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In the last few years, battle royale style games likeCall of Duty: Warzone and Fortnite: Battle Royale have become global hits with children and young people. One videogame, however, has taken a different approach to the genre bycreating a diverse and interesting world for gamers to explore and enjoy.
We’ve taken a deeper look at the popular game Apex Legends to help parents and carers keep the gamers in your care safe.
Apex Legends is a free-to-play battle royale style videogame. This online multiplayer game uses a first-person shooter style, meaning the playerexperiences the game ‘through the eyes’ of their chosen character. Each game sees the player work alongside other players to take down opposing teams with weapons and unique character abilities.
This game has a PEGI rating of 16as it “features sustained depictions of violence towards human characters.”It was created by Respawn, a development studio owned by EA, as a spinoff from a previous game Titanfall (made by the creators of the Call of Duty franchise). It is available on PlayStation 4&5, Xbox consoles, Nintendo Switch, and PC (via Origin and Steam accounts). Cross-play is allowed, meaning players can play the same game with others who use different console/device types.
Apex Legends was first released in 2019. Amuch-anticipatedmobile version of the game was released on May 17th, 2022, for Android (rated ‘Teen’) and iOS (rated 12+).
You may be wondering how your child or young person knows about Apex Legends. Even if they have never played it or are restricted from playing games on their devices, there is another avenue that is becoming almost as popular as the platform itself – streamers. There are dozens of Influencers on YouTube and streamers on Twitch who record themselves playing Apex Legends. They rate and review new features, let viewers know tips and tricks, and promote popular players. Remember – even if your child does not play Apex Legends or other games, they could still be accessing in-game content through another person’s videos. It may be worth talking to the young people in your care about which streamers they pay attention to.
Players must have an account on a relevant platform in order to play Apex Legends. Once they have a verified account, they are able to begin playing.
Apex Legends is an online multiplayer game. It placesthree-player squads (Trios) or two-player squads (Duos) intothe ‘Apex Games’ – a gladiator arena setting where players must eliminate other squads in order to survive. Players can join in a squad with their friends or be randomly matched with other players in the waiting lobby.
Every player must choose to play as one of the game’s ‘Legends’, a roster of pre-set characterswith different ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations,and backstories. Each Legend has their own unique skillset of tactical, passive, and ultimate abilities that determine the type of asset the player will be to their team.Players must improve their rank within the game to unlock all 21 characters.
Once teams leave the lobby and the match starts, playersfly into an area andbegin to ‘loot’ (search an area for items that will help game progress, like weapons and armour) while defending their teammates. Battle-royale matchescontain 60 players in teams of three or two depending on the mode. Squads must then move across the game map to avoid the ‘ring’, a system that closes off parts of the map until the final squads are forced into one specific area. The aim of the game is to be the last squad alive – the ‘Apex Champions’– by eliminating all of the other squads.
Squads can communicate with each other using voice chat (via headset), text chat, or the in-game Ping system (this signals the location of enemies, suggests locations to loot, and highlights areas that have already been visited). This system was created by EA to allow players to communicate in a non-verbal way while playing and has been praised for its accessibility for non-verbal and deaf players. Other games, including Fortnite, have since adopted this system.
While Apex Legends soundssimilar to gaming phenomenon Fortnite, it should not be mistaken as the same game. There are several key differences between the two ‘hero shooter’ games that should be noted:
Age appropriateness – Fortnite has a PEGI rating of 12. It uses more animated imagery and is generally thought to be more appropriate for younger players. Apex Legends has a PEGI rating of 16 and includesgraphic portrayals of violence.
Gameplay style – Apex Legends is played in first-person perspective using in-game characters with different playable abilities.Fortnite is played in third-person perspective with avatars that are physically customisable.
Playing mode – While both games require online access to play, Fortnite is playable in both squad play (teaming up with other players) or solo (playing on your own) mode. Apex Legends is only playable in teams of two or three with other players.
Similar to how television shows have new ‘series’ or ‘seasons’, many popular online games have introduced seasons as a way to release new content into the game.Each season in Apex Legends introducesnew storylines, Legends, items, and battle passes to excite fans and entice new players in. Some of these changes are permanent while others will only last for the duration of the season.
A season on Apex Legends lasts approximately three months or twelve weeks. Season 13 was released in May 2022, with Season 14 anticipated to release in August 2022.
Apex Legends features multiple persuasive design features that encourage players to spend more time playing the game. Some of these are:
There are multiple game modes available to playwith different objectives and advantages. The majority of players take part in the ‘Ranked Leagues’ which sorts players into ‘tiers’ (ranging from ‘Rookie’ to ‘Apex Predator’) according to player ability, and allows them to move up ranks gradually.
Apex Legendsusesthe popular‘seasons’method to release new storylines, Legends, and features.A new ‘Battle Pass’ is released every season which gives players daily and weekly tasks to accomplish for rewards. There are two tiers – free and premium (purchased with Apex Coins).
Players receive or lose Ranked Points (RP) based on their performance in matches. Players can use an in-game currency called ‘Apex Coins’ to purchasein-game cosmetics and items (starting at 1000 Apex Coins for £7.99)or other forms of in-gametrading currency.
As there are currently 21 characters with different abilities and playing styles to choose from (22 if playing the mobile version), players are able to feel like they are experiencing a completely different game every time, especiallywhen combined with other players and their character choices.
There is no set time limit to game rounds. Similar to other battle royale online games, once a squad is eliminated they are able to re-group with other players or join a virtual queue for another round. As there is no natural ‘finish line,’ it allows for (and encourages) continuous game play and engagement.
Our online safety experts have discovered that parents and carers generally believe ApexLegends is a fungame for older children to engage in, with a few complaints over the violent premise of the game. However, this game does display a few factors that could lead to potential risks.
Videogames, like Apex Legends, are designed to keep players hooked. By using persuasive design features,players are continually occupied in the world of the game, which could lead to ignoring real-life responsibilities.
Apex Legends is a popular game for adults as well as children and young people. The teaming up nature of the game encourages user interaction and creates an ideal environment for grooming or inappropriate communication.
There have been reported instances of toxicbullying behaviour (including offensive language and hurtful comments), especially towards inexperienced players who are unintentionally paired with more experienced players.
A bad matchcould frustrate and upset a young person playing the game. They may feel others are ‘not trying hard enough’ or that someone else is ‘playing unfairly.’ They may also experience an inward frustration if they aren’t ‘good enough’ at the game. Thiscould impact their offline mood.
There are no parental controls available on Apex Legends. The consoles on which the game is played will have them, but they must be set up separately and may not impact the in-game interactions of your gamer.
Many aspects of the game increase a player’s desire to spend. The in-game store is updated every day and unpurchased items are visibly ‘greyed out’until purchased. Young people may be more susceptible to these schemes.
Top Tips for keeping your gamer safe
Get involved together.Don’t be afraid to join in and try playing Apex Legends to see why the young person in your care enjoys it. You could even ask them for some pointers, or play in a duo together!
Ask helpful questions.By engaging your child with open ended questions, you can find out which friends they play Apex Legends with, learn what they like best about it, and check in with their online safety habits.
Manage screen time.As there is no time limit to Apex Legends, it may be difficult to guess when your gamer will be ‘done’ playing. Use phrases like “After this match” or “In 15/30 minutes” if you need them to wrap it up.
Use safety settings.It may be helpful to switch off ‘blood spray’ and to turn off voice/text chat to safeguard younger children interested in playing the game. Make sure to walk through all safety settings on consoles too!
Talk about privacy.Remind your child that they should never share any personal detailswith someone they don’t know overtext or voice chat. Show them how to block and reportany playerswho behave inappropriately.
Set spending limits.Yourchild might want to spend money on the game, especially if it’s important to them. Suggest spending money they earn by completing household tasks to teach them about the value of money.
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