Google and Niantic Labs’ Ingress: How is the Augmented Reality Game Continuing to Evolve as it Enters Year Two?

Google and Niantic Labs’ Ingress: How is the Augmented Reality Game Continuing to Evolve as it Enters Year Two?

Apr 7, 2014

We were all mostly wowed by Google/Niantic’s Ingress. At the time, it was arguably the best mobile augmented reality experience. Ever.

Without any improvements, well into its second year, it would still be the best game adventure of its type. Thankfully, Niantic has not rested on its laurels, and has continued to add a bunch of improvements and refinements that improve the gameplay and logic.

At the root, Ingress is still a pick-a-side battle that involves factions of players either accepting otherworldly intelligence, or working to thwart it.

Since we last looked at Ingress, big changes have occurred, especially in the area of portal mods. The pieced here have grown significantly past just shields. Heat sinks, link amplifiers and multi-hacks help with offensive output, while tweaks like force amplifiers and turrets can be formidable tools that prevent successful attacks.

ingress

Adjustments to the logic with regards to greater XM usage also called for other unique hacking rewards like power cubes. Power cubes act like portable XM banks that can be accessed when a player is low, as long as he/she has a cube of the appropriate level. Two other powerful, interesting tools are somewhat faction-specific; ADA Refractors allow portals to be flipped from green to blue, and a Jarvis Virus does the reverse. Both can be used to do things like break links and otherwise cause mayhem.

The UI has been improved as well. The Android phone-based app itself — scanner, in Ingress parlance — has received plenty of usability updates, adding in more information and making it a more graphically pleasing. In real life, Naintic has done an excellent job of driving meetups and real-life faction events in different cities. The backstory tie-ins are a stroke of genius too.

All in all, Ingress remains the penultimate mobile game. Amid rumors of iOS expansion, we say go all out: WP8 and BB10 too? We can’t wait to see what else Ingress comes up with.

Tre Lawrence
Tech fiend that isn't too cool for ramen noodles...
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