In February 2019 Apex Legends was launched and within a week had captured 25 million players with many of them deserting Fortnite to engage in this latest Battle Royale game. It is a first-person shooter game, which means that the players see events in the game through the eyes of their character which reveals visuals that are more realistic.
Apex Legends is free to download on Xbox One, PS4 and PC from the Apex Legends website or from the Xbox, Origin or PS4 store.
Players join squads of 3 players, each with a character they have selected from 8 ‘Legends’ with varying sets of fighting skills and abilities. These are used to compete in the ‘last squad standing’ competition between up to 20 squads who have been ‘dropped’ onto a map of an island.
Squads search for ammo, explosives and supplies to destroy other squads which leads to elements of the game depicting violent acts such as stabbing, beating or electrocuting against weaker players. On a positive note, in order to survive they also develop communication, collaboration and negotiation skills.
If a player wants to play with their friends they all need to be on the same platform such as PS4 otherwise they will be paired with random players which carries some risks such as cyberbullying and inappropriate language.
To play Apex Legends, you have to have an active Electronic Arts account, which EA restricts to users 13 and older. While it has been rated at MA 15+ in Australia with a ‘strong impact of violence’, Common Sense Media recommends 14+ due to online voice and text chat features and violence. The game also uses a ‘ping’ system for the squad to communicate and strategise which ‘appear as text in the top right corner of the screen, alerting players to weapons, ammo, movement, and enemies.’ Common Sense Media recommends that to ensure the game is played safely encourage players to only play with people they know and mute the chat features.
Steps to assess whether a video game is appropriate for your child or teen
- Check the age recommendation for the video game. If the age recommended is higher than your child’s actual age, it may not be suitable.
- Check the content. The advisory information should include a description of the game content. Check whether the game contains strong language, violence or sexual references. Will you be comfortable exposing your child to this material?
- Check the Australian Government’s Classification Database.
- Read reviews to find out what other parents, experts and players are saying about the game. Reviews often contain summaries of storylines and game content including warnings about inappropriate material.
Some areas for families to discuss could include:
- How to choose a username that does not reveal their real name, location, gender, age or any personal information that makes them identifiable.
- Why it’s important to avoid sending private information to other players online.
- When to avoid text or voice chat and when it might be okay.
- Why it’s critical not to interact with players outside the game (for example, on social media) and why they shouldn’t meet other players in person.
- The importance of setting a strong password and changing them regularly.