This is the fourth post in a series detailing the experiences that my girlfriend and I have had playing Ingress as new players, casual players, and as suburban players (where the nearest “Portal clusters” are 30 minutes drive away – we have to rely on Post offices and Libraries for our Portals)
This I posted that review on the Official Ingress Community, and got rather a lot of good feedback, and a large number of suggestions.
One of the suggestions was “You should give your buddy your lower level XMP Bursters, and you should use your higher level ones.” – We were doing that. The problem we encountered had a lot more to do with the terrible drop rates we suffered through AFTER we had already burned through ALL of the XMP Bursters we had. So sharing or not sharing our resources wasn’t the issue that caused us so much grief. The fact that we weren’t getting ANY resources was a very large portion of our frustration.
Many, MANY people suggested that we ask for help in our Local Secure Faction Chat. Many other people suggested that we find a location where there was a relatively weak portal, with a LOT of links and fields hanging off of it.
In the end, we took ALL of that advice for our third major outing.
We managed to arrange a meetup with one of the highest level players in the area – Jake5280, who had hit Access Level 6 on Sunday, December 2nd. He was very helpful, and more than willing to help us burn down a local Level 3 portal (33334444) to a level that Audrey could take out the last piece, and claim all that delicious AP for breaking 6 links, and collapsing 5 Control Fields worth almost 5000 AP.
So, we got help from the highest level player we could find, who was more than willing to assist us in getting Audrey to Level 2 by picking out a super juicy target that is just one mile down the road from us. I traded him a number of L6 XMP Bursters that I won’t be able to use for quite some time for some Level 3′s. He gave Audrey essentially ALL of his L1 Bursters. Eighty Five of them, in fact. I was stunned. Eighty. Five. She should be set for a good long time.
How did our adventure actually work out?
We worked out a plan. With careful positioning and with careful selection of which level burster to use, Jake could work the Resonators down so that they had just a sliver of health left on them, so Audrey could pop them with the L1′s in her inventory. Some of the L3 resonators fell to collateral damage from the initial salvos of heavy hitters that should have ground them down without popping them, or from a lucky critical hit. Jake popped 3×3′s and 2×4′s, and ground the remaining 3 down to a small sliver for Audrey to clean up.
That said, it turned out that 2 of the remaining 3 Resonators were in the locked parking lot where they store the mail trucks. Burning down the last little bit (no more than 5-6 percent) of those two resonators took THIRTY FOUR L1 XMP bursters.
When that last Resonator popped and we heard that little tinkly sound that goes with it, Audrey was ELATED!
…for just long enough for her to realize that her AP bar hadn’t moved, she was still Level 1, and that she’d spent 34 L1 XMP Bursters to gain only 225 AP.
For some (unknown) reason, the credit for breaking the links and fields went to Jake and not Audrey.
So, for the readers at home – Having a high level player come assist you on a high value target DOES. NOT. HELP.
For Audrey to have been assured of dealing the last bits of damage to all 8 resonators would have taken over 100 L1 XMP bursters – i.e. more than the COMPLETE inventory of L1 Bursters of a L1, a L3, and a L6 player.
So, in the end, all of the issues that I have raised about the New Player Experience in areas where there are higher level players established have not only been confirmed, but all of the suggestions that the player community have brought to the table have proven have been tested, and found to be of no value at all.
L1 XMP Bursters, even when used in the DOZENS, are of little to no value – but they are the ONLY Bursters that new players can use. Additionally, L1 XMP Bursters absolutely do not drop in sufficient numbers to be routinely used dozens at a time by new players in areas that have significant numbers of existing players of either faction.
With more invitations going out every day, there will definitely be players (on college campuses, or who have access to downtown areas or art districts with TONS of portals) who have a smooth and easy experience getting to Level 3 or 4 and beyond.
However, as I’ve pointed out before, the U.S. Census says that more than 50% of Americans live in the Suburbs where Portals are thin on the ground, and it’s exceedingly easy for a small handful of players fighting over them to make progress anywhere from very difficult to impossible for new players via the simple (and sensible) act of upgrading (probably without a trace of malice or consideration for the New Player, just a simple “take and hold for my side” mindset) a single Resonator on a Portal to an L4, 5, or 6.
Audrey’s experience with Ingress as a brand new player with a very simple goal (Get to Level Two) in an area with established players has been so demoralizing that she is not, and will not, participate any further.
Her quote as we got into the car to drive home last night was, “This game seems like it would have a LOT of potential, but it’s SO difficult to accomplish anything when you’re the lowest level. Even WITH help. All I want to do is get to Level 2, but it’s like Niantic is doing EVERYTHING IN THEIR POWER to make this as fucking un-fun as possible.”
This is a significant problem.
Because she was signed up for the beta before I was. She was the pathfinder, and the one who was interested. I scored her an invite, and she was genuinely interested in going out and playing together. When I mentioned that I was looking at a USB GPS receiver for the laptop, she was stoked. When I asked if she wanted to go out on Thursday night and have our Date Night portal hunting, she was all “FUCK YEA!”
And all of that enthusiasm is completely, totally, absolutely…gone.
If the existing New Player Experience can turn THAT on its head, imagine how someone who’s comes in being on the fence about Ingress will react.