How they’re similar
Both games take place in the world around you, with the primary interface derived from Google Maps and nodes placed in hotspots all around you. Statues, signs, buildings, and sometimes stores serve as these outposts in the world, although there seem to be a lot more on the Ingress map—it looks like Niantic trimmed the list significantly for Pokémon Go.
The Ingress map is a lot busier than Pokémon Go’s is—these screenshots were taken at the exact same spot.
As you near each location, called a portal in Ingress or a PokéStop in Pokémon Go, you can activate it to generate items used to help further your mission elsewhere in the game. The same five-minute wait between single-spot activations applies in both games, so you can’t just stand in one place and constantly generate inventory.
Also, the idea of team-based gameplay holds true across both games. Ingress has two factions battling for control of nodes and then linking them together to create control fields, while Pokémon Go lets its three player squads fight over control of nearby Pokémon gyms in the world. There’s a lot more to the team play in Ingress than in Pokémon Go so far, however.
How they differ
In fact, there’s a lot more to Ingress, period. Part of that is surely due to the fact that Ingress has been live for nearly four years now, including the initial beta period, and Pokémon Go has been around for a matter of weeks. Ingress has had more time to evolve upon its initial design and implement new features. However, Pokémon Go is also a much more streamlined game in general, likely because the franchise is meant to appeal to all ages while Ingress is clearly targeted towards older players.
Ingress has chat (between players and among teams), while Pokémon Go has no communication whatsoever, which probably makes it easier to avoid abuse and keep kids safe.
With Pokémon Go, the PokéStops are just there to feed you items—that’s their sole purpose. Ingress, on the other hand, makes each individual portal a battleground, and there are a lot of moving parts to taking over a portal for your faction. Players can install up to eight different resonators on each portal, and each of those has a strength level and can be upgraded or replenished when weakened.
In Pokémon Go, all you do is spin the marker and claim your prizes. In Ingress, there’s all of this stuff to sort out.
To take a portal away from the other team, you’ll need to fire off XMP bursts to weaken the resonators and try to remove them from the portal. On the other hand, if a portal is already under your faction’s command, you can help reinforce it when walking by. That’s a nice perk that Ingress offers over Pokémon, letting you support your team and ensure that your neighborhood’s hotspots stay under your command, rather than the constant back-and-forth approach of claiming gyms in Pokémon Go. Filling support slots in gyms could be considered Pokémon’s analog here, but again, it’s a simplified approach.
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