I have played the game with my kids and without my kids
OK looking at the reviews it is clear that this game totally polarizes parents.
I firmly believe that there is no such thing as advice that applies equally to everyone. If you are concerned / worried about your kids playing this game then don't let them have it. But don't complain when other parents have lots of fun playing the game with their children.
Likewise if your kids have the game, don't let them pressure other children into getting it too. That's a bit mean, and you should educate your kids to this fact.
Personally, whenever I take a stand on an issue with my kids (aged 7&8), I make sure I am taking a stand from an informed position. So before I allowed them to play this game I downloaded the game myself (it's free) and played it for maybe 12 hours to see what it was really about and to see if there was anything 'hidden' in the game, or if there was any exposure to uncontrolled user generated content that might be concerning.
I now have the following opinion...
Like my kids many younger children play Minecraft, in Minecraft Creative mode, or Survivor mode it goes dark every 10 minutes and lots of monsters will spawn into the game and they will charge you and attack you. The first few times this happens this can be very stressful for young children. The only way to survive through the night is by killing lots of monsters with a sword or a bow and arrow.
In Skylanders you have to kill lots of other creatures, that is all the game is about, as you progress you are rewarded with stronger and stronger weapons which are more effective at killing things.
Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Zelda, Pokemon these are all games centred around killing things. When you kill these things they fade and vanish. That is pretty much the basis of all video games, even Pac-Man.
Minecraft (a game most parents actually encourage their kids to play) also has an online PVP battle mode, in this mode the players all join an online server and they run around in a small world trying to kill each other. They can open chests and find potions that will make them stronger when they drink it, they can also find armor and a variety of weapons.
Minecraft Battle mode is a fight to the death, and the last player standing is the declared the winner.
Minecraft has an official age rating of 7+
Most little kids with access to an iPad will have experience playing Minecraft, most of them will have been attacked by monsters at nightfall, most will have killed those monsters and many will have battled other players in online PVP, where the last man standing is the winner.
Fortnite is almost exactly the same game format as Minecraft Battle Mode. It is almost an identical concept. In Fortnite you also have to chop trees and get resources to build bases, bridges and stairs. The two games just look different, but on paper they are the same.
In Minecraft when a player is killed they fall down to the ground and just vanish, in Fortnite it is the same. There is no blood, no injuries, and no dead bodies. In Minecraft and in Fortnite when players are eliminated from the game they go back to the home screen and can try again.
BUT Fortnite does include realistic looking guns instead of a pixelated sword or a pixelated bow. The avatars in Fortnite are cartoonish but the weapons look very realistic.
The weapons in Fortnite include; revolvers, pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, rocket launchers, a minigun, a crossbow and grenades. It is an education on firearms, I actually learnt something about why some guns are different to other guns!
I now know in which situations a shotgun is more advantageous than an assault rifle. Which I recognize is a weird thing to have learnt.
The game Fortnite is very easy to play, but very difficult to win. The players who win are very skilled at the game. Any children under the age of 13 (but probably 16) who are playing this game are very likely to lose 500 games in a row. The game teaches humility in defeat, because when 99 out of 100 players lose you will be losing a lot. A lot. It is the same 5 players who finish in the top 5 every time.
For most children the game is best when kids play with their real life friends, they can play in pairs or squads of 4. They have to communicate a lot and work together a lot otherwise they will just lose even faster (they will never actually win a game).
Watching my kids play the game with their friends via headsets and it is very encouraging to see them working together and helping each other out and generally learning real time teamwork skills and communication skills. They are forced to look out for one another and think and move as a team.
I think this game is the natural progression from Minecraft.
Would I be happier if they were playing and learning together whilst doing something more constructive like coding smartphone apps?
Of course! but one step at a time.
If you can't be bothered to supervise your kids when they start playing games like this, and you don't care about how they use games, and you are just looking for a game to dump them in front of, and burn their time and keep them from bothering you, because you aren't interested in taking an interest in things they find interesting then you should go with something less challenging. Stick with Minecraft and Skylanders until they are mature enough to figure it out all by themselves.
If you are active parent and you enjoy playing with your kids then absolutely this game is suitable for all ages and kids as young as 7/8 will enjoy playing the game whilst you help and encourage them along the way. There is zero mature content in the game. Even the other users in the chat are cordial and friendly, when I played with strangers nobody was ever mean or rude to me. The only time you risk encountering any swearing over the voice chat if you log in after 11pm on a Friday night.
I was very surprised at how polite the other players spoke to one another over the chat, it made me feel very old.