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The interactive monster-collecting app Pokemon Go was a global phenomenon that increased awareness of the potential of augmented reality games, inspiring millions of people around the world to grab their mobile device and set off into the great outdoors.
Since then, the AR gaming genre has grown to encompass quite a few fresh ideas. AR games work by using the device’s camera to superimpose 3D graphical elements onto the real world, as viewed on its display. The idea is to incorporate the user’s physical surroundings into the gameplay, creating a surreal mixed reality experience.
AR games involve mapping the user’s surroundings in order to overlay 3D virtual objects onto it. In the case of Pokemon Go, it meant users could get out and about, exploring their town or city in order to hunt for collectible Pokemon creatures.
One key advantage of AR games is that they can be played on even the cheapest mobile phone, so there’s no need to invest in an expensive and bulky VR headset. Simply grab your phone, switch the game on and explore your surroundings to try and complete the objectives.
The potential of AR games has yet to be fully realized, but developers have already created lots of highly original apps to enhance our experiences in the physical world. Here’s some of the hottest new AR games you can try today!
Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs
This is pretty much as you would imagine an augmented reality version of the popular Angry Birds game to be. Launch the game and it sets up a structure on a nearby table that can be viewed through your phone’s camera. Then, you use a slingshot to shoot those colorful, loveable Angry Birds at the structure in an attempt to destroy it and kill those nasty green pigs hiding inside. There are 70 different levels on the game, and many of the original characters from the popular franchise appear in it. The game is a couple of years old, but it works well and provides a very different and entertaining take on the classic Angry Birds experience.
Created by Niantic, the developer of the original AR hit Pokemon Go, Ingress Prime is widely considered to be one of the best AR games ever made. In the game, the discovery of an unknown, transdimensional force known as Exotic Matter by a team of scientists at CERN resulted in the creation of two factions, the Enlightened and the Resistance. The Enlightened faction seeks to harness and embrace the power of XM to transcend humanity to a higher dimension. Meanwhile the Resistance sees XM as humanity’s biggest threat, and is sworn to defend mankind by resisting the efforts of the Enlightened faction.
Ingress Prime uses your device’s GPS to locate and interact with “portals” in real-world locations, found at points of interest where human creativity is expressed, such as statues, monuments, unique architecture and historic buildings. Players choose a faction then use the map to find nearby portals, and are tasked with “hacking” them and building them up so the other team can’t get them. The game uses the portals as elements of a science fiction backstory along with a continuous open narrative provided through various forms of media.
Launching this summer, Peer is the creator of a unique social network that’s overlaid onto the real world, where users can explore physical locations and find information and digital objects amid their surroundings.
It’s an extremely ambitious project that aims to bring AR to the masses by overlaying 3D graphics atop of the entire world. In some ways, it can be considered an enhanced version of Google Maps, enabling users to search for nearby restaurants for example. When they arrive at their chosen restaurant to grab a bite to eat, they may be able to pick up a coupon placed outside by the restaurant owner, entitling them to a free coffee. Peer can also be used by creators, such as NFT artists, tasking people to visit different locations to mint digital collectibles.
Alternatively, a dinosaur museum can create huge, 3D dinosaurs that roam around the physical world outside their premises, enticing people to come and visit its exhibits.
Jurassic World Alive
Staying with the dinosaur theme, Jurassic World Alive enables players to get outside in the real world searching for various dinosaurs they need to collect. In some ways it’s similar to Pokemon Go, with users having to search different locations to discover the most difficult to find dinosaurs. Once they collect a dinosaur, they can train it and breed it to create hybrid dinosaurs, and then use them to fight battles with other players nearby.
While the game initially had a few bugs, the developer has seemingly ironed most of them out and it has built up a loyal player base. Players can even subscribe to the game to earn rewards, instead of spending money on in-app purchases.
The extremely original Zombies, Run! is not so much a game as a gamified fitness app that uses AR to simulate zombies and scare people into running away from them. To play the game, you’ll need some earbuds or headphones to listen to the audio as it narrates the story and tasks you with completing various missions while you're out and about on your daily jog. As the story progresses, there will be occasional interruptions by flesh-eating zombies that jump out of the shadows and chase after you, forcing you to start sprinting to outrun them. The game also works just as well on a treadmill.
Zombies, Run! cleverly merges AR elements with an enthralling audio story to motivate people to keep moving and it has proven incredibly effective and popular. The first four missions are available to play for free, and new ones can be unlocked either by paying for them, or by completing various challenges each week.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.