What is Roblox?
A pretty much limitless online world, Roblox is a free-to-play game that lets you play, create and share your own levels and game modes with other Roblox players, in a cartoon-like game world made of Lego-style bricks. Whether it's a tricky obstacle course, a dress up contest, or a blocky take on a football game, players can use the free PC creation tool to create their own game modes and worlds, then publish them for other Roblox users to play.
With so many user-created levels to try out, Roblox offers pretty much endless possibilities. While the premium currency, Robux, lets you exchange real-world money for character upgrades, new weapons and other extras, the base game - and all the user-created levels contained inside - remain free.
How do you play Roblox?
Roblox provides a list of the most popular user generated games by default, which you can also choose to search, or filter to find the game that's right for you. However, with so much of the game being so heavily customisable, how you play depends a lot on the type of game you've chosen to play. For example, an obstacle course may see you controlling your Roblox character from a third person perspective, leaping over obstacles, jumping from platform to platform and dodging traps, while the popular 'Slender Man' games switch to a first person view and see you running from the scary Slender Man, where being spotted by him results in a game over. Other games are more of a simulation of real-world activities, whether you're chopping down trees as a lumberjack, trying your hand at some farm work, scuba diving for lost treasure, or working as a pizza delivery boy, all with their own unique spin on the basic Roblox formula. Another popular mode is Fashion Frenzy, which tasks you with creating a Roblox outfit to fit a particular theme in three minutes, clicking your way around a boutique/salon to try on different hairstyles, clothes and faces in order to make the perfect outfit.
As an online only game, it's worth bearing in mind that you'll almost always find yourself playing alongside other players in Roblox, as the game groups you together with other players who are playing the same game.
How easy is Roblox to pick up and play?
As with the sections above, this largely depends on the specific game modes you're playing, as some can be a lot trickier than others. For example, many of the 'simulator' games, such as the aforementioned lumberjack, farming and scuba diving games, are a bit more relaxed, leaving you largely to your own devices as you try to reach a series of goals - like chopping down a number of trees. Some are much more competitive and fast-paced, like Slender Man, where the aim is to run around a building, collecting pieces of paper whilst dodging the deadly Slender Man, who'll knock you out of the game if he gets just one look at you.
Generally speaking, the controls for Roblox are pretty simplistic - on PC, by default, you move up, down, left and right with the WSAD keys, while you can look around with your mouse and click to use items, or interact with the scenery. It's a fairly standard control scheme that's used in many a PC game, so it should be fairly easy to get into - although different game modes can alter things slightly. Roblox also doesn't tend to be voiced, so most of the instructions, conversations and in-game information are delivered entirely through text, meaning a decent reading ability is advised - although again, depending on the specific game you've chosen to play, some may be more straightforward to understand than others.
In its most basic form, Roblox is a pretty child-friendly title, with no bad language, no sexual content and no gore. Violence is limited to fairly slapstick, cartoon interactions, where players attack each other with fists, swords and guns until one of them falls over and breaks apart into their block-like components, with no blood or visible injuries shown.
However, as Roblox is a game that's so easily customisable, it's also impossible to rate. As it's essentially a portal that lets you access hundreds of thousands of user-created games, there's absolutely no way of knowing what you might end up running into, with several games we played featuring explicit mature content.
While the Roblox rules do say that there should be no swearing or pornographical content, the game does rely on players reporting such things in order for them to be taken down, meaning there's always a delay between the games going live, and their eventual takedown. Some of the mature content we've come across takes in everything from full-frontal nudity with as-realistic-as-Roblox-can-manage breasts and genitalia (with some even featuring character models having simulated sex out in the open), and bloody violence or gore. Some games, such as 'Hotline Roblox' or the various 'Slender Man' games feature pixelated blood splatters and severed limbs. There's also a number of games that are re-makes of well-known horror films and/or games (Five Nights at Freddies, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Saw to name but a handful) which are both gory, and contain potentially nightmarish scenes for youngsters.
Note, the gallery below contains explicit images:
Luckily, there are a few ways of making Roblox safer for children. When signing up for an account, you'll need to enter your birthday, with accounts for children under 13 containing several restrictions. While they can still interact with other players, child accounts can only interact with players that are also under 13 (or at least, those who've told the game they're under 13), with the game offering a stricter filter on any messages, posts or chat functionality to try and keep children safer online. Most importantly, child accounts are only able to access a list of games that have been curated and moderated by the Roblox team, to ensure everything they're playing is family friendly. However, once they pass 13, they'll automatically graduate to an adult account, meaning the restrictions no longer apply, and you can see everything, regardless of how inappropriate it may be.
With regards to interactions with strangers, even with the various parental controls enabled, players can still receive and accept friends requests, although those under 13 can only chat with those who are also under 13 and on their friends list. However, as those under 13 can still accept friends requests freely, this isn't a hard limit - all you need to do is accept a friend request from a stranger to be able to chat. However, parents can disable chat altogether by accessing the Privacy tab in the Account Settings page.
Roblox does ### out common swear words, but it's not uncommon for players to circumvent the bad language filter by being a bit more creative (like spelling them out letter by letter, F, U, C, K each on their own line). User created levels can also have custom audio files that play during the game, which can include bad language too, and other unsavoury topics.