A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
GARENA FREE FIRE is a free-to-play action shooter in the "battle royale" tradition -- meaning players are dropped into an arena (in this case, a map of a large island) where they fight to the death until only one player is left standing. Here, 50 players are air-dropped from a plane and parachute down to an island, at first with nothing but the clothes on their back. Once they land, players explore the terrain and the buildings scattered around it, looking for weapons, armor, ammo, and health packs. As time ticks down, a designated "safe" area continually shrinks (outside this area, the air is toxic), driving players into closer and closer proximity. Combat goes on until either the timer runs out or one player outlives all the rest.
Is it any good?
As in other battle royale games, players are expected to outlast their fellow players, but there's nothing new to experience in this game -- unless you count being pestered to buy things. Once Garena Free Fire starts, you (and up to three of your friends) take on strangers, doing your best to equip and position yourself to win. Success depends as much on avoidance as it does on confrontation, since going in guns blazing is a sure way to die early. But you also have the timer countdown and shrinking safe area to keep things from getting static, making players more desperate and things more dangerous. (Occasional lag makes things particularly dangerous.) Fortunately, the app's controls are simple and well designed, which makes running, shooting, driving, and item usage easy. It (almost) makes up for the overall ugliness of the game, with its terrain and buildings being covered by low-resolution textures in gray and beige. Still, if you can ignore the lack of style, there's some excitement to be had, and something undeniably satisfying about being the last player standing.
That said, this isn't a game for younger players. Violence isn't presented in any kind of fantasy wrapper here; it realistically shows humans being shot, bleeding, and dying in the context of an arena sport. Moreover, the app really pushes the purchases. From the second you log in, you're hit with a barrage of ads for various in-app items, so the temptation to spend money on vanity items like clothing, hairstyles, pets, characters, and emotes is huge. (The app even goes so far as to call some purchases gameplay "missions.") If that's not enough to set parents on edge, the app's friend system lets strangers interact and message each other directly. As a result, Garena Free Fire isn't worth the download for players committed to other battle royale games. If you're new to this type of game, though, and over the age of 18, and fine with realistic attacks on humans for sport, it's not a bad intro to the genre.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Garena Free Fire affected by the action of hunting other players? Would the impact be lessened if you were fighting aliens or monsters instead of people?
Can you tell when gameplay is being used to push players to purchase items? How easy is it to resist purchasing these extras?
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Pricing structure: Free (Contains optional in-app purchases/monthly membership.)
- Release date: January 26, 2019
- Category: Action Games
- Size: 961.40 MB
- Publisher: GARENA INTERNATIONAL I PRIVATE LIMITED
- Version: 1.27.0
- Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 8.0 or later; Android 4.0.3 and up
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
For kids who love battle royale games
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.