Everything You Need to Know About "Apex Legends"

Did your kids make the sudden switch from "Fortnite" to this new battle royale romp? Here's everything you need to know about the popular video game.
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Just when you were starting to figure out Fortnite, a slightly edgier battle royale game has taken the gaming scene by storm. Apex Legends, a free-to-play, team-based shooter from the creators of the popular Titanfall series captured a whopping 25 million players within a week of its launch in February 2019 -- an adoption rate that blew Fortnite out of the water (partly because it stole many of Fortnite's players). Apex Legends' gameplay will be familiar to fans of fight-to-the-finish-style games such as Fortnite, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), and others. But it ups the ante with a brand-new "ping" system for speedy in-game communication and unique "Legend abilities" that give each character an edge. Influential livestreamers, YouTubers, and esports competitors are playing and promoting the game, which means if your tween or teen isn't playing it yet, they'll be asking for it soon.

So is Apex Legends too violent? Is it even more addicting than Fortnite? What's the story behind those pings? Read Common Sense Media's full review to learn more about how it works. Then find answers below to parents' most frequently asked questions about the game and how to use it safely.

What is Apex Legends?

Apex Legends is a multiplayer battle royale video game that's similar in many ways to Fortnite. It's a first-person shooter based on the sci-fi frontier world of the Titanfall series, although it doesn't continue those stories. Instead, it drops 20 squads of three players onto a map to compete to be the last team standing. Each player on a squad gets to choose one of eight characters (called "Legends") to play, each with a different set of skills and abilities. As with other team-based multiplayer games, like Overwatch, much of the game's strategy comes from selecting the right combo of characters for your squad.

What age should you be to play Apex Legends?

To play Apex Legends, you have to have an active Electronic Arts account, which EA restricts to users 13 and older. But Common Sense Media recommends Apex Legends for teens 14 and up, due to the online chat and frantic violence.

How much does Apex Legends cost?

The game is free to download for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation gamers with an EA account and an internet connection. However, there are many opportunities for in-game spending. Real money can be used to buy Apex Coins, the main form of in-game currency. Coins can then be used to unlock cosmetic upgrades for players' characters, banners, and weapons. However, some of these upgrades can also be unlocked using Legend Tokens and Crafting Materials, which you can earn through regular gameplay.

How does chat work in Apex Legends?

The game allows for both voice chat and text chat between the three players on a squad. You can also turn on accessible chat features that convert speech to text or text to speech (a welcome feature for those with different abilities). However, it's also possible to mute chat entirely and use the game's innovative "ping" system to communicate and strategize with teammates. Pings require only the tap of a button and appear as text in the top right corner of the screen, alerting players to weapons, ammo, movement, and enemies. They're also combined with contextual, in-character dialogue from a player's Legend (another cool feature driving the game's popularity).

Can my kid play and chat with strangers on Apex Legends?

In Apex Legends, every player is on a team of three, so unless your kid has two other friends with the same gaming platform, they'll be playing the game with people they don't know. This carries the risk that they'll be exposed to graphic language or online creeps. On the other hand, if your kids know safe online behavior, being a member of a team can help them learn some positive skills, like communicating, collaborating, and negotiating.

Is Apex Legends safe for kids?

Although Common Sense Media doesn't recommend Apex Legends for kids under 14, it's possible to play the game safely with the right chat settings and parental guidance. The safest way to play is to be on a squad only with people you know or to mute voice and text chat. With any new game -- especially those that get ultra-popular overnight -- it's wise to keep an eye on how the game affects your kid. Do you notice behavior changes when kids are playing, or afterward? Are kids able to manage their time? Have they run into any inappropriate behavior?

How violent is Apex Legends?

This first-person shooter doesn't reach the same levels of explosive gore you find in the Titanfall or Call of Duty series, but it's bloody and features plenty of militaristic violence. Fast and frantic gun battles are a critical part of the game, and players are competing against and hunting down other people. Media violence affects different kids in different ways, and overexposure can be desensitizing. Read up on how game violence might impact kids so you know what to look for if your kid plays Apex Legends or any other game with violence.

How does Apex Legends compare to Fortnite?

Apex Legends has a grittier look and feel compared to Fortnite's cartoony, bloodless style. Without any silly emotes or Fortnite's system of structure-building, Apex Legends appeals to slightly more mature players, but its emphasis on teamwork sets it apart from other battle royale games. Where Fortnite allows for solo play, Apex Legends requires people to join a squad of three. Players can resurrect eliminated teammates in a gameplay feature that adds a challenging element (and lessens the sting if your character dies early in the game). Apex Legends' ping system also improves on Fortnite's capability to collaborate with others without a headset or microphone, and makes it easier to enjoy the team-based elements without chatting. However, it currently doesn't support cross-platform play like Fortnite does, so gamers must have the same console to play together with their friends. 

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