This is a summary of the game from my point of view. Some parts may be inaccurate because that was how I perceived it. This post is in no way comprehensive of Ingress. Click here to read my thoughts on the game instead.
One of the minor reasons I got a new smartphone was because of the apps I could download and use. I actually made a list of all the apps I wanted by getting ideas from friends and a Vsauce segment called App All Knight.
One of these apps I got is this augmented-reality game called Ingress, which my best friend plays on his mobile.
The game is based in real time and space, meaning that you view a different world through your mobile device (called a Scanner) and you have to physically move around the real world to interact with the in-game objects. The game uses your device’s GPS to track your location, so you actually have to be in range of the objects to do anything at all.
These in-game objects are usually Portals. The story behind the game is that a new type of matter, called Exotic Matter or XM, has been found to be leaking into this world, mostly through the Portals. XM is believed to be able to affect human thoughts and emotions. Scientist have discovered a way to harvest XM and use it as an energy source to power electrical devices, like the Scanner. In the game, XM is scattered all around in splotches and when you move within range, the scanner absorbs the splotches of XM to recharge itself.
As with anything new, people are arguing over what they should do about XM. We humans have been split into two main factions: the Resistance and the Enlightened.
Because XM can influence human thoughts, the Resistance believe that XM is toxic, dangerous and the entities that have bled XM into our world (if any) are hostile. They believe that we should plug up the portals and set up defenses to protect humanity from XM and it’s creators/masters.
As you might imagine, the Enlightened take the opposite view. They want to learn about XM and use it to create new technology and improve everyone’s lives. If any entities are on the other side of the portals, then the Enlightened believe that we should welcome them, not unlike hosts welcoming guests to a party. They believe that a lot can be learnt from the entities and that we could share our knowledge with them too.
It’s a classic power battle between “change is good” and “change is bad”.
So what is a Portal? Portals are anything that showcase creativity, such as works of art, magnificent buildings and structures, or even unusual formations by nature. Those places have so much XM gathered that creativity and inspiration are at their peak. Hence, people put sculptures and works of art there and nature forms pretty and weird things.
These Portals are, by default, unclaimed, but both factions have to ability to claim Portals and fortify them. The Resistance is represented in Blue and the Enlightened in Green. Claiming a portal involves first destroying any opposing fortifications that portal may have, which are called Resonators. Resonators store XM and have different levels; the higher the level, the higher the storage capacity of XM. When all Resonators are destroyed, the Portal becomes unclaimed. To claim it, a user simply deploys a Resonator of his/her own. The Portal will be aligned to his/her faction and the Portal will be owned by the person who claimed it. Resonators are like batteries, they store the power needed to align a Portal and the energy slowly depletes over time. A user may recharge the Resonators by being in range. This uses up XM though.
The other type of fortification are called Mods, short for Modifications. These Mods include (but aren’t limited to) Portal Shields (which reduce incoming damage), Heat Sinks (which reduce the cooldown time between portal hacks), Multi-Hacks (which allow more hacks before the portal becomes overheated), Force Amps and Turrets (which improve the Portal’s counter-attack on enemies) and Link Amps (which expand a range a Portal can link to another Portal).
Hacking is the main activity of Ingress. To hack a Portal, the user must be within a 40m radius of the Portal, then press the Hack button. There is no physical skill involved when hacking and any portal may be hacked by any user. Hacking portals usually provides the user with items (Resonators, Weapons, Mods and Portal Keys) and this is the main way to increase one’s inventory. Hacking a portal of your own faction has a higher chance of giving you more or better items, while hacking an unclaimed or enemy portal will give you less or mediocre items. Hacking an enemy portal also grants you 100AP but it may counter attack and drain some of your XM. Regardless, all portals should be hacked when you get the chance to.
There is a five minute cooldown period between hacks, so Heat Sinks are useful if you have a nearby Portal you wish to hack multiple times in a short span of time. However, there is also a limit of four hacks a single user may perform on a single portal in a given four-hour cycle. Multi-Hack Mods increase this number, depending on the rarity of the Mod itself.
Portals will sometimes drop Portal Keys. These keys are needed to link two Portals together. Of course, there are several prerequisites before a link can be made, such as both portals must be within range of each other, both portals must have the same faction alignment as the user, and there must be no other links in between the portals. You only need one Key to link the Portals, but the Key is consumed once you use it. You may hack the Portal again to gain another Key and use that to link another portal as well. Portals have no limits to the number of outgoing links they can have at any one time, but can only hold a maximum of eight incoming links. Portal Keys also allow the user to recharge Portals remotely, although the distance does reduce the effectiveness a little.
Successfully creating three links between three Portals will form a triangle and the whole area within that triangle will become the colour of the faction. This is known as a Control Field, which has captured Mind Units (MUs). MUs are the only measurement of the control of different factions. It doesn’t matter how many Portals a faction has captured, it just matters how many MUs they have.
To destroy a Portal, players use weapons called Bursters. They have different levels as well, with higher levels doing more damage and having a further damage radius. Players can obtain Bursters that have a higher level than the player himself/herself but the Burster is unusable until the player reaches that level. Bursters explode and deal damage in an area, hitting all enemy Resonators in the radius. They drain the XM energy in the Resonators and when a Resonator has no energy, it is destroyed and cannot be recharged. The further away a Resonator is from the Burster’s point of origin, the less damage it will take. Shield Mods and links also reduce the amount of damage the Resonators receive.
The aim of the game is for one faction to annihilate the other by covering the entire world in Control Field, essentially gaining 100% of MUs (yes this is international). Of course, this will never happen, with the back and forth war between the factions.
Players can’t die in the game. The closest thing to “death” would be having no more XM energy in their Scanner and thus their Scanner would be disabled until it absorbs more XM. The Scanner can also be recharged by recycling items or by consuming Power Cubes (which give 1000XM multiplied by the Cube’s level).
Hacking enemy Portals, destroying Resonators and links, claiming Portals, applying Mods, creating Links and Control Fields all reward the player with Action Points (AP). AP is used to level up. Currently there are only eight levels, but it takes quite a while to get there purely because of the sheer amount of AP required.