A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while the original strategy-focused, single-player version of Fortnite (also known as Save the World) is a survival action game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, and Mac, it's the wildly popular last-player-standing mode known as Fortnite: Battle Royale that's taken off and become a huge hit. (There's also a mobile version of the popular battle royale mode that lets portable players engage with and play against console and PC gamers.) Fortnite: Battle Royale pits up to 100 players against each other in solo, duo, or up to four-player squads to see who can survive the longest against each other in an ever-shrinking map. The game has a cartoonish style, and the violence, while persistent, isn't bloody or particularly gory, even though you're using melee weapons and firearms to eliminate opponents. The game does push players to make additional in-game purchases to acquire many cosmetic items, objects, and celebratory animations, though they're not required to play. While there isn't any profanity in the game dialogue, its online nature could expose younger players to iffy language from random strangers in voice or on-screen text chat. In Save the World, gamers use strategic thinking, creativity, and forward planning to build fortifications while working with teammates to defend survivors and objectives from waves of creepy, zombie-like monsters. If you want to know more about this phenomenon, be sure to check out our Parents' Ultimate Guide to Fortnite.
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What's it about?
FORTNITE is currently one of the most popular video games in the world, but the majority of most players' attention isn't on the original strategy-focused, single-player campaign (also known as Save the World), but rather the stand-alone last-player-standing mode known as Battle Royale. Here, gamers take on up to 100 other players by themselves, with a partner, or as part of a four-player squad to see who can survive the longest against opponents on an ever-shrinking map. During matches, players will gather materials and build structures to defend themselves against incoming fire, using firearms, melee weapons, and explosives to defeat enemies. Players can also practice building structures, test their aim with the various guns in the game, and take on three other friends in Playground mode. The Save the World version of Fortnite looks very similar visually to Battle Royale but is always played solo, and players fight zombie-like monsters called Husks. Both versions of the game take place after "The Storm," an apocalyptic event in which 98 percent of the world's population simply vanished. But only Save the World has the Husks, and in that version, after stumbling onto and taking command of an abandoned high-tech shelter facility, it's up to you to take charge of a group of brave heroes as they fight back. Under your guidance, these heroes will gather precious resources, rescue survivors, and build a refuge from the lumbering armies of the undead. Along the way, you might just discover the source of The Storm and save all humanity in the process.
Is it any good?
The popularity of this sandbox shooter's multiplayer mode has eclipsed the single-player, strategy-focused story, but no matter which you play, it's fast-paced and will keep you coming back for more. Fortnite: Battle Royale became perhaps the most popular game in the world by early 2018; its cartoonish take on last-player-standing gameplay has struck a chord with both casual and hard-core players. The gameplay isn't bloody or gory, but it demands that gamers be willing to go through many play sessions to improve their strategy and get better at surviving on the ever-shrinking battlefield. Fortunately, newcomers have a chance to improve their skills via Playground mode, which lets players get comfortable with firing guns as well as test out their strategies for building structures. The Playground mode is limited to four players and has an hour time limit for play for each session to get players motivated to play Battle Royale, but it's also a good way for parents to observe what the fuss is all about in a safer, less hectic space. Yes, there are some moments when players will defeat others and celebrate their misfortune, but the overall tone of a match is typically light and friendly, which is one of the reasons people are so eager to play "just one more." It's also notable that while there's a heavy push for purchasing items and animations, they're not necessary to fully enjoy the multiplayer experience.
As for the single-player Save the World campaign, running around the map, collecting resources, and building structures on the fly before whipping out an assault rifle to take out a group of zombies seems like it would be a complex process, but it actually feels like second nature. On top of that, the game's presentation strikes a perfect balance of fun and creepy, with a lighthearted humor that's as much fun to watch as it is to play. The only real problem comes during those moments between the action, when you have to deal with maintaining your characters, inventory, and so on. There's nothing about this part that feels intuitive, and the game does a poor job explaining it. Eventually, through trial and error, you can fumble your way around until you learn the ins and outs, but it's still a frustrating headache. Fortunately, that's just one snag, and it doesn't affect the core gameplay too much. Before long, you'll be back in the thick of things, building, shooting, and having a blast with friends, fighting The Storm and saving the world with a smile.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Fortnite: Battle Royale focuses on eliminating players to be the last one standing, but does the violence have less impact because there's no blood or gore?
What are some good ways to prepare for disasters, and how important is it to have an emergency plan in place?
What are some positive ways to foster sportsmanship and teamwork in games? What are some ways to deal with toxic players in an online environment? Does Fortnite: Battle Royale's focus on combat limit the focus on teamwork within the game?
- Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Epic Games
- Release date: July 18, 2017
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Violence
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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.