Fortnite: Battle Royale is a free app game that has become an instant playground craze for kids aged 8-12 across the globe.
Now playable on iPhones and iPads as well as PlayStation, XBox and Windows, Fortnite has topped the iTunes app chart in 13 countries and caused many distractions for middle school teachers in the States. The fact it’s spread like wildfire means it’s been dubbed the new Pokemon Go by numerous websites.
It’s also been compared to Minecraft because of its gameplay mechanics – but unlike the building block-style game that’s obsessively popular with 6-12 year olds, Fortnite is all about survival – by killing your enemies. It’s a strategy game of combat, using various guns and grenades to come out as the last character standing.
So, is Fortnite too violent for younger children? And is it really ‘free’ – or can you expect to see your phone bill creep up with sneaky in-app purchases?
Here’s everything parents need to know about Fortnite…
What’s the game Fortnite: Battle Royale about?
Fortnite was originally conceived as a computer game to be played on desktops, laptops and games consoles like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
As a computer game, Fortnite has the option to be played solo – this version’s called Save The World. Then, there’s the Multiplayer option, called Battle Royale.
As a free app, it’s the Battle Royale game that’s super popular amongst school kids. It’s multiplayer, so up to 100 people take part in a ‘match’ together.
The aim of the game is to be the only character left alive by the match’s end. So, you can expect the players to be stockpiling weapons to use against their competitors, and killing other characters.
Is my child old enough to play Fortnite?
On the app store, the game is rated as being suitable for children aged 12 and above and has a PEGI rating of 12. However, we know that many children under 12 are playing it with their friends.
The US parenting advice site, Common Sense Media, recommends that the game is only played by children 13 and up. It says it’s chosen this rating in part because of the multiplayer chat element.
On the site, parents have rated it as suitable for 11+, while child reviewers have rated it 10+.
One parent of a 12 year old described it as: “Minecraft Meets A Toned-Down Version of Call-Of-Duty”, adding “Fortnite has a Minecraft-like creative aspect, as players can build structures. Assault weapon guns are used to hunt people and shoot them dead, but there is no blood.
“Players are randomly assigned a male or female character. The female characters are over-sexualized with big chests, skin-tight clothes, small waists, and large rear ends. Also, be prepared for in-game purchases (additional weapons, etc.) that your child will beg for.”
Is Fortnite very violent?
Fortnite has a similar cartoony-style to Minecraft, and the violence isn’t bloody or gory. The animation is young-looking, colourful and includes crazy costumes, and even the app’s cover is a light, bright blue with a smirking blonde character. Looks innocent enough. But it is still a game about killing, and has elements of your standard shooter game.
Characters can also build ‘safe spaces’ to hide from other players, and this is where the Minecraft comparisons come in again – with players building and collecting their resources.
Generally, we’d say follow your own instincts when it comes to deciding whether or not you want your child to be playing Fortnite.
If you’ve already got an invite code floating around your house, we’d suggest giving it a go – and seeing for yourself whether you’re happy with the content or not.
Can my child talk to strangers on the Fortnite app?
Fortnite: Battle Royale offers a ‘solo mode’, a ‘duo mode’ and a ‘squad mode’ – meaning you can play by yourself, in a pair or in a small team of 4, either with friends or other players in the app.
When in multiplayer mode, there is a chat option, but according to Common Sense Media, there is a way to turn off voice chat, leaving on-screen messaging the only option – although that still allows expletives, etc.
Does Fortnite cost money to play?
The Fortnite app can be downloaded for free – and the game can be played for free, too.
You should be aware of the fact that there are pushes to buy optional in-app purchases: popular bonus items such as costumes or additional weapons.
Can my child play Fortnite in the UK?
Right now, Fortnite creators Epic Games are rolling out the mobile version of the game as an ‘Invite Event’.
Currently, you need to receive an invite code from someone who’s already playing the game – or you apply to go on a waiting list for a code.
However, many of the big YouTuber gamers, such as Ali-A and DanDTM, are broadcasting hours of videos of Fortnite gameplay – so it’s easy to watch pro gamers. Fortnite is now the most watched game on Twitch – the gamers’ video streaming channel.
Also, players can pull dance moves during gameplay, and some of these are starting to be emerge off screen.
So, if Fortnite’s yet to make it to your child’s school – it could be a little while longer (may be a few days!) before they’re talking all about it.