Ingress players, you can now pull out your big guns.
Gamers who love the massively multiplayer geography-based augmented reality game of alien energy and the struggle between two factions to control it are in for a treat, as maker Niantic Labs gave Ingress players a boost with new levels, weapons, and tools in an update on Thursday.
The Android-only game has doubled the number of playable levels from 8 to 16, giving those players who reach higher levels the ability to store more of the game's XM energy and to recharge "portals" from further away. Portals appear at real-world landmarks in the game, and allow the factions that control them to share the game's alien XM energy.
The game has a devoted following of players who have developed in-person friendships through the meetings that game aficionados and Niantic have organized.
The update also lets players transport more than one in-game tool at a time with the new "capsules." The goal of the capsules is to allow faction members to share materiel across the globe more easily.
In addition, Niantic has lifted in-game restrictions on "ultra strike" weapons that made them available only to Motorola Droid owners. The special weapons are used in the game to crack open shielded portals.
Ingress has turned from something of a gaming curiosity into a minor sensation, clearing 2 million downloads with "a significant portion" of those being active gamers, a Niantic spokesperson told CNET. The game has scored an average 4.3-star rating from more than 120,000 reviewers on Google Play.
In January, the quasi-independent startup, founded by Google Earth's John Hanke and housed in Google's San Francisco offices, announced its third app alongside Ingress and the exploration app Field Trip, a game tied to an upcoming movie and book property called "Endgame."