Augmented Reality Confrontation: Pokémon Go Vs. Ingress

Four years ago, Ingress was created by a little-known developer Niantic . It was a mobile positioning game that set the stage for their next big game, Pokémon Go . Both are great fun and will take you away from home, but with very different tastes. Here’s a comparison of two of Niantic’s hits.


Pokémon Go is based on the same data and made by the same company as Ingress , so it’s no coincidence that they are very similar. The key difference between the two is that Ingress has been around for almost four years, while Pokémon Go has been out in just over a week. Comparing the two is more for fun and to see how each can improve.

  • Pokémon Go (Free, iOS & Android ): Ever since the first Pokémon game came out in 1996, would-be trainers have dreamed of roaming their world, catching and fighting Pokémon in real life gyms. Pokémon Go is as close as we can get . You can find Pokémon in your backyard, park, or office and fight them in gyms around the world. The game even focuses exclusively on the original 151 Pokémon to heighten the nostalgia.
  • Ingress (Free, iOS & Android ): Rather than trying to be the best ever, Ingress encourages you to work with a team . In particular, the team consists of about half of the players on the planet. You crack open portals and connect them together to form triangular fields. The team with the most areas covered wins. These basic gameplay mechanisms are supported by a sci-fi mystery story that gets deeper the more you solve it.

You can play both games at the same time and it works really well. Since Pokémon Go was based on the same location data as Ingress , you’ll often find that Pokémon gyms and Poké stops are Ingress portals as well. If you play one game, you may even bump into people playing another. It’s a pretty handy connection that all players can share. Like any good friend, these games can learn a lot from each other.

Ingress has a more organized community, but Pokémon Go has more

Ingress also runs Google+ and Facebook communities where you can make plans with people in your area. Most cities have separate groups for the two main factions: Resistance and Enlightened. Since Ingress requires collaboration with others to be successful, these groups are invaluable. As a player who was in the beginning , there were many competing groups, which made it difficult to coordinate. The community is well established these days to accomplish some amazing feats .

Pokémon Go, on the other hand, is still in its chaotic nascent stage. In my city, I found several complex groups, as well as several split groups for each of the three Pokémon Go factions. They, too, will settle down over time, but for now it will be more difficult for you to coordinate your actions with other players in your area. The lack of any in-game chat system complicates the task. You must know someone in real life who is playing this game in order to receive any verbal feedback on organized groups in your area.

Luckily, this is where Pokémon Go shines. The game is on a wave of popularity, news coverage and social media chatter, making it very easy to find other people playing the game. Even if the community is disorganized, you won’t have a shortage of people to play with for very long.

Pokémon Go has things to do, but Ingress is better at finding things to do

The lack of social features in Pokémon Go is less critical because it’s not hard to find something to do. Walk a few hundred feet from your house (if that’s the case) and you’ll find some Pokémon to catch. You can only complete the first few levels by catching wild Pokémon. In some rural areas, Pokémon spawn rates are not that high, but you don’t have to go to a specific location to find new Pokémon. You can even use items like incense to attract Pokémon to you. Wherever you go, you can find something to catch. In any case, theoretically.

Finding Poké Stops will be the hardest obstacle for those outside the densely populated cities. You need these landmarks to mine resources like Poke Balls. You can buy more resources for real money, but this is a pretty harsh punishment for not living in the city. Fortunately, poker stops are quite common. Unfortunately, in the game it is almost impossible to find them without taking a walk.

On the other hand, Ingress doesn’t offer much functionality unless you are near the portal. You can harvest XM – the resource you need to perform actions such as attacking a portal – but most portals have huge reserves of XM nearby anyway. On the positive side, it encourages you to get out of the house more often, but the downside is that, again, if there are no portals near you or you don’t live in a city, you run out of business very quickly.

To address this issue, Ingress has a Missions tab where you can find ready-made adventures to explore your area. For example, in my area, I have missions to explore each portal in a nearby Six Flags, a tour of historic sites in the city center, and a trail through the memorials in a nearby cemetery. Completing these missions earns you badges and rewards for your player profile. If you prefer to create your own adventures, you can use an Intel card . This tool allows you to explore your area to find portals near you and at what level they are. This can help you plan your trip before leaving home, to make sure your walk isn’t wasted.

Likewise, because the Ingress community is so organized and organized, players participate in global events called “anomalies” every quarter, “first Saturdays” every month, and periodically “mission days” hosted by Niantic in major cities around the world. In those days, players travel from all over to meet, play together on the streets of cities like Brooklyn, Tokyo, Shanghai, Lima and others, fight for their faction, and then everyone relax and enjoy an inter-faction party when it’s over.

Ideally, Pokémon Go will adopt some of these features over time. Ready-made quests would give Pokémon trainers great adventures. However, you can still use the Ingress tools for both games. Since Niantic uses most of the same location data for both games, if you find a portal on an Intel map , chances are there is a Poké Stop or a gym there as well.

Both games have a level cap issue, but Pokémon Go is not that bad.

In any online game, there is an internal tension between low and high level players. People who play once a week can never compete with people who play for hours every day. In a way, that’s okay! Both games are also co-op, meaning that low-level players are rewarded for collaborating with high-level players, and high-level players can help newcomers. The downside is that it makes it difficult to keep up with large dogs.

In Ingress, portals are guarded by objects called “resonators.” Higher level players can place resonators on their portals, which are almost impossible for lower level players to destroy. You can slowly gain experience by hacking enemy portals, but a lot of benefit comes from capturing portals, destroying enemy portals, and linking portals together. If your level is low and you don’t have high level friends to lend you a helping hand or help you prepare, it can take a long time to level up. This is where organized communities come in handy. You need a strong team to help you capture portals, build fields, collect items, and quickly climb the ranks. However, once you reach the eighth level in Ingress (max level – 16), you will be very good to go and the urge to level up will stop more. Once you hit your level limit, well … there is nothing to do other than what you have been doing all this time.

Pokémon Go suffers from a similar problem, but to a much lesser extent. Capturing Pokémon allows you to level up, which means you have an ample supply of tasks that you can complete to level up. You join a faction (Valor, Mystic, or Instinct) at level 5, but gyms are usually filled with seasoned Pokémon that will not be easy for newbies. Like Ingress portals, gyms are designed for team attacks or from high-level players. However, this is not the only way to level up.

Pokémon Go is perfect for players who only want to work with others occasionally. While I was writing this, I went down to a couple of nearby Poké Stops / portals. On the way, I managed to catch five Pokémon and get some resources. I couldn’t attack a gym nearby because it was too powerful, but I could still do something. Meanwhile, in Ingress, I could only hack a couple of nearby portals for a penny of experience. I was locked out for some parts of every game, but I felt a lot more pricked by the balance issues in Ingress .

Ingress is for the persistent, Pokémon Go is for everyone

Ingress has a special place in my heart since I have been playing (from time to time) all four years that it has existed. I see his prints all over Pokémon Go, and I’m worried that the players of this new game will have the same experience as me. Whether you’re chasing portals or Pokémon, any game that gets you out of the house and communicates is a winner in my book.

That being said, despite many improvements, Ingress’s barrier to entry is still slightly higher. The fact that you can’t do anything without portals, and pumping is slow without a command, is a pretty serious drawback. It’s insanely fun to collaborate with local teams, create art from portal fields, or attend live events . It won’t be easy for new players to get started, however, especially now that the game is so far away.

Pokémon Go , on the other hand, is so accessible that even kids can enjoy it with their parents . You can play as much as you want and the game will not stop you. If you want to work hard until you hit all the gyms in your city, or just catch a few Pokémon on your daily walk, you’re welcome. Hopefully Niantic will add the same quest tools or social features as Ingress, but this is just the beginning. If Ingress is any indication, Pokémon Go will only get better over time.


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