When I were a lad, mum and dad had the tricky dilemma of whether to let me stay up and watch Minder. Modern parenting is a wider minefield, with violent videogames popular with the yoof. And none is more popular at present than Fortnite Battle Royale. But is Fortnite Battle Royale suitable for kids? Having spent the past few days trying out the game, here’s my verdict.
Should I let my kids play Fortnite Battle Royale?
The first thing to say here is that this is obviously a judgement call. What one parent considers safe might seem vastly unsuitable to another. The age and maturity of the child is clearly another factor. So what I’m going to do here is present the bald facts about the game, garnished with my own thoughts on its suitability, but ultimately it is, of course, your call.
Here are a few things to consider:
Age rating and violence
Fortnite Battle Royale comes with an official PEGI age rating of 12. This seems about right to me. The game is violent, in that the ultimate aim is to kill other players with a wide variety of guns and other weaponry, but it’s not the least bit gruesome. The graphics are very cartoony and there’s no blood and guts or exploding heads when you shoot someone from close range. It’s more Tom & Jerry than Call of Duty.
There are some games, such as Call of Duty, that I’d definitely switch off if my eight-year-old came into the room. I wouldn’t have any concern about letting her peek at Fortnite over my shoulder. The 13-year-old says all the boys in her class are playing the game, which is indicative of its audience.
One area for potential parental concern is the in-game audio chat facility. If you’re playing with teammates in a ‘squad’, for example, then players are allowed to use a headset to communicate with one another. That will almost certainly involve profanity and potentially abuse, especially when you first start playing and you don’t know what you’re doing. Bear in mind, though, that kids often play with their own friends, vastly lowering the risk. The game’s also perfectly playable without audio communication, so your kids shouldn’t be unduly handicapped if you decide that’s a risk too far.
Fortnite Battle Royale is currently free to play. It’s a whopping 17GB download (so be wary of excess charges if there’s any kind of data cap on your broadband connection), and you will need a £40-per-year Xbox Live subscription to play on the Xbox One. Interestingly, you don’t need a PlayStation Plus subscription to play it on the Sony console. It’s free to play on PC too.
There are, however, in-app purchases that your kids might be tempted to buy to ‘level up’ or earn shinier rewards. You are, for example, encouraged to buy the Battle Bundle for 2,800 of the game’s currency, V-Bucks. One thousand V-Bucks cost £8 when bought from Microsoft, so that pack will set you back £24 if you don’t have an existing stash of V-Bucks.
As you can see, there are £50 packs of V-Bucks available, potentially making that ‘free’ game very expensive indeed.
There is no need to buy any of this stuff to enjoy the game, however, so I’d be having a stiff word with the kids about not splashing out on these add-ons. As ever, set up the console so that the kids have to come to you for a password if they want to make in-app purchases to avoid an unexpected crater in your credit card bill.