Fortnite is a popular strategy survival game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, and Mac. It combines Minecraft resource collecting and building with team based survival shooting games.
The main action, in the Save The World mode, is shooting and attacking with melee weapons, but players can also build fortifications and work with teammates to defend survivors from waves of enemy monsters. This combines with exploration and resource gathering to play a little like Minecraft.
Fortnite leapt to greater popularity with its Battle Royale mode that can be played for free and pits up to 100 players against each other while a mysterious cloud steadily reduces the size of the war zone, creating knife edge and climatic gun fights.
Although it is just a shooting game players will develop strategic thinking, forward planning and creative approaches to combat. It teaches a deep amount of collaboration and working together and saving team mates.
In the UK the Video Standards council rate Fortnite as PEGI 12 for frequent scenes of mild violence. It is not suitable for persons under 12 years of age.
The VSC expand on the PEGI rating by stating that "Violence consists of you using whatever weapons you can find or make to fend off the monsters of the Storm and save the survivors. Damage is dealt by numbers and life bars and monsters disappear in a purple flash when defeated."
In the US, the ESRB rate Fortnite as Teen, only suitable for those 13 years and older. They expand on their rating by highlighting that "players use guns, swords, and grenades to fight skeleton-like monsters (husks) in ranged and melee-style combat. Players can also defeat enemies by using various traps (e.g., electric, spikes, poisonous gas). Battles are highlighted by frequent gunfire, explosions, and cries of pain."
Not covered by ratings are the interactions with other players online. Although the game isn't rating for profanity, its online nature could expose younger players to offensive language from random strangers via the voice or on-screen text chat.
It's also a game where the sound is crucial (hearing footsteps of other players in particular). This means that players will wear headphones and parents can't always hear what is being said by strangers.
Because of this it's worth setting up your console or PC to have sound coming from the TV as well as headset so you can hear what other players are saying to your children from time to time.
On consoles, players can join a lobby of friends before they play. This enables them to mute other players and just talk to people they know.
In App Purchases
The popular Battle Royale mode is free to play. It's worth noting that you do need Xbox Gold subscription to play online on Xbox One but you do not need the equivalent PlayStation Plus subscription to play on PlayStation.
The game does push players to make additional in-game purchases, though they're not required to play the game. These mainly focus on new clothes and equipment in the online game. These are elements that don't improve a players performance but just make them look better.
Like any game with a fiercely competitive online mode, younger players can find that Fortnite makes them cross or angry when they lose. This is common in games like FIFA and Rocket League, but even more in Fortnite because you only have one life and then you are out the game.
Taking regular breaks can help this, as well as playing with parents nearby, or in shared family rooms. Playing Battle Royale in teams is also a nice way to mitigate the sudden loss, as you can then spectate and cheer on teammates -- offering advice and guidance via the voice chat.
This competitive and online play style also means it is hard to stop a game part way through, as children will complain this will effect their standing in the game. Games can last up to 20 minutes so advance warning of tea time, and a clear responsibility on the child to be ready for this, is a good idea. Still, they will always want, "just one more go" and complain that they "can't stop now".
The main Save the World building and defence game is a great for families to play together as they can strategise and assist each other. The best levels to play for families are Fight the Storm, Ride the Lightning and Deliver the Bomb. They have no time-limits, so you can take your time to explore the level, gather items and build a big strong fun base.
Parents looking for alternatives to Fortnite can consider the following games that offer similar game-making options without masses of online strangers could consider.
- Minecraft (PEGI 7+)
- Roblox (PEGI 7+)
- Stardew Valley (PEGI 7+)
- Lovers In a Dangerous Space Time (PEGI 7+)
- Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 (PEGI 12+)