Best known for augmented reality mobile games, Niantic was founded in 2010 as an internal startup within Google, called Niantic Labs. The company’s first major breakthrough was Ingress, an original property that veered away from the traditional development of mobile applications and commonly agreed-upon gameplay aspects. About a year after Niantic became an independent entity, Pokémon GO launched and took the mobile gaming market by storm. Other less successful collaborative ventures followed, and according to Niantic’s latest announcement, the upcoming AR game, Peridotwill be its first original property since Ingress.
Pokémon GO fans familiar with Niantic’s Lightship technology and Points of Interest within the game will undoubtedly feel at home with Peridot. Though Peridot will handle the suggested locations in a manner applicable to its setting, much of the gameplay will retain Pokémon GO‘s approach to the simulation of AR creatures and their respective AI. Fans of Pikmin Bloom and the biggest toy fad of the late 1990s and early 2000s, Tamagotchi, will also have something to look forward to, as Peridot is, by all accounts, an interactive AR pet game.
While Peridot‘s release date has not been announced, Niantic will begin rolling out the game in select markets this month on both Google Play and Apple’s App Store. As the iterative test period during the soft launch continues, the number of available markets will gradually increase. Until players can experience the game’s charm first-hand, Niantic has disclosed some details regarding the general gameplay and behavior of its creatures, Peridots (or Dots, for short).
Like Pokémon GO and Pikmin Bloom, the game hinges on real-world exploration and the discovery of AR inhabitants invisible to the naked eye. Players will come across various mystical creatures that have been asleep for thousands of years and take on the role of their protectors. In other words, players will get to raise, train and play with Peridots before voluntarily extending their lineage after they reach maturity.
One of the game’s defining features is the Peridots ‘distinct personalities and appearances, which are based on the creatures’ unique archetypes and respective DNA. This also ties into the game’s breeding elements. Special breeding nests themed around certain archetypes will be made available at Points of Interest, allowing players to experiment with the inherent characteristics of the Dots’ offspring. To make the game more inclusive, players do not need to activate Points of Interest if they only wish to train, pet or feed their AR pets.
Although daily tasks in Peridot will include feeding, petting and walking the creatures, each Dot will have their unique personal needs and desires. Fortunately, Niantic does not reprimand players for neglecting their Dots by having them depart this plane of existence. Instead, the game will reward busy Peridot caretakers for returning to check in on the welfare of their virtual companions.
Niantic’s Lightship ARDK will ultimately ensure that Dots are endowed with the sentience to recognize different terrains and forage for items exclusive to their surroundings. Weather patterns will also affect the gameplay experience. Despite microtransactions being a thorny issue, the company has decided to include them. In-app purchases will remain optional, and while they might lend a hand to those looking to boost their Dot caretaker skills, they will not put players who opt out of them at a disadvantage.
Over the years, Niantic has had ample opportunity to test the effectiveness of its creations in the mobile gaming market and improve on existing technologies. Pokémon GO, in particular, is still a massively popular title among all generations of gamers. Despite nearing its sixth anniversary, the game continues to persevere thanks to its competitive nature and focus on real-life exploration, socialization and peer-to-peer communication. Due to the game’s huge success, Niantic’s decision to translate many of its defining features to Peridot does not come as a surprise.
What Pokémon GO fans should keep in mind, though, that Peridot will offer a vastly different experience, regardless of its similarities to other Niantic creations. Unlike the raids and battles that are prevalent in Pokémon GO, the game will mainly focus on nurturing an endangered species, allowing more room for a wider range of audiences. Whether Peridot can surpass the success of its indirect predecessor remains to be seen, but players feeling nostalgic about the bygone era of virtual pets, as well as AR enthusiasts hooked on Pokémon GO mechanics, would do well to keep an eye out for Peridot‘s official launch.
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