Jul 20th, 2016

Pokémon GO is a worldwide phenomenon. It seems like everyone on the planet is playing. We’ve never seen a mobile game like this before…or have we? In 2013, a game called Ingress was released by a developer named Niantic. Yes, the same Niantic Labs you see every time Pokémon GO starts up.

Ingress was not an immediate widespread success like Pokémon GO, but it’s the backbone of the new game. Much of the data used in Pokémon GO, such as Pokestops and Gyms, has been pulled straight from Ingress. Loyal players will argue that Ingress is a far better game, but Pokémon GO already has more players. Which AR game is the best? Here are two opposing opinions.

The Argument for Pokémon GO

by Joe Fedewa

pokemon go pidgey

Many people have a long history with Pokémon going back to their childhoods. I am not one of them. I haven’t played any of the previous Pokémon games or even watched the TV show. Before downloading Pokémon GO, I could name maybe five Pokémon in total. For me, Pokémon GO and Ingress are two things that I don’t know much about. Yet I am thoroughly addicted to the former and bored with the latter.

Simplicity & Popularity

Pokémon GO is an easy game for beginners to pick up and play. Even if you don’t know anything about Pokémon, the idea of walking around and catching little monsters is easy to understand. There’s a lot more to the game under the surface, but the basic premise fits with the tagline that everyone has heard: “gotta catch ’em all.”

Ingress is sort of a mess at the beginning. It’s all about the Higgs Boson particle, physicists, and alien matter. Not only is the story more complicated, but Ingress doesn’t have the benefit of being a 20-year-old household name. That notoriety means more people are willing to give it a try. Popularity alone doesn’t make it a better game, but seeing players out in the world adds to the Pokémon GO experience.

Popularity is what drives games like Pokémon GO and Ingress. If you were the only one in your city playing these games it would be pretty boring. Pokémon GO has a huge advantage in popularity. You can easily walk outside and find other people playing Pokémon GO. It’s a little unfair to use popularity as an advantage for Pokémon GO, but for what is essentially an MMO IRL, it’s important.

More to do

pokemon-go-desk

Both of these games are designed to get you out of the house. Pokémon GO has a few things you can do at home, but Ingress is practically useless unless you’re at a Portal. A lot of people have been complaining about Pokémon GO in rural areas, but it’s even worse for Ingress. This is one of my biggest problems with Ingress.

Pokémon GO will usually have something for you to do, no matter where you are. If you’re not near a Pokestop or Gym you’ll still probably see a Pidgey or two nearby. I’ve caught plenty of Pokémon in my own backyard. You definitely have to go exploring if you want the full experience, but it’s nice that you can still play the game in some capacity without leaving home. The Incense item in Pokémon GO is practically made for homebodies.

What makes it great

Ingress has always felt like this massive world that I would never understand. Pokémon GO is literally made for kids, which can seem like a negative to some older kids adults, but it makes for a simple and addictive game. Ultimately, I am a casual gamer at heart. My favorite games are the ones that you can pick up and immediately understand and play.

The brilliance of Pokémon GO is that everything isn’t explained at the start. You’re taught a few basic techniques and then sent on your way. This gives you just enough information to get addicted. You learn about the more complex techniques as you’re playing. Accessibility is key in games that require a lot of people, and that’s what makes Pokémon GO so great for all ages.

The Argument for Ingress

by Nick Gray

ingress

Based on the hype, you might think that Pokémon GO is one of the best games ever made. The truth is that it’s a simple game, based on the mechanics that Ingress introduced a few years back. At their core, the two games are pretty similar, but there are a few key differences which make Ingress a better game.

More Strategy

Both games are based on the premise that you have to get off the couch and explore the world in order advance in the game. Pokémon GO has PokéStops and Ingress has Portals, which are scattered across the globe at notable locations.  While PokéStops and Portals serve to fill up on supplies in both games, Portals in Ingress can also be controlled by one of the two factions and can be linked to other portals. If you manage to successfully link three portals together, a control field is created, giving your faction more control in your area. While this can be compared to battling things out at a gym in Pokémon GO, Ingress players need to strategize and identify which portals they need to take control of and then travel to said portal to create a link – giving Ingress a real reason to walk a few miles to a specific location or hop in their car and drive across town.

Ingress also has Missions which are unique to each area and require users to travel to different portals and explore their surroundings.

Community is key

There are millions of Pokémon GO players roaming the streets across the globe, but the game doesn’t really have any multi-player features. Sure, you get to battle other Pokémon if you hang out near a gym, but Ingress was built with the community gaming in mind. Some estimate that there are roughly 1 million active Ingress users. That’s not a huge number, but those players are dedicated enough to participate in the Live Events which Ingress schedules every month at cities around the globe.

I’ve participated in two Live Events in my city over the past two years, but I’ve met people who have traveled thousands of miles and have participated in dozens of Live Events in the US and Europe. During these events, the two Ingress factions battle for control of the city.

The reason large events like this have been successful is because Ingress is designed to be a community-based game. When a faction takes control of a portal, the only way that portal can be fully upgraded is if eight players from the same faction deploy level 8 resonators to it. Ingress players can also help each other out by leaving portal keys for others to pick up or attach a high-level portal from the opposing faction so that a new player within their faction can take it over and gain experience points and level up quicker.

Sure, Ingress may not be as cutesy or as easy to learn as Pokémon GO, but the game has a lot more to offer. Pokémon GO does allow you to stay in the backyard and catch a few Pokémon, but how many low-level Pidgey and Rattata’s do you really want to collect

Which is better?

POKEMON GO INGRESS

We just laid out two arguments for Pokémon GO and Ingress, but now it’s your turn! Which AR game is the best? Both of these games have a lot of great qualities. Getting people out of the house to play a game is always a good thing. Whether you prefer catching Pokémon or hacking Portals, you’ll get some exercise and maybe make a few new friends. Let us know which game you think is the best!

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