Niantic is back with a new, free-to-play game — or rather, a new revision of an oldie. Ingress Prime launched today on the iOS App Store and Google Play for Android, and it’s a major redux of the original augmented-reality mobile game.
Much like the initial version of Ingress, this latest project combines Niantic’s real-world tech with location scouting. Unlike Pokémon Go, Niantic’s bigger hit, players assume the role of agents, exploring the world to identify and capture portals to collect Exotic Matter. Ingress Prime’s gameplay coheres around a storyline; not only are players special agents in service of this sci-fi goal, but they belong to one of two sides as they compete for total domination of the world’s portals.
That storyline will change over the course of the game’s lifespan, says Niantic, with help from Anomalies, community-minded events meant to get Ingress agents playing together in the real world. There will be 12 mainline Anomalies per quarter, and they’ll be divided between Asia, Europe, North America and South America, according to the company. The plan is to also have smaller events that run more regularly. The first of these starts Nov. 17 in different cities worldwide.
There’s also a webseries that helps to boil down the in-game lore, launching later this year, and even an anime commissioned for Netflix. The anime follows up on the Ingress storyline, with an agent named Makoto seeking out the dangerous Exotic Matter, and combines it with some CG animation. (Niantic also insistently points out that its soundtrack will include indie bands like Alt-J.) While Ingress: The Animation is airing in Japan right now, it won’t premiere in the West on Netflix until 2019.
Pokémon Go will benefit from the launch of Ingress Prime, despite there being another big-deal AR game on the market. An upcoming celebration of the new game’s launch will introduce two new shiny Pokémon into the wild: Cubone and Ponyta. No word quite yet on when that event begins, however, so stay tuned.
Ingress first launched in beta in November 2012, nearly six years ago. It quickly gained popularity after its full launch on Android in 2013, inspiring players to venture outdoors and turn the real world into a playing field. Pokémon Go stole some of its spotlight, but there remain diehard players out there.