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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while the original strategy-focused version of Fortnite (also known as Save the World) is a survival action game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, 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 (which now includes the personalized-adventure-creation Creative mode as well) 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, the game's 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 Battle Royale mode has also added a Creative editor to allow players to create their own adventures, and recently, has added Live Events, where players can gather together and watch concerts, movie screenings, or other events. (The content within the these live events will vary based on what's being shown, so players and parents will need to check to make sure that content is appropriate.) 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 eclipsed the 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 struck a chord with both casual and hardcore 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. There are some moments when players will defeat others and celebrate their misfortune, but the overall tone of matches is typically light and friendly, which is one of the reasons people are so eager to play "just one more." While there's a heavy push to buy items and animations, they're not necessary to enjoy the multiplayer experience. Battle Royale takes place in themed, weeks-long "seasons" that adds content like Halloween costumes or Christmas emotes, as well as fundamental changes to the overall experience. Just when you think the developers have tossed in everything they could, including the kitchen sink, a new season comes along and throws in a whole new kitchen. That makes Fortnite is a constantly growing and evolving experience, frequently with new areas to the game map, vehicles, and most recently, cannons. It's also borrowed new features from competitors as well; Fortnite borrowed the "ping" system from Apex Legends to indicate things that squadmates would want to pay attention to, like building materials or ammunition. In late 2018, the game added yet another new mode: Fortnite Creative, an editor that gives players access to intuitive, easy-to-use in-game tools to create their own personalized adventures. Players can build to their heart's content or collaborate with friends and let their collective imaginations run wild. Once their masterpiece is done, players can even share their works with the rest of the community in the game's showcase area, dubbed "The Block." Each season, The Block will shine the spotlight on select player-generated content, adding a constantly changing element to play while encouraging fans to create something new and exciting, strengthening the game's sense of community and camaraderie in the process.
Fortnite's original Save the World mode is a deeper standalone option, with a heavy focus on teamwork instead of competition. Players take on the Swarm -- the result of The Storm bringing the dead back to life -- trying to save innocent survivors and collect resources to develop a headquarters that's a safe haven. Save the World missions can be played solo or by joining forces with other players. While running around the map, collecting resources, building structures, and attacking groups of zombies sounds complicated, it actually feels like second nature. On top of that, Save the World's campaign story 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 main problem comes between the action, when you have to maintain your characters, inventory, and so on. It's not intuitive, and it's poorly explained. Eventually, you'll fumble your way through the tactics here, but it's still a frustrating headache. Fortunately, it's a snag that doesn't affect play much, and you'll be back building, shooting, 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 sporting conduct 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
- Last updated: October 21, 2020
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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.