Ingress is an augmented reality game run by Niantic Labs (formerly a part of Google) that combines the best elements of online gaming with real world interaction and strategy.

At it’s core, Ingress is a modified capture the flag game with the entire world as the arena. There are two competing sides in the game: the Resistance and the Enlightened. Ingress players, called Agents, work towards the goals of their chosen faction.



During the daily game, Agents compete for control of specific places in the game called portals. These portals are an in game manifestation of real world locations: parks, works of art, churches, historic buildings, libraries, and other publicly accessible points of interest can all be portals. To take control of, or capture, a portal you must physically be in the location where it exists, and then you install virtual batteries, called resonators, to power up the portal for your faction. Each portal can have between 0 and 8 resonators installed on it, and the number and power of the resonators determines the portals power, otherwise known as the portal level. If you arrive at a location and the portal has been captured by the other faction,  you can use virtual weapons, called XMPs or bursters, to deplete the other faction’s resonators until they are out of energy allowing you to capture the portal for your faction.

Portals provide two primary functions in the Ingress world. They serve as places to go to get virtual gear that you need for continued play, and they provide anchors for the creation of links and fields.

Portals have 4 modification slots that can be modified with the items to slightly change their attributes.



In order to capture portals, create links and fields you must acquire gear. The basic rules for acquiring gear are that you must travel (physically) to a portal and then access (hack) that portal which causes it to provide you items. You can hack a portal once every 5 minutes, but no more than 4 times in a 4 hour period. A portal can be modified to change these basic rules, but this is the default state of all portals.

When you hack a portal, you will be given gear in accordance with the almost-but-not-quite-random number generator. The gear you get will fall into 3 main categories: Mods, Resonators, Weapons.


Mods can be installed onto portals to slightly alter their basic behavior. Most mods come in varying strengths, called rarities.

  • Shield: Defensive item that lowers the energy lost from XMP attacks.
  • Link Amp: Increases the distance that the portal can link to another portal.
  • Heatsync: Lowers the amount of time between successive hacks (player attempts to gain items) from the portal.
  • Multi-Hack: Increases the maximum number of hacks before a portal is burned out for an extended period of time.
  • Force Amp: Increases the power of the attacks a portal makes against the opposing faction.
  • Turret: Increases the likelihood that a portal will attack a member of the opposing faction.

Resonators are the batteries you use to power portals. They come in 8 levels, from 1 – 8, and you cannot use a level higher than your Agent level in Ingress. You are also limited in how many of each level of resonators you can deploy on a portal. A single agent may only deploy so many of each level resonator as follows:

  • 8 Level 1 resonators (R1) (a full portal)
  • 4 Level 2 resonators (R2)
  • 4 level 3 resonators (R3)
  • 4 level 4 resonators (R4)
  • 2 level 5 resonators (R5)
  • 2 level 6 resonators (R6)
  • 1 level 7 resonator (R7)
  • 1 level 8 resonator (R8)

So the best a single level 8 (or higher) agent can deploy on a 1 portal is R8, R7, R6, R6, R5, R5, R4, R4, which creates a level 5 Portal (P5). Portal level is determined by the average of the level of all the resonators on the portal divided by 8. Integer average, No rounding. Higher level portals give better gear.


Weapons are what you use to destroy the other faction’s portals (there is no friendly fire in Ingress) and come in 3 types. XMPs, and Ultrastrikes come in levels just like resonators and an Agent can only use weapons of their level or lower.

  • XMPs, or Bursters: These are the basic weapons in the game. When used they emit a burst of energy in an area of effect that travels outwards from your location. Higher level produce more damage and a larger area. The damage decreases in a roughly inverse square as it travels out from the center.
  • Ultrastrikes, or Strikes: These are specialized weapons that have a large amount of damage in a very small area. Typically used for destroying mods on portals.
  • Virus’ or Flip Cards: These are very rare weapons that instantly change the faction of a portal. A Resistance portal will become Enlightened, an Enlightened portal will become Resistance. There is no defense against their use. They come in 2 varieties, the Jarvis Virus (Resistance -> Enlightened) and the ADA Refactor (Enlightened->Resistance). The only restriction on these items is only 1 can be used each hour.
Miscellaneous Items
  • Power Cubes: These come in levels just like resonators and bursters, and they replenish your XM Bar. Think of your XM bar as a mana bar in other games, every action you perform takes a small bit of XM from your bar.
  • Portal Keys: These allow you to interact with a portal remotely to view it’s status and recharge it’s resonators. They are also used to create a link between two portals. When used to create a link, the key for the destination portal is consumed as part of the linking process.
Portal Level and Gear

Remember above when I said that the highest level portal a single agent can create is a P5? You may be wondering how you can obtain level 8 gear if you can’t create a P8. Portals are weighted to provide primarily gear at their level, and then step up a little bit for extra gear 1-2 levels above. You can get level 8 gear from a P6, but it’s much more rare. So how do you create a P6, P7, or P8? The answer lies in team play. You get together with your friends and your local community.

  • 2 level 8 Agents can create a level 6 portal.
  • 3 level 8 Agents can create a level 7 portal.
  • 8 level 8 Agents are required to create a level 8 portal.

You don’t all have to be there at the same time, anyone on your faction can upgrade the portal you captured by adding their resonators (or replacing your resonators if they’re lower level). Depending on the area you live in, level 8 portals may be quite rare, and they are often targets for the opposing faction to destroy as fast as possible.


Links & Fields

A link is a straight line that directly connects 2 portals of the same faction together. You create a link by going to a portal, then using a key for a remote portal to connect them together. Here’s the catch. A link cannot cross any other links, so the further away you go, the larger the chance that there will be other links in the way preventing you from connecting your portals.

A field is created when 3 portals are linked together in a triangle. When the triangle is closed, a field is created and the area under the field is turned to the color of the faction who created the field. This are is captured for that faction as long as the field remains in effect. When an area is captures, no links can be created in that area by either faction.

Creating a field generates a score for your faction, called Mind Units, or MUs. This roughly correlates to the amount of people who live under that field. This means that a field that covers many square miles in the rural Midwest may be worth less than a field that covers 10 blocks of New York City. A global snapshot of fields is taken every 5 hours (called a Checkpoint) and that determines which faction is winning in any local area, and globally.

Fields can be created of literally any size. The large the field, the more complications and coordination required to make it happen. It is not uncommon for large groups of Agents to coordinate and blanket a state, country, or continent in a field for their faction. These operations, or ops, take massive planning, coordination and resource distribution. Links hundreds of miles long are created in order to accomplish these tasks, and thousands of blocking links are cleared with military like precision in order to make these ops happen. This is where the true teamwork and community effort manifest themselves.



There are two factions, the Resistance and the Enlightened. I’ve tried to present this page totally faction agnostic, but the base philosophy of each is different. The Enlightened believe they they’re advancing humanity by partnering with an alien race known as the Shapers. The Resistance believe that we should direct our own destiny, by eschewing outside intervention and using our own ingenuity (by way of AI). By now hopefully you’re wondering which you should join. There’s only really 1 answer.

Join the Resistance. Protect Humanity!




This isn’t an exhaustive instruction manual, but I feel it’s a solid introduction into the world of Ingress. There are advanced topics for everything I’ve said here, and things are always more complicated than they seem but this should get you a good start on a fun new game!