(Credit: Screenshots: Tom McNamara/Download.com)

Before the explosive success of Pokemon Go, developer Niantic Games cut its augmented reality teeth on a different project called Ingress (Android, iOS), back when it was a division of Google. In the years since, Niantic has learned a lot about AR and mobile game development, and it's decided to go back and revamp its old app with a new interface (for starters) -- though it's not all going according to plan.

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With Ingress, participants play a form of base capture that uses real-world locations, usually in major population centers. To make the experience as accessible as possible, there's no direct combat with other players, nor do you get an individual score. Instead, the score goes to the faction that you're associated with.

You have two to choose from: the "Enlightened," which believe in working with the fictional alien race that's creating these capture points; and the Resistance, which are skeptical of the aliens' motives and have decided to capture these points for themselves. According to Niantic, the app has been downloaded over 20 million times, and players from over 200 countries have participated in 2,000 live events since the game was launched in November 2012.

However, with Ingress Prime, Niantic may have underestimated the appeal of the app's visual overhaul, as there are widespread reports of difficulties with logging in and creating an account, which we also experienced during our testing. The only fix we could find for this issue was to simply wait a few minutes and try again.

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If you can get through the login process, you may encounter other issues; users report that the app's fancier design can use more data and have a bigger impact on battery drain, neither of which is desirable when you're mobile. The game may also be more likely to crash than before, and your capture points may unexpectedly disappear before you can collect points for your faction.

Niantic says in its announcement that it pushed back the original release date "after listening to feedback" and that "we were able and will continue to address gameplay design and quality concerns from our playtest communities," but it appears that there's still some work to be done on that front. On the other hand, the technical difficulties players are reporting aren't surprising, given how substantial of an update this is.

On the bright side, Ingress is free-to-play, so it's not a waste of money if you can't get the app to function -- though it does have an in-app purchase store where you can exchange real money for Chaos Matter Units (CMU) which are then used to buy gameplay boosts. So if you've purchased a bunch of CMU that you're itching to make use of, you might want to wait until the Prime version of Ingress has smoothed over its rough edges.

Takeaways

  • Niantic, the maker of Pokemon Go, has relaunched its previous game Ingress as "Ingress Prime," with updated visual elements and an overhauled interface.
  • However, a substantial number of users are reporting glitches ranging from random crashes to not being able to log in at all.

Also see

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.