There are some things I'm glad I knew, or I wish I knew, when I first started playing. I'll briefly cover those here. Hopefully this is helpful for someone who is getting started with Ingress.
First, What is Ingress?
Ingress is a real-time, real-spaceRTS/MMO-like game developed by Google. Yes, real-space… like you-have-to-physically-be-there kind of game that uses your phone's GPS. Everyone around the globe is playing in the same space at the same time, and is a member of one of two opposing factions: Enlightened or Resistance.
This game has had me outside walking around in the middle of winter for hours, several days in a row... and loving it.
Getting Started with Ingress
This is not meant to be a comprehensive help (there's plenty of that around). This is a short kickoff for players just starting out.
- You don't see other players on your map. Lots of people ask me this. It would lead to all kinds of badness. It's almost better to wander around busy areas, trying to pick out the players vs people just texting. I know an enemy and I have stared each other down from across the street as we moved in opposite directions.
- XM vs AP. Scattered throughout the world is Exotic Matter (XM). It looks like little white dots on the ground. There are little bits all over, and large concentrations around portals. Think of this as your energy. Your XM depletes when doing stuff (e.g. hacking and recharging portals, getting attacked, etc). Try to stay at 100% by going near XM to "pick it up". That XM will still be there for other players (i.e. it's player-independent), and it will regenerate for you probably within an hour. Activity Points (AP) is what you're really after. This is what you collect in order to level up. You gain AP by doing stuff -- linking, hacking, recharging, attacking.
- Hack All Portals. Both friendly and hostile.... friendly ones will give you stuff, and hostile ones can give you stuff, and will probably attack you back. If you're lucky, there is a "farm" nearby of several friendly portals that you can hack to build your inventory. A single portal can be hacked by you once every 5 mins, up to 4 times in a 4 hour period.
- Attack enemy portals. As you hack portals, you'll get XMPs. Get close to an enemy portal and tap the OPS button at the top-right. Find an XMP and Fire it (you'll only be able to fire Level 1 XMPs at first). Fire as many as you like -- you get some AP for each firing. The XMP's strength diminishes with distance, so you may want to get close to the resonators (not necessarily the portal itself).
- There's an intel map that can be used to view anywhere in the world at ingress.com/intel. Unfortunately, it really doesn't work well on your mobile browser, so you'll need to use your PCUpdate: As of February 2013 they've created a mobile version, so you can use your phone while on missions, and also to plan your missions and watch local (or global) areas.
- Portal Keys are awesome. As you build inventory, you will get some keys. These are used to make links between portals. Once you use a key to make a link, it's gone from your inventory. Until you use it, though, it can be used to recharge the portal even when you're not around it.
- Aim to create links and control fields. These are where you'll get the majority of your AP. Just bear in mind that links cannot cross each other--neither friendly nor hostile--so be smart about what you link. You create a link between two portals, and a control field between three (making a triangle).
- Comm: All vs Faction. In the Communications box (you expand it from the bottom of your screen) there are two tabs (or modes). Both are very useful to keep an eye on. ALL is a readout of all action in your area, as well as your private faction chat and public chat (by both factions). Messages transmitted in this mode are public to both sides, so be careful! FACTION is a private chat visible only to your faction members in your area. Coordinate plans using this mode.
- This game drains your battery. Having your phone's screen and GPS on and active for extended periods will drain your battery quickly -- about 2 hours for my Galaxy Nexus. Many people buy a battery pack (like this one) as a backup. I got this one.
- BONUS TIP: Play With Others This is a social game. Get out there with others as much as possible -- higher-level players paired with new players can help them level up faster... and "show them the ropes." Use the faction Comm or local faction G+ group to see if anyone's up for a run.
If you feel like I've missed something important for those who are just getting started with Ingress, let us know in the comments.
- Join your faction's community. Hopefully you have a local one, but at least your global faction. These communities typically reside in Google+.
- Check out this what to do forum posting... it's got further information about what to actually do when you go out.
Of course, there are many layers to this game... again, more than I'll go into here. Have a look at these for further details:
- Official Ingress Help
- Questions on Arqade - a great question and answer site (Stack Overflow for gaming).
- Ingress Bootcamp
- Intel Map - very useful, but it only works on a PC.
- Access Levels - an excellent rundown of the different levels (1-8) and the AP gained for various activities.
- UPDATE: Ingress field Guide has been recommended by several people.
If you feel that there is some important information that a brand new player should know when getting started with Ingress, please let me know in the comments!