Don’t worry – here’s Beano’s Fortnite review for parents (but not a patronising one)!
You’ve heard both sides of the Fortnite story. One side has Morning TV Mums revealing how their kids are staying up way past midnight to shoot the living pixels off 99 other addicted Fornite freaks in an epic battle royale they’re destined to repeat in real life.
The other side says Fortnite is just a game with cute graphics and no digital blood – but the other side is currently wearing something called a snapback, drinking his fifth Mountain Dew and is trying to sell you the game in question from behind a shop counter covered in fading Grand Theft Auto stickers.
Quick note time: We cover Fortnite loads on Beano.com, as some of our older readers are the right age for the game (as we’ll discuss). The content we show on beano.com is always appropriate for all ages and smart – we tell kids the facts as well as the fun. Click here to see.
Back to us parents! So Fortnite then: a harmless way into the world of multiplayer shooter games for kids or Call Of Duty Jr? Let’s answer some questions.
It’s totally the biggest game ever, if you listen to any passing child above the age of eight (which we’ll return to later) with around 3.4 million (!) reported users as of Feb 2018. Essentially, the game is a third-person shooter for kids – yes, think the fragrant likes of Call of Duty. However instead of a horror or war setting, here we have a vaguely post-apocalyptic setting but not too realistic with cartoony graphics.
WHY HAS EVERYONE GONE NUTS ABOUT FORTNITE?
Four reasons. First, Fortnite is free. Second, it’s everywhere – PC/Mac, PlayStation, Xbox and smartphone, with cross-platform play allowed enabling a PC player to team up with a Xbox gamer in the same game. Third, the likes of DanDTM have gone full on for it, playing it on YouTube and online social gaming platform Twitch.
Finally and most importantly, while the game came out nearly a year ago, it was only the release of the online Battle Royale multiplayer mode that saw it gain mass popularity with sprogs.
Essentially, it’s ‘survival of the fittest’ as 100 players parachute onto an island where they must fight to stay alive – last man standing wins. Loads of weapons, loads of things to build (hello Minecraft), loads of places to hide… Essentially loads to do and different strategies to try, enabling you to play your way solo or as part of a duo or Squad.
Fortnite is also a ‘sandbox’ game (game speak for a big playable ‘open world’ where you can go anywhere and do pretty much anything) but developer Epic has been sneaky, including the Storm phenomena from the original game that slowly reduces the size of the playable ‘safe zone’ area of land as the clock ticks down, forcing increasingly tense battle until only one remains!
Oh, and it’s a really, really good game – your kids are smart, and don’t play rubbish!
WHAT RATING IS FORTNITE?
The console and PC versions are a PEGI 12+ – that means frequent scenes of mild violence and, as such, is not suitable for persons under 12 years of age. The app versions are 12+ as well, before you give your thumbprint over to a passing iPhone…
Oh, and remember ratings are as serious as they are on films or music. See Part One of our Parents Guide to Video Games here for more on game ratings.
HOW OLD SHOULD MY KID BE TO PLAY FORTNITE?
Well, 12 is the obvious answer but as the parent of any primary school gamer will know, 10 and 11 year olds in Year Six are obsessed with Fortnite. To be honest, the game isn’t ‘that’ violent (we’ve seen far worse) and is probably at the bottom end of the 12+ category but with open chat, in-app purchases and headshots everywhere (see later), we recommend saving this for the start of High School at the very least. Sorry, you’re going to have to have that conversation again…
IS IT VIOLENT?
Well, the zombies of the original Save the World game have been lost for the Battle Royale version but there are LOADS of weapons here (guns, grenades, axes, crossbows etc) and the intent is as you’d expect – kill or be killed, with much talk of ‘headshots’ and other delightful fun.
That said, the graphics are pretty cartoonish, there’s no blood and there are no knives. It’s these facts that have made it the shooter that parents assume it’s okay for tweens to play. Of course, that’s something only you can decide and on-screen violence is only one part of that of that decision.
CAN YOU CHAT ON FORTNITE?
Smart question. Like most online multiplayer games, open chat is available in the PC and console versions (not the mobile). It’s this social aspect that has also made it popular with young gamers looking to troll their school pals but open chat is also one of the reasons some parents are more tentative with letting their kids play unsupervised – essentially, kids can chat with anyone, hear offensive comments and worse. Parents can alter settings to turn off audio chat but remember, kids know about this stuff… See here for all our Parent Guides to Online Safety and how to prepare your kids for this new world.
CAN YOU BUY STUFF IN FORTNITE?
Ah, yes – any game developer worth its share options adds in-app purchases to free game, and Fortnite is no different with its V-Bucks in-game currency you can purchase.
Deluxe and Super Deluxe modes are available to purchase, as well as the option to buy non-essential bonus items (seasonal skins, victory animations etc) and a Premium Battle Pass. Again, see our Parent Guides to Online Safety about in-app purchases – this is something that isn’t going away just by changing Settings and you will need to talk to and trust your child. Terrifying, we know!
HOW LONG SHOULD MY CHILD BE ALLOWED TO PLAY FORTNITE?
That’s your call. We’ve covered this previously, specifically around a mother who let her ten year-old play Fortnite on his Xbox solo in his bedroom between 6-8pm directly before bedtime, playing unsupervised against his mates online because all the other mums were letting their children play. It’s an easy mistake for parents to make (hey, we’re not judging – we’ve given in to loads of demands at the end of the day too) and our Beano recommendations are in Part Two of our Parents Guide to Video Games over at the link.
In short – two hours a day (with a break after every hour), never just before bed, keep an eye on changing moods and try to keep the gaming OUT of the bedroom. Hey, Fortnite is a great game and is playable ‘cross-platform’, meaning you can play on the family PC whilst your nipper plays on the console – so play together!
HMM, SOUNDS A BIT TOO OLD FOR THEM. WHAT YOUNGER ALTERNATIVES ARE THERE TO FORTNITE?
Your child won’t thank you for it but let’s try. First, the world-building nature of Fortnite is bigger than any other third-person shooter (hence its popularity) and is definitely taken from Minecraft, which you can always go back to. Pixel Gun on the App Store does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s a 12+, but is way less weapon-y and kill-y than Fortnite. Block fans who want building with plenty of action should try the countless LEGO superhero games, which also incorporate puzzling into their world-building action-adventures.
Any young gamers demanding zombie armageddon fun can enjoy Plants vs Zombies whilst sandbox fans have plenty of options out there, with Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series always offering a beautiful world to explore while LEGO Worlds has a hilarious and well-crafted universe to goon around in.
A quick shout out for console favourite Ratchet & Clank – a cartoon third-person shooter much like Fornite with great action set pieces and puzzles to solve. As ever, do check the various versions for ratings but these are all well under 12+.
Still stuck – here are seven games our Beano squad recommend as being like Fortnite.
SO FORTNITE IS PRETTY SAFE, RIGHT?
The jury’s still out, I’m afraid. This game is big news, attracting everything from the inevitable V-Buck scams (you’ll see them on YouTube – essentially, leave well alone) to the scramble for professional eSports players to news that the England football squad are preparing for the World Cup by playing it (Dele Alli’s best, apparently).
However tucked in all the column inches is the news that the NSPCC have expressed concern around Fortnite’s chat feature, saying in May 2018 that one in four children have been contacted by someone they don’t know. Yes, parents can turn off voice chat but Fortnite’s text messaging system in the game currently cannot be disabled. Over to Laura Randall, NSPCC’s associate head of child safety online:
“Apps, sites and games such as Fortnite: Battle Royale can be great opportunities for young people to play and engage online. However in light of emerging concerns about the risks children could be exposed to, we are urging parents to be aware of Fortnite’s features. It’s vital parents have regular conversations with their children about the games they are playing, and how to stay safe online.”
It’s good advice for Fortnite – click here for all the NSPCC recommendations – but it’s advice applicable for pretty much any online game out there whether aimed at kids, teens or young adults. Text chat is everywhere and it’s NOT just Fortnite.
So play safe, talk openly to your kids, set some guidelines (and stick to them), follow that 12+ rating and, if it’s right for you and your family, enjoy what is an amazing game!
Still not convinced? Watch this video from beano.com and jump on in!