Original Guide


Title:  A guide for new players
Source: Public collaboration


So what is this game?

Ingress is sort of a combination of geocaching and foursquare. You’ll use the GPS on your mobile phone to track down “portals”, and then you’ll claim them for your team. Other people will come along and see your portals: teammates can gain resources from your portals, but people from the other team will blow your portals up and lay their own claim. It’s sort of an endless territory war.

Game play gets reasonably complex as you build portals up for farming, or link them together to form control regions. It’s kind of awesome to be playing a territory-control game where the thing I’m controlling is my actual city. Of course, playing the game at that level does involve a lot of traveling to reach the portals surrounding the city. But most portals are in interesting locations, so sometimes it’s a good excuse to go exploring. :)

Ingress is also an Alternate Reality Game; there’s an elaborate mythos built up around the alien Shapers who are using subtle mind control for unknown purposes. Some of the videos are very cool, but this document is not about that. This document is about finding portals and making them yours.


Where can I find the official documentation?

The official documentation is at http://support.google.com/ingress.


This looks like kind of a long document, is there a short version?

(1) When constructing a portal, it’s important to place the resonators widely spaced, far out from the portal. If you do the opposite and place all the resonators on the portal, an attacker’s bursters will hit all the resonators at once. Resonators appear on the portal at the same distance you are from the portal — so, if you’re standing 20m away from the portal then resonators will appear 20m away.

(2) At low levels, attacking portals is very difficult. I estimate it would take ~32 L1 bursters to kill a well-constructed L1 portal, and you would have to go stand on each resonator in turn. At high levels, attacking portals is very easy. I estimate it would take 2-3 L8 bursters to kill an L8 portal, and as a side effect you would blow up most of the enemy resonators on that block.

(3) For leveling, you really need to find a bunch of neutral portals and link them all together into triangles.

(4) If you blow something up, you get 60% of the AP that the person constructing it got. (With a few exceptions where you get less.) If you blow something up and then the other team comes back and can easily rebuild it, you are feeding them experience. That doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t do it, but think first.

(5) You can’t use any item that is higher than your current level. For example if you have an L2 resonator, you can’t put it on a portal until you are level 2.

That’s not all you need to know, but I think it covers most of the nonobvious important things.


Where can I find portals?

Portals appear on most public art objects (sculptures, murals, etc) and also on post offices and libraries. Try looking downtown; try looking someplace tourist-y. If you’re just starting out, try to find a place with lots of portals close to each other — you’ll have more to do there. Here are some large collections of portals: The Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle:


The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco:


Once you’ve found a portal, you can “click” it to bring up the portal view, which has buttons like “Hack”, “Deploy”, “Recharge”, “Upgrade”, and “Target”.


What does the “Hack” button do?

You can “Hack” any portal (friend, neutral, or foe), so long as it is in range. Usually the portal will give you some items. If you try to hack an enemy portal, you will get fewer items (I think), and the portal will zap you for a small amount of damage, but you get +100 AP (100 experience) for audacity.

When you hack a portal, there’s a five-minute cooldown before you can hack it again. If you trigger the cooldown four times during a four-hour span, it will say “the portal has burned out” and the cooldown will last for the rest of that four-hour span. The cooldown only applies to you, though; your cooldown won’t stop anyone else from hacking.

When you hack a portal, you can quickly hit “Ok” and hack it again; sometimes due to lag you will get items from multiple hack attempts before triggering the cooldown. If you have the sound on when doing this, you will hear either a “succeeded at hacking” sound effect or a “hacking failed” sound effect for each attempt you made. When I hack a portal, I usually hack five times in a row, because, hey, can’t hurt, right?

Hacking a portal costs 100 XM per level of the portal. Higher-level portals will give higher-level items, though.


What’s XM exactly?

XM is those little dots that appear all over the map. It’s used for pretty much everything:

* Hacking a portal: costs 100 XM per level of the portal * Making a link: costs 250 XM * Recharging a portal: costs 1000 XM to add 1000 energy to the portal * Getting zapped by an enemy portal: XM loss as shown in Appendix 3 If you run out of XM, you can’t do anything until you collect more. If you run out of XM due to being zapped by an enemy portal, you also get red static all over your screen. Okay. So what’s this “Deploy” button do?

If a portal is neutral (and if you are sufficiently close to it), you can take control of it for your faction by deploying a resonator on it. This gives you a bonus of +500 AP (500 experience), which is a lot of AP for very little effort, so it’s usually very worthwhile to claim neutral portals.

Once you control the portal, you can add more resonators onto it, up to a maximum of 8 resonators per portal. If you put a lot of high-level resonators on a portal, the portal itself will be high-level, which means (A) it will give you high-level items when you hack it, and (B) it will zap enemies harder if they try to hack it.

When you deploy a resonator, it gets attached to the portal in one of the eight cardinal directions (N, NE, E, SE, …). The resonator’s distance from the portal is equal to your own distance from the portal when you deploy. The portal will be slightly harder to attack if your resonators are placed far out from the portal, so try to do that if you think there are enemy agents in the area.

The “Deploy” button will always put your lowest-level resonator on the portal (usually this is an L1). If you’re trying to build a higher-level portal with strong resonators, you have to use the “Upgrade” button instead. Despite the name, “Upgrade” can be used even on empty resonator slots. (You don’t have to put L1 resonators down first, you can upgrade straight to L2 or whatever.)


What does the “Link” button do?

When a portal has eight resonators, the “Deploy” button turns into a “Link” button. This lets you connect this portal to some other (friendly) portal that has eight resonators. You must have gotten a “portal key” from the destination portal, and your source portal must be high enough level to reach to the destination, and your link can’t cross any other links. Linking will use up your portal key. Linking gives you a few AP, but more importantly, if you link three portals in a triangle, you form a control region.

The link itself can’t be attacked, but if either of its portals are badly damaged your link will go down. The official help document says a portal will lose its links when “all eight of its resonators are reduced below the critical health level”. I believe the official help document is wrong; I believe the correct rule is that a portal will lose its links when it has less than 3 resonators left.


Whoa, what’s all this about portal keys?

When you hack a portal, if you aren’t holding a portal key for that portal, you have a good chance of getting one. If you are holding a portal key for that portal, you will never get another one by hacking.

If you drop your portal key(s) corresponding to this portal, and then you hack, then you have a good chance of getting another portal key. Then you can pick up the ones you dropped. If you’re just hacking to gain experience, don’t bother doing this. But, when you start building large control regions for mind units, it’s good to remember this works.

If you select a portal key from the “Ops” menu, it will give you a view of the corresponding portal, and also let you spend energy to recharge the portal from a distance. Recharging is slightly less efficient with distance: you lose 0.1% efficiency per 2km of distance. (So recharging is 50% efficient at 1000km, and becomes impossible at 2000km.)


What’s this about control regions?

When three portals are linked to form a triangle, it generates a control region, which gives you +1250 AP. A quick way to gain a lot of AP is to find an area with lots of portals, build them all up to eight resonators, and link them all into triangles.

Control regions also generate “Mind Units” which contribute to your team’s global score. The larger the control region (and the more densely populated the region), the more Mind Units. (Technically the description is you get one mind unit for each person enclosed in the triangle, based on census data.) For the tiny triangles you’re building to gain AP, you’ll barely get any Mind Units. To get lots of Mind Units, you’ll need to build a really big triangle — but for that you’ll need to level up a few times.

If one control region fully encloses another control region, both regions get credit for all the mind units they enclose.


What about these other buttons “Recharge” “Upgrade” and “Target”?

“Recharge” lets you spend your own XM to add energy to the portal’s resonators. You spend 1000 XM which gets divided evenly among all resonators that need energy. Note that you can also do this at long distance if you have a portal key for the portal (select it from the Ops menu).

“Upgrade” lets you apply portal shields to the portal, and also is the only way to put higher-level resonators on the portal. The steps are a bit involved (see here). Note that you don’t have to start out with an L1 resonator — you can go straight from an empty slot to a high-level resonator. Lastly there’s a thing in the “Upgrade” menu where you can spend 1000 XM to add 1000 energy to one resonator.

“Target” is used if the portal is far away. You’ll get a little orange thing pointing towards the portal, so that you’ll know which way to head to get to it.


I see some enemy portals on my map. What do I do?

Enemy portals will zap you once for every time you hack or attack them. If you don’t do either of those things, they’ll ignore you. Even if you do attack them, low-level portals won’t hurt you very badly; you’ll probably barely notice. There’s a table in the appendix with the exact damage numbers.

So the enemy portals aren’t a direct threat to you. However, maybe you wanted to build triangles out of those portals, and for that you need to convert them to your faction. Or maybe you want to prevent the enemy from hacking them to get items. Or maybe you just want to blow up the enemy resonators to gain experience. Any reason works.

Note that you can’t actually attack the portal itself. Instead, you’re attacking the resonators attached to the portal. When you’ve blown up all the resonators, the portal will turn back to neutral and you can claim it.

To attack you need items called “XMP Bursters”. An XMP Burster is like a bomb which deals damage to all enemy resonators in the area. Each burster can only be fired once. It always deals the most damage at the place you’re directly standing, and it deals less damage to resonators that are far away. So try to stand on the enemy resonator you’re attacking!

Level-1 bursters are pretty terrible: they have low damage and a very low blast radius. To kill a resonator with a level-1 burster you need to be standing on it (and even then it will take several hits). As you level up, things get better: higher-level bursters have much better damage and also a much higher blast radius. Once you get to level 5 or 6, you’ll be attacking one enemy portal and you’ll accidentally blow up resonators on some other enemy portal across the street. There are some numbers about this in the appendix.

If you long-press on the map and choose the “Fire XMP” option, it will fire off your highest-level burster. (Except, note that you can’t use any item that is higher level than you.) If you want to fire a weaker burster, you can do that from the Ops menu.


I just noticed a friendly portal going neutral. Or, I noticed there’s more enemy resonators (or less friendly resonators) than I expected.

It sounds like a player from the other team is hard at work conquering your portals!

In this situation, I usually try not to engage them. I wander off and get a coffee and recharge my phone, or I spend some time catching up on email and twitter, or I go back to whatever it was I was supposed to be doing before I started playing with portals. Then, after they’ve finished their thing and left the area, I come back and blow up everything they built and claim it back as my own.

If you must engage in PvP directly, the way to do it is to drop fresh new resonators on portals that are under attack. It will cost your opponent a lot of bursters to attack each of your resonators separately. If you time this very well, you can drop resonators on portals that have just gone neutral, which gets you the 500 AP bonus as well.

Sometimes when other agents take an action, it can take time for the updates to reach your phone. If you think your phone is out of sync, there’s a “Force Sync” button in the “Ops” menu, under “Device”.


I’m building a portal, and I want to make it hard for the enemy to kill.

Your resonators are easiest to kill when the enemy is standing on them. If you stand at maximum range from the portal and deploy your resonators from there, then your resonators will be spaced far out from the portal, and it will be harder for the enemy to hit them all with a single XMP Burster.

If some of your resonators happen to be someplace your opponents can’t stand on (like over water, or inside buildings), that makes them much harder to kill. High-level resonators are harder to kill than low-level resonators, so try to put your best resonators in places where the enemy can’t stand.

Don’t forget to put portal shields on your portal. The most common ones are rated at “+6″ which I think means the portal’s resonators take 6% less damage per shield attached.

Of course, if the enemy is firing high-level bursters, they can blow up your resonators no matter what. But you might as well make it expensive for them.


How long do my portals last? Can I make them last longer?

Resonators decay by 10% every 24 hours. You can use the “Recharge” button to recharge every resonator by a small amount; or, if you use the “Upgrade” menu, you can recharge individual resonators by a larger amount. If you have a portal key, you can use it from your inventory to recharge the portal from long distance.

You probably don’t want to recharge all your portals all the time. Recharge the important ones — the ones with good resonators or good links. For the rest, it’s easier to let them decay and rebuild them when you need them.


I got some sort of “Media” thing from hacking.

Allegedly, if you read the whatever-it-is carefully, you can get an “access code” out of it. If you enter the access code into the box in your “Ops” screen, it will give you a small amount of AP, plus some free items. (You can also enter codes into the lower right corner of http://www.ingress.com/intel.)

If you find friends who are on your team, you can trade codes with each other. More items for everyone!


It sounds like I should try to gain some levels.

At level 1 and 2, the only good way to gain experience is to drop resonators on friendly or neutral portals. (And you can build triangles if the portals are really close together.) Building a neutral portal up to 8 resonators is worth 2000 experience, so if you do that to five portals, that will get you to level 2.

If you can find a field of portals that nobody has claimed yet, you can claim them all and link them all into triangles for massive experience.

As you reach higher levels, you’ll be able to walk into a field of enemy portals and drop bursters to blow them all up. This will get you a lot of experience very fast, but you should really try to claim the portals too — don’t just leave them for the enemy to reclaim.


Okay, enough of this leveling stuff. I want to score some mind units for my team.

Yup. This one is hard, because you have to build great big triangles, meaning you have to travel long distances between portals.

You’ll need to be at least level 4 in order to link across long distances. In the Appendix there’s a chart of how far your portals can reach at different levels.

Remember to grab multiple portal keys every time you build a portal. The more portal keys, the more times you can link before coming back. And you want to keep one spare key so you can recharge the portal.

Try to put your portals in hard-to-reach places, because when the opposing team sees your big triangle go up, they will try to blow it up.

Remember that your links can’t cross any other links. If there are enemy links in the way, you can blow them up; if there are friendly links in the way, you are out of luck.

The most points are scored by people in areas where there aren’t many enemy agents.