The low down on Apex Legends

You may have noticed your learners are talking less about Fortnite these days, and more about Apex Legends: the new, slightly edgier battle royale game that has taken the gaming scene by storm.

This free-to-play game captured a whopping 25 million players within the first week of its launch in February this year – beating the record set by Fortnite, which took two weeks to hit 10 million players.  Influential livestreamers, YouTubers and esports competitors are playing and promoting the game, which means if young people aren’t playing it yet, they're likely to be soon.

Apex Legends is a multiplayer video game that's similar in many ways to Fortnite (Click here to read our low down on Fortnite) and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG):

  • It's a first-person shooter game based on the futuristic universe of the Titanfall series.
  • It drops 20 squads of three players onto a map to compete to be the last squad standing.
  • Each player on the squad gets to choose one of eight characters ( "Legends") to play, each with different abilities and skills.

How safe is this game for young people?

Every player is on a team of three, so unless a player has two other friends with the same gaming platform, they'll be playing the game with people they don't know. This carries obvious risks. However, as the ping system allows players to communicate game tactics with their squad buddies (e.g. where enemies or supplies are) without chatting, players can buddy up with strangers in squads without talking to them.

It is possible to play the game safely with the right chat settings and parental guidance. The safest way is for players to be on a squad only with people they know, or to mute voice and text chat.

Played safely, being a member of a squad can help players learn some positive skills, like communicating, collaborating, problem solving and negotiating.

Tips for parents

As with any new game, especially those that rapidly gain popularity overnight, parents should consider how their child is affected: for example, whether they see behaviour changes during or after game play; whether they’re experiencing any inappropriate behaviour.

This first-person shooter game features plenty of realistic war-like violence, with frenetic gun battles being a critical part of the game, where players are ultimately competing against and hunting down other people. There are conflicting perspectives on how game violence might impact children and young people but there is no solid evidence that playing violent video games leads to aggressive behaviour.  This doesn’t mean that games such as these are always appropriate: understanding individual needs and setting out appropriate rules for screen time activities seems to be sensible advice for parents.

Parents should also beware that enthusiastic players will likely head to YouTube or Twitch to watch Apex Legends game play videos, just like they do for Fortnite. This could lead them to videos that contain highly inappropriate and potentially upsetting content.  Parents should be vigilant here and encourage their child to be open about anything they’ve seen or heard that’s upset them. 

How does this game compare with Fortnite?

While Apex Legends isn’t much more violent than Fortnite, its less colourful, less cartoon-like graphics, and grittier, more realistic look make it seem more violent, so less appropriate for younger players.  This is highlighted by PEGI’s older age guidelines: it is rated as suitable for players aged 16 and above (while Fortnite has a PEGI rating of age 12+).

Good to know

  • To play Apex Legends, gamers have to have an active Electronic Arts (EA) account, which restricts to users aged 13 and older. The game is free to download for PC, Xbox and Playstation.

  • It doesn't currently support cross-platform play like Fortnite does, so gamers must have the same console to play together with their friends.

  • While it is not yet available for iOS, Android or Nintendo Switch, EA is planning to make it available for mobile devices and to allow cross play between devices.

  • Where Fortnite allows for solo play, Apex Legends requires players to join a squad of three.

  • Apex Legends' pioneered the ping system which allows players to communicate game tactics with their squad buddies (e.g. where enemies or supplies are) without chatting.

  • Currency is in the form of Apex Coins, which can be traded for upgrades to skins, banners and weapons. These are all cosmetic upgrades that don’t give any player advantage.

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