The game is played in rounds, where teams of 3 players battle 57 others to be the last ones standing. It's like Fortnite's battle royale with a shrinking arena that players fly down to. However, it's first-person rather than third-person, so visuals are more realistic and have a higher impact so has a higher PEGI 16 rating. It introduces new strategies and tactics that come from different characters with bespoke abilities: shields, enemy tracking, generate portals, toxic gas, healing drones. There isn't building, but traversing the world is more varied with a parkour climbing feel at times.
The game has quickly become popular after promotion when it launched. Reported numbers have been 25 million players after being out for a week. It's on my radar because many of my son's friends are playing this who used to mainly play Fortnite. If you have Fortnite-children who want to play Apex Legends, you should be aware of the higher age rating coming from it's violent and bloody finisher moves on helpless enemies as well as optional in-app purchases and online voice chat with strangers.Rating
In the UK and Europe, PEGI rate Apex Legends suitable for those 16 and older because it features sustained depictions of violence towards human characters. The VSC expand the rating in their examiner's report which states: "Players can use a range of modern military weapons such as pistols, sniper rifles, automatic guns, frag grenades and knives.
Successful hits from a firearm will degrade the health a character, indicated by some splattering of blood. Once this reaches a critical point, they will become immobile. Finisher cut scenes provide the best examples of realistic looking violence, although powerful looking the effects are not classed as very strong violence.
The ESRB rate Apex Legends as suitable for those 13 and older with its Teen rating. It has descriptors of Blood and Violence. They expand their rating by stating, "frenetic firefights are accompanied by blood-splatter effects, realistic gunfire, and large explosions. Players can also perform various finishing moves on weakened enemies (e.g., stabbing them with a knife; beating opponents down with fists; electrocuting characters). These attacks are often depicted close-up and/or from the victim's perspective.
Different cultural sensitivities compare the violence in Apex Legends and Fortnite differently. In the US it gets the same 13+ rating as Fortnite, while in the UK and Europe it gets 16+. Beyond the player actions that trigger these ratings, Apex Legends goes to darker places that Fortnite. There are the finisher moves that specifically execute defenceless enemies. There are also other special moves that use chemical gas attacks on multiple enemies before finishing them off.In-Game Purchases
Apex Legends is free to download and start playing, meaning that no purchase password is required from parents. As signified in the ratings the game includes purchases that range from £7.99/$9.99 to £79.99/$99.99. While this money will only unlock cosmetic improvements, it is also a way to gain access to all the playable characters in the game more quickly.
Apex Packs that can be earned in the game or purchased with money, offer a "loot box" style chance to win items of varying rarity. This is not classed as gambling by the Gambling Commission in the UK as these items don't have any monetary value outside the game.Online Interactions
Apex Legends is, by its battle royale nature, an online game. It's enjoyable because of the competitive play with 60 other players. This means that there is some pressure to play at a certain time when friends are online. It also means that quitting in the middle of a game is detrimental to your teammates.
Players communicate with each other with headphones and mics. This audio interaction is not covered by PEGI and ESRB ratings, so although the game isn’t rated for profanity, its online nature could expose younger players to offensive language from strangers via the voice or on-screen text chat.
Although you don't hear opponents talking, communicating with teammates is an important, and enjoyable, part of the game but does mean that by default it allows you to talk to strangers. However, Apex Legends offers a new way to communicate with teammates without voice, by triggering a "ping" about items found or enemies shot. This makes it possible to play without talking to strangers.
If your child is playing with strangers in their team, you can mute them in the inventory screen during play. On consoles, players can join a lobby of friends before they play to permanently mute players, not in their group, who they don't know.
It’s also a game where the sound is crucial (hearing footsteps of other players in particular). This means that players will wear headphones and parents can’t always hear what is being said by strangers. Because of this, it’s worth setting up your console or PC to have sound coming from the TV as well as a headset so you can hear what other players are saying to your children from time to time.
Although it is likely to support this in the future, currently you can't play with people on different systems. Therefore it's important to get the game on the system that friends and family will be playing on.Alternative Games
If Apex Legends is rated to old for your child, the following games offer a more age-appropriate alternative:
Minecraft Server Games (PEGI 7+)
Roblox - Phantom Forces (PEGI 7+)
Splatoon 2 (PEGI 7+)
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 (PEGI 12+)
Fortnite Battle Royale (PEGI 12+)
Overwatch (PEGI 12+)