Apex Legends is a battle-royale game similar to Fortnite. It is for a slightly older audience, and has grittier effects.
So what does the game involve, and how suitable is it for children? Here's everything you need to know.
What is Apex Legends?
The game is set in the Titanfall universe — somewhere that will be familiar to players from developers Respawn’s other game franchises.
Players are dropped from an airship in squads of three into Kings Canyon, the world of Apex Legends. There they have to scavenge resources and eliminate the other 19 squads to win.
Players control their characters in the first-person with a focus on strategy. You can choose to play as one of eight characters, each with its own unique skill set, which makes the gameplay more nuanced and exciting.
What do parents need to be aware of?
Apex Legends has the cartoonish charm the genre is known for, but the game is more serious in tone than its competitors. At first glance, it seems pretty similar to Fortnite (and in many ways it is) but unlike Fortnite, it has a PEGI 16 rating.
There’s a lot more emphasis on gunplay (rather than Fortnite’s building mechanic) and when a player is shot, a small cloud of blood surrounds them. The violence is quite superficial, but be aware that it may not be suitable for all children.
To play well requires good communication between players and in-game chat can create some truly memorable gaming moments. Players can hook up their headset and communicate with teammates via voice chat, a great feature for a fast-paced game.
However, remember that the real-time voice chat is never moderated and children playing could be exposed to abusive language or behaviour.
It’s not uncommon in online games to be teamed up with someone who perhaps takes the game more seriously. This could result in negativity or bullying from other players if you don't perform quite as well as the rest of your team.
Players can be muted at any time from the inventory screen but that can still leave children feeling uncomfortable or insecure about their abilities.
One way to avoid this is to disable voice chat — which can be done from the system settings of the console — and make use of the game’s ingenious ‘ping’ system instead. The ‘ping’ system is an alternate form of communication which involves the player giving commands through button-clicking. For example, players give commands like ‘go here’ or ‘pick up this ammo’ by pressing buttons on their controller.
Apex Legends is a free-to-play game that makes money from microtransactions. Players can buy Apex Coins with real-world money, which can then be used to buy Apex Packs. These are loot boxes containing skins, weapons and banners players use to customise their in-game avatars. Some items can cost up to £8 each.
It's important to be mindful that loot boxes can promote gambling behaviours in children and lead them to feel pressured into spending. Some of the skins available in Apex Legends have even been used to gamble on external, unregulated sites.
You can adjust the parental controls on whatever devices you have to ensure that children can't freely buy things in-game. Make sure that you don't have any card details saved on your devices.
If you experience something problematic whilst playing Apex Legends, it’s important to know how to report the abuse and block the player. The game’s publisher Electronic Arts (EA) has instructions on how to report harassment on its website.
On PlayStation 4 and Xbox One you have to go through the consoles’ own reporting mechanisms, while on PC you go through EA’s reporting portal. Make sure to note down the username of the abusive player and include screenshots if you can. The developers take cheating very seriously and banned around 16,000 players for cheating in the first two weeks. If you want to report someone for cheating you can do that here.
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