Niantic may be best-known for the massive hit Pokémon Go, but for its next major release the studio is going back to the beginning. Today the developer revealed that it’s working on a significant update to its debut augmented reality game, Ingress. Called Ingress Prime, the overhauled version of the game will be launching next year, and will change virtually every aspect of the experience — from the art, design, and narrative, to the underlying technology that powers it. “This game was the place where we figured out all of the things that we later applied to Pokémon Go, and will be drawing from for other projects that we do in the future,” says Niantic CEO John Hanke. “We really look at it as our spiritual core.”

Ingress first launched in 2012, when Niantic was still a subsidiary of Google, and its futuristic world puts players on one of two factions at a time when humanity has discovered a new technology could point to the existence of alien life. It includes augmented reality and location-based elements, much like Pokémon Go, and Niantic says the game has since been downloaded more than 20 million times across both Android and iOS. In some ways, the game was really ahead of its time; five years ago when it launched, far fewer people understood the concept of an AR game in the way that they do now. With the explosive popularity of Pokémon Go, which has been downloaded more than 750 million times, the idea is much more mainstream.

For Niantic, that made it a great time to re-introduce Ingress to a potentially more receptive audience,…

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