The maker of Pokemon Go has launched a new demo that shows off the power of its augmented reality systems on 5G. Niantic recently announced Codename: Urban Legends, a new app that utilizes 5G technology and bandwidth capabilities to create an interactive online experience that involves multiple players simultaneously battling foes on a common AR battlefield. As shown in the trailer above, Codename: Urban Legends features multiple players battling the same creature at the same time, a noted shift from games like Ingress or Pokemon Go. While Pokemon Go does allow for players to participate in the same raid battle at one time, those raids have noticeable delays and don't utilize AR technology at all. The only shared AR experience that Pokemon Go has allows players to create a group of Pokemon with up to three players and almost no interactions involved. Codename: Urban Legends is a demo only and not a full AR game; however, it demonstrates what Niantic hopes to achieve by shifting its AR games to better utilize 5G technology.
Last year, Niantic formed its Planet-Scale AR Alliance, an organization of cellular carriers that are working to develop AR 5G experiences. Niantic's partners in the Planet-Scale AR Alliance have already been testing Codename: Urban Legends and have noted significant improvement, with up to 10 times as many simultaneous players and major improvements in latency, along with longer battery life.
Assuming that 5G coverage spreads to cover a wider area, we could definitely see how it improves upon games like Pokemon Go. The idea of a real-time raid is exciting, especially if things like positioning or player interactions are taken into account. The major question is whether Niantic will force players to switch to a 5G compatible phone, or if it will provide additional 5G features in addition to its current base games.
Niantic has promised more details about Codename: Urban Legends in the future.