also by setting up, recharging, and/or upgrading resonators, shields, linking portals, etc. all of which are tasks needed to take and maintain control of portals. All actions require XM to do (think of it as mana / energy, but also kind of counts as health) and your XM reserves will drain with use or if you are attacked.
Regaining XM is relatively simple – it’s literally everywhere, in more higher concentration around portals and active areas. Just walk by some and recharge (and yes, this is a game dependant on location so walking is necessary. Get outside, ya shmuck).
Comm – Where the real fun begins.
The last bit I’m going to cover is the comm – in-game chat – which keeps you both up to date on who’s taking over what as well as communicate with players all over the world. Currently you can set your range to local (25km), regional (200km), and global (forever and ever). Local is recommended but it is sometimes fun to check out what your faction is up to a little further away (unless you live somewhere like New York, then it’s just a shit show).
Most local ingress communities, especially cities, have their own communities (often on G+, cause we’re nerds like that) you can join to coordinate farms or attacks, or just have a higher level help you up the ladder a little quicker.
Overall Ingress is a really fun, and slightly addicting, game. If you make it past level 1, you’re probably hooked. It’s great for commuters or as a way to get to know your neighborhood a little better. And it’s hilarious to run into fellow ingressers in the wild, not knowing which side they’re on. Or, perhaps, knowing exactly which side they’re on, making it all the more hilarious.
Also check out my Ingress Slang/Lingo guide, posted fairly recently.