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Pokémon Go developer Niantic is relaunching its first augmented reality game Ingress next year

New story arc, new tech, and a fancy new look.

Pokémon Go developer Niantic has announced that it's completely overhauling its first augmented reality game Ingress next year. The new update, known as Ingress Prime, will introduce a new story arc, new technology, and a new interface.

Ingress launched in 2012 and has, according to Niantic, been download over 20 million times. It offers an augmented reality experience broadly similar to Pokémon Go, albeit with a greater emphasis on collaborative teamwork and a cyberpunk, sci-fi twist. Instead of trainer teams, Ingress divides players (or Agents) into two factions: The Enlightened and The Resistance. Members of each are then tasked with locating and capturing "portals" around the world, each in the form of real-life public art and landmarks.

Ingress Prime, as the overhauled 2.0 version will be known, brings a completely redesigned user interface and improved sound design, both intended to deliver a swisher, more immersive sci-fi experience, as well as "state-of-the-art augmented reality technology". Ingress will also be moved to the same tech platform as Pokémon Go, enabling simultaneous improvements and fixes on a core level.

There's a new trailer to accompany the Prime announcement, and it features quite the acting:

Niantic has also offered some ominous story blurb over on the official Prime website. "Something is very wrong, Agent...", it says, "The world is not as it seems. A secret war is taking place in the shadows, and you have the power to mould the fate of this universe. But you'll need the right people... and you'll need a very special piece of technology: Ingress Prime." No word yet on whether that includes next-day delivery and video-on-demand.

The new look Ingress will launch on iPhone, iPad, and Android in 2018, and will kick-off with a re-tooled story arc, plus accompanying anime tie-in, designed to make the experience more accessible for new players. Niantic says that Ingress' global game board will reset as part of the new update, but that existing Agents will retain all of their current in-game progression, level and items when Ingress Prime arrives.

Speaking to The Verge about Prime, Niantic CEO John Hanke explained that Ingress "was the place where we figured out all of the things that we later applied to Pokémon Go, and will be drawing from for other projects that we do in the future." Those future projects, of course, include a brand-new augmented reality experience based on JK Rowling's Harry Potter universe, known as Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

Supporting three projects simultaneously might sound like a significant challenge for a company that has consistently struggled to provide a stable experience for Pokémon Go users, but Hanke says that, "We've been diligently building our capacity within the company over the past year [and] there are a lot more resources at our disposal now than at the time that we launched Pokémon Go."

Indeed, Eurogamer's resident Pokémon Go expert/obsessive Tom Phillips had many positive words to say about Niantic's successes in the recent Global Catch Challenge event, so that's hopefully a sign of things to come.

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