An XM Anomaly or simply Anomaly is one official storyline event run by Niantic itself that takes place across many countries and several weeks. At each event, which generally lasts four hours, agents of both factions compete to accomplish various objectives on top of normal Ingress gameplay. The faction who scores the most total points across every event in the series wins the Anomaly, and the Ingress storyline changes to reflect their victory.
Anomaly events are heavily publicized in advance and attract thousands of agents across both factions. During the event, which generally lasts four hours, agents compete to capture designated portals, complete special fields, control specific areas, crack codes, and outplay opponents in other challenges. Agents set rigorous battle plans, bring top-quality items, and travel long distances, making an Anomaly the highest-level gameplay experience.
The events themselves can be classified as Primary or Satellite events. Primary events, held in easily-accessible major cities with dense clusters of portals, have the most objectives, the highest attendance, the most brutal competition, and sponsored challenges. Niantic attends every Primary event, complete with the NL-1331 and Suzanna Moyer herself. Although the Satellite events are smaller in scope and scale, the competition is just as brutal and their outcomes have swung the entire Anomaly series.
The first major Anomaly was #13MAGNUS, which started on 12 October 2013 in New York City and concluded at 14 December 2013. Since then, six additional anomalies have taken place, each involving tens of thousands of agents and leaving permanent marks on the Ingress canon.
- Austin, TX, USA - PRIMARY
- Las Vegas, NV, USA, - Satellite
- Atlanta, GA, USA, - Satellite
- Medellin, Colombia, - Satellite
How Anomalies Are PlayedEdit
Anomalies take place worldwide for four to eight weeks. Factions compete to acquire points at Primary events, Satellite events, and MU Shift.
Anomaly events occur for about two to five hours in selected cities, with primary gameplay occurring at small clusters of tens to hundreds of portals within the city center. While different Anomalies have run under slightly different rules, the common gameplay is that factions receive points for capturing, linking, and fielding, with bonus points given for controlling designated Volatile Portals and forming fields over Clusters.
The Primary sites are measured four times during the event, within 10 minutes of known checkpoints. Volatile portals are revealed mere minutes before each checkpoint, and lose their volatility soon afterwards. Gameplay takes place in teams, with team leaders decided by Niantic months in advance. While the score is calculated after each checkpoint, team leaders are barred from releasing scoring information until after the final checkpoint.
Primary sites also tend to become something of Ingress conventions. Sponsors are out in force, Niantic employees hand out access codes and sell swag, fans hawk third-party memorabilia, distant teams meet up and exchange keys, and players even dress in team colors and themed costumes. Niantic bestows awards to players who break stat records, the NL-1331 is out and about for badge hunters, and parties rage late into the night.
In addition to Primary sites, the anomaly causes ripples in the XM fabric of other cities and turns them into Satellite sites, also referred to as Secondary or Remote sites. Victory in those locations also counts towards the total score, often to a greater degree than the Primary sites. Scoring at Satellites depends on the event, with some having a single checkpoint and others having two or four. Volatile portals are often announced earlier, and clusters depend more on city topology than Niantic's game design.
The global Mind Unit control also has an impact on the outcome of Anomalies. This is known as MU shift and is a representation of difference between initial and final global MU totals through the measurements. The faction with higher positive shift gets the points. This means that everybody in the world can have some effect on the event, although MU totals have historically remained fairly stable.
It has been theorized that the faction victory at Anomalies is largely irrelevant to the canon.
For example, the Enlightened victory in the lead-up to #13MAGNUS caused the Resistance's XM weapon to malfunction, transforming Roland Jarvis's conscience into pure XM and scattering it among 13 Shards. The fan-theory argues that had the Resistance won instead, the weapon would have fired and killed Jarvis, but his diabolical XM experiments would have regenerated his conscience among the Shards, leading to identical gameplay.
Despite the skepticism, Niantic has firmly and repeatedly stated that the storyline and interim events are influenced by the Anomalies.