Best Augmented Reality Games 2016 – The Newcomers, pokemon go

Best Augmented Reality Games 2017 – The Newcomers

The best augmented reality games (and I mean THE best augmented reality games) may be yet to come out thanks to the newness of the technology, but we sure can’t deny the fact that what we’ve been presented with thus far has well and truly surpassed our expectations.

Pokémon came out  just recently and clearly, everybody was taken by surprise at just how much the video game industry has evolved. If you’re behind the news, Pokémon Go is the new culprit behind relationship breakups, people walking at night (yes, like zombies), introverts making friends and agoraphobics slowly developing claustrophobia.

Interested already? Well, you better be, because well, everyone else is.

Pokémon’s step forward has been nothing but good news to both developers – who now have a new impetus to explore the technologies before them – and gamers – who can finally play without necessarily staying tethered to their seats in solitude.

Another quite interesting discovery just pops up: that we don’t have any other augmented reality games, or maybe that people were super-clueless before Pokémon, or just that the other games were and still are not worth the time.

I’ll go with the middle concept: lads know only Pokémon. And that brings us to the topic: what are the (other) best augmented reality games on the market right now, if any?

Well, there are other augmented reality games – several of them, and below we are going to discuss the five best, Pokémon included.

5. Ingress

ingress augmented ringress augmented reality gamesappI’m told this laid the blueprint for Pokemon GO, so if you love the son you’ve got to respect the father. In better terms, the guys behind Pokemon GO are the same guys behind Ingress.

The game’s theme revolves around two conflicting societies “The Enlightened” and “The Resistance” with the former playing the villain. For the natural masochists, this is especially for you because you’re not tied down to playing the good guy like in most battle games; you can be in either team.

The idea is to go outside and collect as many weapons, round as many enemy fighters and conquer as many territories as possible. It’s a never-ending storyline with stages steadily toughening and weapons getting more sophisticated by day. A journey that – just like in real-world battles – you can’t dessert in midstream only that your continuous involvement in this case is voluntary.

What makes it even more interesting is how you can track your allies (real-life gamers) and communicate with them through the game’s built-in Intelligence map. An online Investigation team, meanwhile, will keep surprising you with new tricks and cryptic clues so you can keep up with the pace as the storyline develops.

Ingress is available for free for both Android and iOS devices.

4. Clandestine Anomaly

Developed by ZenFri, a Canadian interactive media behemoth, Clandestine Anomaly is that sort of augmented reality games that on paper will automatically have you twitching for the real thing. It came out back in early 2015 but didn’t really procure the reception the mind-blowing creativity behind it warranted. Overall, the number of users to date can be fairly termed as fitting keeping in mind AR became recognized just the other day.

So, what is it all about?

In words of one syllable, Clandestine Anomaly is a blend of augmented reality games’ gameplay and conventional tower defense mechanics. It takes your GPS location and creates a real world (invaded by aliens which you have to get rid of) around it. Yes, you defending the streets of your hometown from aliens with just your Android or iOS device.

Save for the fact that ZenFri tried to blend too many concepts in one page, the game is nearly as cool as its name. It starts with an alien vehicle approaching your neighbourhood at breakneck speed, a situation that demands you to respond pronto or have it going out of hand in minutes. So the first step is to counter the alien ship from crash landing before now joining the rest of the human race in defending further destruction.

The visuals are captivating, at the very least. The aliens are movie-like, and the sight of them and machines waging war among real life object in your backyard, makes it even more alluring.

What probably counted against the game when it came out had nothing to do with the game itself. The spread of smartphones with GPS functionality and high-end visuals was still low and phone batteries didn’t (and still don’t) last long enough. Of course, as an inadvertent solution to the battery issue, we have powerbanks right off the shelves these days. Also phones with contemporary visuals are affordable such that anyone anywhere around the world can obtain one. But that’s not just it. ZenFri also made the game playable without necessarily using the AR side of it, or in other words, changeable to a traditional mobile game. But isn’t that just losing the plot?

Clandestine Anomaly ist available for free for:

Clandestine Anomaly for Android

Clandestine Anomaly for iOS

3. ZOMBIES, RUN

Zombies, Run is most probably not new to most of us. It’s the other extreme of Pokémon GO in plot; instead of chasing and trying to catch Pokémon in the backyard, packing lots, shopping malls and even police stations, you’re actually going out to run from the zombies drooling for your yummy brains. Just for the record, you can’t be a zombie yourself, so you better get used to running for your life if you’re going to download this app.

zombies run augmented reality gameThe game has been installed more than two million times since its release late last year and has been used as an adventure, sci-fi and action experience as well as a fitness app. Yes, zombies finally are associated with something positive: helping you burn calories.

It is designed for all levels of skill; you can walk, jog or run but will have to increase your speed no matter where you start as the zombies’ pursuit of you slowly intensifies. With the help of earphones and a little reflex fear, the experience can become quite life-like and you can actually be running out of dread.

Just like Ingress, the game is pretty much unending. There is more than enough levels to take you through a month of attempts and more than 120 of them that can be obtained via in-app purchases. As you enter new missions and achieve greater milestones, your runs are well-documented and you can actually share them on Facebook and Twitter for everyone to see.

For fitness buffs, the app/game is strictly designed for running. It won’t tell you how many pounds you’ve shed, your heart rate at full speed or what food to include in your next meal, but it seems to keep people running.

Get Zombies, Run for free on Android or iOS.

2. Parallel Kingdom – Age Of Ascension

If you’re among the few who love fantasy as much they do horror and war, here is one for you. Parallel Kingdom uses GPS and AR to turn your living room, backyard or street into a world of magic and you the king. You may choose to be good and bring peace to the world or just be you and build a formidable military to conquer everything.

So how does it go?

First install the app from App Store or Google Play and create your own character. Then set your location and start playing. You will have started a journey with life-like animals, buildings, caves, trees and people all of which will be part and parcel of your experience as you build, fight, destroy, collect items, strengthen your army, conquer new places and move to the next levels through diplomacy or war.

What’s interesting about the game is that you’re dominating and conquering a city you’re familiar with: your home city. What would even be more interesting is the challenge you’re going to face if there are other Parallel Kingdom players in your neighbourhood. Now that means battling for power, and you will sure have to struggle to have a share. But don’t dread just because you’re not handy; that’s what makes it lifelike. It can actually get too boring if you’re alone in the city playing the game. It’s pretty much like playing football alone, with the goal all open for you to score.

The game is absolutely free to download and install. Its developers have even gone an extra mile of making it available in other forms other than as an app. You can play it on your browser, for instance, but only for a limited time.

If you’re just getting started on AR games, I would recommend you give Parallel Kingdom a go. It’s eventful, mesmerizing and, above all, easy to play.

Parallel Kingdom for Android

Parallel Kingdom for iOS

1. Pokémon Go

And finally, to the mother of all augmented reality games at the moment: Pokémon GO. This is a new location-based AR game that has completely revolutionalised the gaming industry (it’s still in its infancy mind you).

It’s still a Pokémon game, just like the rest of them with the same name before it (you chase critters, catch them and assimilate them into your team), only that this has the real world integrated into it too.

It uses your phone’s GPS functionality to track your location and a manipulated Google map as the central game board. The AR functionality, on the other hand uses your device’s back camera to display Pokémon as though they are actually in front of you among real life objects.

Pokémon will appear on your virtual map as you walk around. Nintendo has used only the original 151 Pokémon in Pokémon GO (note there are 729 of them in total), and leave flurries on your phone’s screen are a sign of a rarer species in the vicinity. A tiny bar at the bottom right corner of your screen is a guide of the Pokémon around you with a three-footprint sign indicating those that are further away and a one-footprint one signaling that a Pokémon may actually be right behind you.

To catch the creature, tap on it on your screen and it will appear “in front” of you. Throw Pokéballs by swiping and wait till the circle around the Pokémon shrinks to hit the creature.

The beauty of the game is that your phone is not assigned its own Pokémon so you are sure you will catch them when you want. No. If someone snatches the one you are eyeing, it’s gone, and you have to wait for the next one. Good thing is that the common species are pretty much everywhere; you will beat competitors a few times too! The rarer species include Charizard, Ditto, Omastar, Charmeleon, Dragonair, Muk and Vaporeon.

One more thing you may want to know about the game is the “Pokémon Gym”. What is it? Well, as I pointed out earlier in the article, it’s an army you’re building by collecting these mysterious creatures. And just in case you didn’t know this already, training is what follows recruitment for any army. In Pokémon GO, though, it’s a special kind of training; you first make them stronger using items known as “Stardust” that you receive every time you catch a Pokémon, and “candy”, which are similar to Stardust but species-specific, then you make them fight.

On the question of whether you have to get out of the house to play the game, well, it’s not mandatory, but you may have to pay more in real currency for that. Yes, that’s how much Nintendo wants you to go outside and shed some pounds, meet new people and walk into walls.

So that’s the game that’s been driving people crazy. It was launched in the UK on 13th July and is – at the time of writing this article – available in 34 countries across the world. You can join the rest of the world by simply installing the app from App Store or Google Play. Just be watchful not to blunder into an oncoming truck or walk off a cliff. It’s not worth it.

Pokémon Go for Android

Pokémon Go for iOS

The Future Of Augmented Reality Games

There you go – five of the best life-like games to switch to once you realize Call of Duty and Clash Royale are no longer the cream of the crop. I’d recommend Pokémon GO in a split second if you asked me but of course it’s all down to individual conscience on what theme of the various offered by the above augmented reality games fascinates you. What’s common with them is that they are not just simple augemented reality games. Affordable adventure packages for all categories of thrill-seekers is what I would call them, and the number of notorious non-gamers that have taken a sudden switchover since Pokémon is right there for you to see.

For the techies, our question of when the Augmented Reality Games technology will actually be made useful has been partially answered and in an incredible way. The entry level product has been so exciting that I just can’t wait for whatever – game or not – is on the stocks for next. Perhaps an AR/VR combination? Probably better. You can leave your comments and questions apropos the best augmented reality games in the comment section below and let us know what you think about this new fad and how many Pokémon you’ve caught yourself!

See recommended VR headsets on Amazon

HTC Vive

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Oculus Rift

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Sony Playstation VR

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Samsung Gear VR

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