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Garena Free Fire

App review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Garena Free Fire App Poster Image
Bland but bloody battle royale heavily pushes purchases.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

New players can be picked off easily, but big empty maps mean strategies for survival are easily learned. 

Violence

Though not the goriest, there's blood when people are shot, and the point of the game is to run around killing human beings for sport. 

Sex

Some revealing outfits for female characters. Players could be exposed to inappropriate conversations via text and voice chat. 

Language

Some potty humor and poop jokes. If players use text or voice chat, they could be exposed to bad language. 

Consumerism

The game begins with multiple prompts to purchase; players are given "missions" to buy things, and are constantly encouraged to buy in-app currency to spend on items and gambling mini-games. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

No drinking, drugs, or smoking in the app, but players using text or voice chat could be exposed to conversations containing such subjects. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Garena Free Fire is a freemium multiplayer survival shooter for iOS and Android devices. The point of the game is to kill other players until you're the last man or woman standing. There's no story or sci/fi fantasy wrapper around gameplay -- you simply shoot other humans in a real world setting and collect rewards for doing so. Violence is realistic, so wounded players bleed and fall down dead when shot. Some female characters are sexualized (as a sexy nurse, sexy schoolgirl, etc.) and wear revealing outfits. Players communicate via text and voice chat, and can create friends lists and join or create guilds. Consumerism here is high; upon logging in, multiple screens appear urging players to buy things, and the app's menus constantly encourage players to buy virtual currency to spend on costumes, weapons, pets, and additional characters. Players are given “missions” to buy from the in-app shop, and players are encouraged to spend currency on gambling mini-games. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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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's left standing. Here, fifty players are air-dropped from a plane and parachute down to an island at first with nothing but the clothes on their backs. 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?

Like other battle royale games, players are expected to outlast your 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 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 the genre though, 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's being used to push players to purchase items? How easy is it to resist purchasing these extras?

App details

For kids who love battle royale

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