Ingress Playstyles

As mentioned in earlier posts, Ingress has various MMO-like characteristics. One of those is that the typical playstyle is attacking enemies (portals), similar to how in your average MMO, characters step out into the world and begin mass slaughtering everything to the horizon in every direction.

My local group calls this “booming” or “go boom”, as in “let’s get a group together and go boom XYZ-ville”. This is likely derived from players referring to taking over enemy portals as “blowing up the portal”. It is also common to refer to the physical location of the portal as well, as in “I’m blowing up Main Street” or “I’m booming the water tower later today”. I’m not sure if this terminology is the same across the country. Indeed, since Ingress is a truly international game, I’m curious what else this is called.

What it generally isn’t called is “killing”. A subtle difference but we Ingress players aren’t attacking sentient enemies; we are attacking portals filled with enemy resonators which also are inanimate. The in-game lore has portals serving some function that deals with the ongoing alien invasion of earth and portals are conduits to another dimension where exotic matter (XM) leaks over… okay gotcha. We’re taking down portals that are basically fancy cell phone towers. 😉

Speaking of attacking all the time – I believe Ingress supports a pacifist playstyle better than most MMOs. You can craft in most MMOs, YMMV but FF14 and EVE have great support for tradesmen and industrialists. You may need to fight a little to get crafting materials, but you can also buy/sell/trade on the market in addition to other mechanics those games support. Others like WoW or LoTRO or GW/GW2, if you want to craft you will end up having to fight mobs in the world unless something unusual is going on, like a friend is clearing mobs on your behalf.

In Ingress, the way you obtain equipment is through hacking a portal, friendly or enemy, and that doesn’t kill/destroy the portal. You can be a gatherer and keep you and your friends supplied with gear by hacking high level friendly or enemy portals. An enemy portal may attack you back, but it does not aggro in the sense of a continuous attack – it is more of a tit-for-tat strategy: hack an enemy portal, it may attack back, and if you pause/stop so will the portal.

As a complete pacifist, you can obtain every item in the game and level all the way to max. The only things which you would find tough involve enemy interference. Say you want to link two portals, or create a control field between three portals. If you decide you don’t want to attack, enemy links or enemy control fields might prevent you from doing the linking you want to do.

The process of hacking multiple portals for gear is called “farming” and I find it hilarious that this game uses the same terminology as in traditional MMOs for gathering supplies. It seems everyone understands what farming means in a computer game. Haha!

So, what can you do with all the stuff you gather? You can “build”/”building”, where you add/upgrade resonators and portal mods on friendly portals. Typically, we’ll do a build after the other side comes through and booms us. And vice versa. 😉

You can also go the pure healing route and gather portals keys and top off the portal’s energy reserve.

The reality is most players blend playstyles and at various time boom, farm, build, and heal. But it is certainly possible to have a preference or wind up playing a certain style depending on location. One friend works in the city and portals their flip constantly, multiple times a day. In that case there isn’t much point in trying to defend territory, everybody just attacks while getting to work. Another lives in the far suburbs and out there it is quiet and players just build and setup control fields.

The last playstyle Ingress offers is one that blends walking and gaming with an occasional historic tour: collecting banners or mosaics. Basically, players can set up missions that require visiting a sequence of portals. Activities at the portals are the usual hack, upgrade or mod – except in missions there is the ability to require players to view waypoints or answer questions. Viewing a waypoint opens up the Field Tripper website/app, also by Niantic (I believe the chain of databases was Field Tripper, many of those entries became Ingress portals, a subset of Ingress portals became Pokemon Go gyms/stops). Questions are a simple response, usually asking a question answered in a nearby sign.

Anyway, a mission creator can optionally give a background picture that fills in as the mission is completed. Since the Ingress app shows badges in a row of 6 columns, nearly every banner or mosaic involves some multiple of 6 missions.

For example, there is a mosaic in Old Town Alexandria, VA called “Alexandria Waterfront“, consisting of 18 missions, each of which requires visiting some number of portals. You can check out the final picture displayed in the app at the Ingress Mosaic site, which lists more info about the missions and waypoints involved. Most of this info, except the final picture, is available in the app or at the intel site but the Ingress Mosaic site gathers it all together and is very well done.

I’ve done a few local ones and surprisingly find myself really interested in several others. It’s fun to do a little day trip and explore, and in-game also earn a cool looking series of badges that form a larger picture. Some local players I know are hooked on collecting mosaics.

In summary, Ingress supports the typical combat playstyle (booming), farming/building, complete pacificst, and for lack of a better term, art collector via collecting mosaics/banners from missions. If I had to compare what MMO activity mosaic/banner collecting is closest to, I’d say housing decoration, because you gain something attractive to show off. In Ingress you might even discover and interesting place or learn a bit of history doing that. 😉

If you can’t tell, I am still having a ton of fun playing this game!

Next time I’ll talk about guardian portals and the trade-offs trying to earn that achievement.