Fortnite was released for PS4, Xbox One, Windows and Mac OS back in the summer of 2017 and has an PEGI age rating of 12 for violence (no blood). Its now on the Nintendo switch and can be used cross platforms (ie xbox and switch players can link up through their epic games account but not ps4 players)
- The standard edition of the game costs around £35 but it’s the free to play Battle Royale (100 players, last man standing) mode that is so overwhelmingly popular. There are several modes to it – solo is most popular, but there are 50/50 games and 4 player team games (connect together via headphones – can be anyone in your team or you can lock down to just your friends).
- You can pay extra money for battle passes that allow you to earn extra rewards or you can buy extra loot and weapons, costumes, and even dance moves but these are not required to have any greater chance at winning. Lots of discussion around the validity of skins as they denote the level of player – from noob to the Reaper (costs £8 in the online store).
- New battlepasses are out regularly. Map has changed considerably and there are new weapons/skins etc.
- A version of the game is now available on iOS for a limited number of players.
- The game can be played as part of a team of 2-4 players also. A new mode of five teams of 20 is now available too – also teams of 50/50.
- The multiplayer ‘Battle Royale’ version involves up to 100 people playing against each other and is the version that most child are wanting to play (as opposed to the Save the Day solo version which is also available)
- Fortnite is rated 12, so first and foremost, if your child is under 12 they shouldn’t be playing it anyway. It has a community of over 40 million players online and sadly some gamers are not nice people and if they have headsets they may be abusive or insensitive.
- There are settings on both PS4 and Xbox One to mute other players if they are abusive and you can report them if they’re particularly despicable.
- It is a shooter game (of a similar vein as Hunger Games) where players are dropped unarmed onto an island. There, they must make their way to ‘houses’, where they find weapons they then use to shoot and kill, they build structures and try to avoid the destructive storm that threatens all outside its safe zone. The last player standing after all else are killed is deemed the winner.
- Games on Fortnite can last up to 20 minutes, however, so parents/ teachers demanding a child to stop playing in the middle of the game is unlikely to go down very well.
- Unlike many online games where you are ‘respawned’ should you die and are able to continue to play, keeping alive is the difference between winning and losing and means a lot more in Fortnite than in many other shooter games.
- If you are playing in squads (teams of 4+) you can get regenerated (regen’d) by your team mates if you take on some damage. This causes conflict as some of the team rage if they are not helped out – this can spill over into the real world in the playground.
Do we need to worry about violence?
- Like most video games, Fortnite has an element of violence to it as the game revolves around collecting guns and surviving for as long as possible. Due to the age 12 rating though, actual violence is pretty minimal. There’s no gore or blood, and when a player is shot, it’s numbers that jump out their body to indicate how much damage has been done to their health.
- There is also a slightly absurd nature to it all, with people in animal costumes attacking astronauts with pic axes, that kind of tones down any real feeling of violence.
Who do you play with?
- You can play with your friends but you will also have unknowns joining the game as well. When playing in teams this requires strategy and communication and can sometimes result in players abusing others when they are not so happy with their efforts but it can also result in great cooperation, teamwork and communication. They can be developing skills in planning, thinking ahead, strategising and they will be creating and building.
Can they chat to other users?
- Yes, there are onscreen or audio chats available to other players. These can be turned off via the settings then head to audio. Many don’t bother with the onscreen chat as it is too hard to play and type! There is no voice chat in the iOS version yet but it does have text chat.
What should kids be aware of before playing Fortnite?
- It has been described as highly addictive so some time limits may need to be enforced.
- Ideally it should be kept out of bedrooms to avoid late night temptations.
- This will be needed to be even more stringently enforced when the mobile version arrives.
- Be aware of how to block or report people if they are required to do so.
- Don’t pass on any personal information to online players.
Some parents and teachers just don’t understand it
- That’s ok, it’s angled towards younger people, not adults.