PUBG season 4 updates Erangel and lets you heal while moving

The updated and reworked version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ first map, Erangel is almost here, along with the game’s fourth season. The full season 4 update is bringing some of the biggest changes the game has ever seen including the updated map, weapon and vehicle rebalancing, and a massive change to healing items. PUBG’s season 4 patch is currently available on the game’s test server and is set to go live on PC July 24. Season 4 will launch on consoles late this summer.

Season 4’s biggest change will be the new version of Erangel. Over the last several months PUBG Corp. has updated the map’s look as well as the layout of many of its locations. Popular spots like Mylta Power, Prison, Mansion, and Military Base have all gotten small overhauls, with newly updated buildings and terrain. There are also smaller changes all over the map. Hills have been leveled into open plains or moved to other areas, rocks and trees are in different locations, and dozens of small buildings have popped up all around the island.

The patch will also overhaul the game’s weapon balance. While there are plenty of specifics in the patch notes, the major takeaway is that there will be slightly less damage from weapons like the M4 and M16, and some slight buffs to shotguns and sub-machine guns. Even bigger than the weapon changes, though, is the change to healing items. The patch will also let players heal while walking, although the action will be canceled if they sprint or jump.

You can see all of the patch’s balance changes in the notes below, or you can view PUBG Corps.’ full patch notes for a look for a look at everything that’s changing in season 4.

PUBG Patch 4.1 notes

Weapon and Item balance changes


  • Increased base damage of Kar98k from 75 to 79.
  • Increased per pellet base damage of S12K from 22 to 24.
  • Increased per pellet base damage of Sawed-off from 20 to 22.
  • Increased per pellet base damage of S686, S1897 from 24 to 26.
  • Increased effective damage over distance for all SMGs.
  • Slightly increased damage multipliers for SMGs:

Torso 1.05 (previously 1.0), Limb 1.3 (previously 1.25).

  • Increased damage multipliers for Crossbow:

Torso 1.4 (previously 1.0), Limb 1.2 (previously 0.9).

  • ADS zoom for default crossbow sight increased by 3%.
  • Laser sight attachment dispersion multiplier for pistols was decreased from 0.5 to 0.3 (non-ads shooting with pistols will now be 70% more accurate when laser is attached).


  • Reduced base damage of M24 from 79 to 75.
  • Reduced base damage of Beryl M762 from 46 to 45.
  • Reduced base damage of AKM and Groza from 49 to 47.
  • Reduced base damage of M416, G36, QBZ, SCAR-L and AUG from 43 to 41.
  • Reduced maximum bullet travel distance of all shotguns from 1000 m to 150 m.


  • Duckbill attachment now distributes bullets vertically instead of horizontally.
  • Crossbow will now have a visible tracer following the trajectory of the bolt for easier aiming.
  • Added top rail to Uzi to allow Red Dot and Holographic Sights attachments.

Vehicle balance changes


  • Improved handling of RWD vehicles (Buggy, Mirado, Rony, Motorbike, Snowbike, Snowmobile, Scooter, Tukshai).
  • Regular and three-seater motorbikes stabilization improved.
  • Increased maximum speed of Scooter from 90 to 105 kph.
  • Greatly improved handling of Buggy and Increased Buggy’s wheels durability by 50%.
  • Increased max speed of Buggy from 92/115 to 100/125 kph (no boost/boost).
  • Increased HP of UAZ from 900 to 1200.
  • Increased HP of Tukshai from 500 to 1000 as well as increased max speed of Tukshai from 70 to 85.


  • Decreased HP of Mirado from 1000 to 900.
  • All motorbikes will now consume roughly 50% more fuel than before.
  • Decreased acceleration and boost multiplier rate for Dacia. Maximum speed will stay the same.
  • Dacia and Mirado vehicles speed will now be reduced by around 15% when driving on surfaces like sand, mud, grass, dirt.
  • When driving on rocky surface with any vehicle, friction will be decreased by 10% making them more difficult to control.
  • Introduced BRDM-2 specific vehicle damage modifiers per game mode.

Increased damage taken in Solo mode by 80%.

Increased damage taken in Duo mode by 40%.


  • Implemented new Buggy and Mirado sounds.
  • Visual effect while using boost has been removed and replaced with high RPM engine sounds.
  • Improved aiming while inside vehicles to be more steady.
  • Improved the FPP camera view inside most vehicles.

New Features

  • Added auto-acceleration to vehicles (identical to auto-run feature).
  • Auto-Acceleration can be activated with ‘=’ key just like auto-run.
  • Added “locking” mechanism to BRDM-2.
  • Only teammates will be able to enter BRDM-2.
  • When all teammates exit the BRDM-2, it will unlock, allowing any player to enter.
  • Added Car Audio feature to play preset music while inside a car.
  • Only the driver can control this feature.
  • Car audio will stay turned on even after players exit the vehicle.
  • Turning the audio On/Off while inside a vehicle will play random music every time.
  • Use F5 key to play or stop the music, Use F6 to change music. The mouse wheel can be used to control music volume.
  • Music will stop playing automatically after a full song.
  • Music can be stopped by destroying or flooding the vehicle.

Healing and Boost Improvements

  • Healing and boost items can now be used while moving.

You’ll be limited to walking speed only.

Press the use or run/jump keys to cancel healing/boosting.

  • Bandages will now be used continuously until the player fully heals to the maximum of 75% health, or runs out of bandages, without the need to manually use bandages multiple times.

Press the use or run/jump keys to cancel healing.

  • First Aid Kits can no longer heal additional damage you receive after the healing starts.

Previously, if damage was taken after the 2-second healing period had started, any additional damage received would be healed if the total healing amount was still 75% or less.

Erangel Blue Zone balance changes

We’re making changes to the Blue Zone on Erangel thanks to player feedback and changes in gameplay since the most recent Erangel rebalance. The experimental Blue Zone was trialed on the test server during the Erangel Visual Update, and based on player feedback we have applied a few more adjustments.

  • The size of the safe zone in early phases has been reduced.
  • Blue Zone waiting time in early and mid-game phases has been reduced.
  • Movement speed of the Blue Zone during some mid and late phases has been decreased.
  • Blue Zone waiting time for the final phase has been reduced.


Sony is selling real-life PlayStation loot crates at Comic-Con booth

This weekend at Comic-Con, PlayStation is selling real-life loot boxes. Actual, physical surprise mechan— I mean, “Mystery Boxes.” Is this a good idea?

Announced yesterday, the loot crates are $60 and their random contents include “five new limited edition PlayStation-branded items, averaging a total value of $90 MSRP.” Naturally, they aren’t saying what these branded items are, whether someone cleaned out a Public Storage locker full of PlayStation Home and Fat Princess swag, or if it’s actually good merch.

Image of a playstation mystery box
Pictured: a surprise mechanic
Sony Interactive Entertainment

A new box will be offered each day, giving buyers “a chance to collect a total of 25 limited edition items.” Fewer than 500 of each loot box will be made, and they’ll be sold at the PlayStation booth. Sony will sell what leftover crates remain on Sunday.

For those going, the PlayStation Gear Store is Booth 121. We’ll update this post if there are any Congressional investigations in the meantime.


Fallout 76 players say big new patch is a mess

Bethesda games are known for being buggy at launch, but Fallout 76 is being regularly updated; it should be getting better with time. And sure, yesterday’s update makes a number of welcome changes, like improving the experience for new players. But fans also say that the 11th patch seems to break just as many things as it fixes.

Players say they’re farming legendary enemies for ages without a single legendary drop. Fans are also reporting that there is now an area in Whitesprings that will automatically kill you. There’s a strange bug that will behead your character when you step out of Power Armor, shown below:

Bethesda Softworks via iAmRadic

Actually, there seem to be a number of Power Armor-related issues, such as game freezes, players getting stuck inside the armor, and gear that is perpetually unequipped for some reason. These are just highlights; players are compiling a wider list of issues over on Reddit.

The problems are bad enough that the tone of the overall community feels overwhelmingly negative right now. The Fallout Twitter account is getting inundated with complaints and angry messages from disappointed players, while the Fallout 76 Reddit is wall-to-wall complaints.

“What a fucking mess,” one Twitter user complained. “Way to completely destroy the game.”

“You guys broke everything,” another Twitter user said.

“Can we please have a test server before you roll out major changes to Fallout 76 please?” one fan suggested.

This sentiment is being echoed over on Reddit, where one top-voted thread calls the update “terrible.” “People are sick and tired of playing guinea pig for these recent updates,” the player explains.

Bethesda did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Part of the anger is that fans feel that Bethesda takes the time to “fix” things that don’t need fixing, while ignoring issues that feel more critical to the experience. One bullet point in the patch notes, for instance, says that Bethesda replaced a lightbulb in a bathroom stall in the game.

Players are also agitated by the idea that, while the game becomes more unstable, Bethesda is putting effort into sprucing up the Atom Shop, where players can spend real money on in-game items and cosmetics. One of the major changes introduced yesterday was a “facelift” for the storefront that will help Bethesda display more purchasable items than before.

While Fallout 76 has been rife with issues since launch, plenty of players are making their own fun via extensive role-play. That’s probably not going to change — these folks seem like lifers — but a segment of the fandom may be faltering.

“Even the people who sticked with the game are slowly losing hope,” said a disgruntled player on Reddit.


Microsoft shares ‘lifehack’ for upgrading to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

During Microsoft’s E3 2019 presentation, the company announced Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, a new offering that combines Xbox Game Pass (for both Xbox One and PC) and the Xbox One’s online service, Xbox Live Gold.

An introductory offer brings the first month of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate down to $1. It will cost $14.99/month after that, or $44.99 quarterly. But, notably, current Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass subscribers can upgrade to Game Pass Ultimate for $1, with any remaining months on those subscriptions getting upgraded as well. That means if you just bought a 12-month Xbox Live Gold subscription, you can pay $1 to change that over to 13 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Because Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass are both cheaper than Game Pass Ultimate, in theory someone could buy up a bunch of credits, up to the 36 month limit, and convert them to the new program. Folks all over the internet (including some news outlets) have been suggesting as much since the E3 announcement. Microsoft has now blessed the move with an official blog post.

Calling it a “lifehack”, Xbox Wire editor in chief Will Tuttle suggests extending your Xbox Live Gold subscription before picking up the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate deal. Of course, he explains how to do so through Microsoft, but you can save a bit more by picking up a discounted Game Pass or Live Gold subscription from a third-party retailer. Amazon Digital Services usually knocks a few bucks off subscriptions (a 6-month Live Gold subscription is $5 off right now) and you can sometimes even find discounted cards at your local grocery store.

Microsoft hasn’t indicated how long this deal will last, but you could even set a price tracker alert for Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold deals if you want to truly “hack” the system.


Tetris 99 physical release will come with Nintendo Switch Online subscription

Tetris 99 is getting a physical release and it will have an added bonus to sweeten the deal: a year of Nintendo Switch Online. Players who buy the game will also get access to all current and future paid download content for Tetris 99. The physical release comes out to North America Sept. 9 will cost $29.99.

The bundle makes sense given that the game is primarily played online. Tetris 99 is the battle royal Tetris game that throws together 99 players together in a single Tetris driven frenzy. The game is free to download on the Nintendo eShop, but players need to pay to unlock different play-modes.

Right now the Big Block DLC includes a CPU battle mode and an endless single-player mode. This fall, two more modes will be added including local arena, which allows up to eight-player local multiplayer, and a 2P share battle option where players share a Joy-Con to play.

The pricing isn’t a huge deal, given that the current DLC offered costs $9.99 and a year of Nintendo Switch Online costs $19.99 for a single person. It pretty much adds up to the same price. However, if you are an insatiable Tetris fiend, and are drawn to physical copies of games, this might be a good option.

If you want to take a stab at Tetris greatness, Tetris 99 is available to download and play with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription on the Nintendo eShop now.


PUBG now has lore; here’s Erangel’s official story

Brace yourselves: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds now has lore.

A video introducing the game’s Season 4 tells a partial story of the Erangel map. Spoiler alert, the narrator is the lone survivor of an airborne invasion and some fierce fighting there. (As one wiseguy mentioned in the YouTube comments: “That guy got the very first chicken dinner. And it was a pacifist win.”) Fast forward through the “?????” and “Profit!” phase of his life, and now he’s a zillionaire who organizes and watches huge mercenary free-for-all battles in his ravaged homeland.

Erangel is the first map in the game, so if PUBG is going to have an official story, it might as well start there. Erangel itself is a nod to the game’s origins as an Arma 2 mod, as Arma 2 is set in a fictitious post-Soviet state bordering Russia.

As players have noted, there are plenty of unofficial lore videos out there, many of them multi-part sagas, each at the YouTube recommend bot’s optimal length of 10 minutes. This one from PUBG Corp itself doesn’t go into as much depth but, hey, it’s canonical and the indie videos aren’t.

PUBG’s latest big patch arrived at the end of June and it delivered the BRDM-2 fighting vehicle and a proper Deagle to the arsenal, among a ton of other changes, upgrades, and updates. That patch will be coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 at the end of this month. Season 4 gets going July 24 on Windows PC; the new content it features is already on the public test server for that platform.


Streets of Rage 4 will bring back series composers Yuzo Koshiro, Motohiro Kawashima

Since developers LizardCube and Guard Crush Games announced they were working on Streets of Rage 4 last year, one question has been at the forefront of fans’ minds: Is Yuzo Koshiro, the musician who scored the first two Streets of Rage games, coming back? The answer is yes, and so is his Streets of Rage musical collaborator, Motohiro Kawashima.

Koshiro and Kawashima are just part of the Streets of Rage 4 soundtrack, which has drawn other all-star video game musical talent. Also contributing to the score are Yoko Shimomura, who wrote music for the original Street Fighter 2 and the Kingdom Hearts series; Hideki Naganuma, known for his work on the Jet Set Radio, Sega Rally, and Super Monkey Ball games; and Keiji Yamagishi, who wrote music for Ninja Gaiden and Tecmo Bowl.

In a new video discussing the soundtrack for Streets of Rage 4, Koshiro and Kawashima explain their approach to writing new music with modern sensibilities, while also retaining the spirit of the original Streets of Rage games. While they don’t appear to come to any definitive conclusions, it sounds like the duo may try to use old chiptunes-style tools while modernizing their sounds.

Koshiro had a long career with Sega, composing the soundtracks to games like The Revenge of Shinobi, Streets of Rage, and Shenmue. He collaborated with Kawashima on the music of Streets of Rage 2 and Streets of Rage 3.

The developers of Streets of Rage 4 have not announced a release date or platforms for the side-scrolling beat-’em-up.


Looks like Fortnite’s Save the World may go free-to-play next season

Battle Royale, Fortnite’s main attraction, can be downloaded for free on practically any modern device you could name. Save the World, Fortnite’s oft-ignored co-op PVE mode, requires players to actually drop some money before they can enjoy it. But today’s big Fortnite patch makes it seem as if the game is readying itself to remedy that problem.

In the Save the World section of the patch notes, Epic Games says that “Quests, missions alerts, and daily login rewards will now grant X-Ray Tickets instead of V-Bucks to players who are non founders. Paid Founders will not be affected by this change.” V-Bucks are Fortnite’s in-game currency, and Save The World partially justified its price tag by giving players another way to earn V-Bucks that would normally cost money.

Here’s the thing: You can’t currently play Save the World without being a founder. Both standard Fortnite packs available for purchase right now are technically Founder’s Packs. So what are the patch notes referring to when they say “non founders”? Could this be referring to Save the World soon going full free-to-play? Epic Games did not immediately respond for comment.

Save the World’s move to F2P has been a long-time coming, as the shift was originally planned for 2018. This move was pushed back, with Epic Games explaining that it’s “working on a broad set of features, reworks, and backend system scaling we believe are needed to go free-to-play.” It stands to reason that the developer is likely aiming for a 2019 release now, and these Save The World V-Buck changes are meant to reflect the eventual move.

Season 10 of Fortnite begins Aug 1.


Fortnite patch v9.40 adds another new shotgun and brings back the Bolt-Action Sniper

Fortnite probably didn’t need another shotgun, but patch v9.40 is bringing one anyway. The patch adds a fourth shotgun variety to the game, a few much needed quality of life buffs, and it even unvaulted the Bolt-Action Sniper Rifle.

The new shotgun is called the Tactical Shotgun, and it looks a little bit like an upgraded Tactical Shotgun. It will do slightly more damage than the Tactical while shooting at the same rate, and will come in Epic and Legendary rarities. Epic has also nerfed the Combat Shotgun’s headshot damage and range to help balance the addition of a new shotgun, and to give it a more defined place in the game.

This patch also vaults the Suppressed Bolt-Action Sniper and brings back the standard Bolt-Action, which has been out of the game for the last several months. This change isn’t likely to have a massive effect on the meta, but it should make sniping a slightly more viable option in general.

For a full look at everything that changed in Fortnite patch v9.40 you can see the patch notes below.

Fortnite patch v9.40

Weapons and Items

New Epic and Legendary Tactical Shotgun.

  • 83 / 87 maximum damage.
  • 1.5 shots per second.
  • Holds 8 shells.
  • Headshot multiplier of 2.25.
  • Available from Floor Loot, Chests, Supply Drops, Loot Carriers, and Vending Machines.

Semi-Auto Sniper Rifle now has reduced zoom while scoped.

  • Comment from Epic: This is a Quality of Life change to help improve the usability and feel of this weapon.

Combat Shotgun changes

  • Reduced Headshot multiplier from 1.7 to 1.5.
  • Reduced the long range effectiveness of the Combat Shotgun
  • Reduced the falloff curve ranges from:

2.44 tiles (unchanged)

4.88 tiles to 4.39 tiles.

9.77 tiles to 6.84 tiles.

19.53 tiles to 11.72 tiles.

  • Comment from Epic: After observing recent changes to damage falloff, we decided to further reduce its long range effectiveness and alter the curve to fall a bit more in line with other shotguns but still retain its unique flavor.


  • Suppressed Bolt-Action Sniper Rifle

Epic and Legendary variants.


  • Bolt-Action Sniper Rifle

Rare, Epic, and Legendary variants.

Bug Fixes

  • Drum Shotgun now has the correct environmental damage falloff.
  • Fixed a bug in which a Launch Pad couldn’t be destroyed by a pickaxe.


  • Picking up an item that fills a stack and creates an overflow will no longer result in the currently equipped item being dropped.

Instead of causing the currently equipped weapon to be dropped, the overflow will be dropped.

  • Players will now automatically pick up a consumable if it is already in their inventory and not maxed out.

If the auto pickup fills a stack, the overflow will be dropped.

  • A new Glider and Harvesting Tool have been added for Save the World Founder’s Pack owners.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed an issue involving Supply Drone Boxes not being visible after players shoot down the Supply Drone.
  • Supply Drones no longer remain stationary after getting stuck for too long.
  • Changed Invert “Aircraft Keyboard Controls” to “Invert Airborne Keyboard Controls” in the Options menu to reflect the fact that airborne land vehicles’ controls become inverted in the air.
  • Fixed some edge cases involving damage number display rounding down for some shotgun hits.
  • Blueprint doors now consistently render when players are building.
  • Players can now pick up items more easily when standing on top of them.
  • Foot controllers now properly allow players to rotate the next and previous weapon.
  • Bushes no longer block players from being healed by a Chug Splash.
  • If a player using a Shadow Bomb enters a vehicle, the Shadow Bomb effect will no longer remain active after the effect should have ended.
  • The Chug Splash now properly auto-sorts to the rightmost inventory slot when picked up, like other consumables.
  • Fixed an issue in which players would experience abnormally slow gliding after using a Rift-to-Go.
  • Consumables associated with a bar (Shield Potion, Med Kit, etc.) are now consistently usable by players riding a Zipline.
  • Fixed a rare issue involving Shadow Bombs not allowing for wall jumps at certain angles.
  • Players can no longer wall jump off of the corn fields while using a Shadow Bomb.
  • Players can no longer wall jump off of Slipstreams while using a Shadow Bomb.
  • Fixed an issue in which the rings for Fortbytes 4, 67, 70, and 89 would not appear even though the player was wearing the correct cosmetic.
  • To prevent players from exploiting the Deep Dab emote, it now has a delay before players are able to shoot after starting it.
  • Fixed an issue in which damage done to shields was causing the VFX to appear larger than normal, blocking players’ vision.
  • Foot Controller support improvements

Switched over to use dead zone and max throttle end points.

Better vehicle controls for Quad Crasher.


New Tournament: Xbox Cup (July 20th & 21st) [$1,000,000 in Cash Prizes!]

  • Solo Game Mode
  • This tournament is open to all players on Xbox One and does not require reaching any division in Arena.
  • The prize pool will be distributed across all server regions, with official rules and details released later this week. Check the tournament inside the game client for exact times.
  • Format:

July 20th – Round One: All Eligible Players

July 21st – Round Two: Top 1500 Players from Round One

New Tournament: Trios Cash Cup (July 21st) [$1,000,000 in Cash Prizes!]

  • Trios Game Mode
  • Participation in this event requires players to have reached Champion League in Arena play prior to the start of the event.
  • The prize pool will be distributed across all server regions, with official rules and details released later this week. Check the tournament inside the game client for exact times.
  • Format:

Single Day Tournament – July 21st

Round One: All Eligible Players

Round Two: Top 150 teams from Round One

Players can now choose a flag to display on their career profile.

  • This flag can be selected and changed from a player’s profile.
  • After changing or selecting their flag, players cannot change flags again for 30 days.
  • A player’s flag is visible to others when visiting a player’s profile and on tournament leaderboards.
  • For teams of two or more players, the flag chosen by the majority of the team will be displayed. If there is no majority, the globe flag will be displayed.
  • We are launching with an initial set of 37 total flags. Any additional flags added in the future will be announced in future updates.


  • Improved server performance of Zipline.
  • Improved client performance of Chug Jug.
  • Optimized the way pickaxes are spawned to reduce the chance of loading issues during the initial skydive landing.


  • Improved enemy footstep volume consistency, and changed volume falloff to logarithmic to make the sound diminish more naturally.
  • Decreased volume of a few sounds:

Chug Splash explosion.

Proximity Launcher explosion.

Ambient hum of the Slipstream platforms.

  • Added a wall impact audio layer for close quarters combat as an additional warning that an enemy is shooting a structure you’re on the opposite side of.

Bug Fixes

  • Wood/stone/metal bullet impacts are no longer silent on Mobile/Switch.
  • Revolver equip sound is no longer silent on Mobile/Switch.


Escape Menu & Social Panel updates:

  • The input action that would bring up either the Escape Menu or Social Panel will now bring up both of them in the lobby and while in a match.
  • A third tab has been added to the Social Panel. It contains all voice chat-related functionalities.
  • The Escape Menu and Top Bar received a visual update.


  • Added new Edit From Touch setting to enable/disable editing from touches (defaulted to enabled).
  • Bluetooth microphones have been enabled to support voice chat.
  • The emote wheel buttons are now bigger.

Bug Fixes

  • Air Strike shots no longer create large polygonal outlines.
  • Fixed an issue involving Pump and Combat Shotguns not correctly firing while Auto-Fire is selected.
  • Resolved voice chat issues when joining another player’s party.
  • The chest located in the Neo Tilted hotel is now openable.
  • Live spectating on mobile will display the spectator’s UI.
  • Players no longer remain logged into their account when they close the game.
  • Wallet in the Lifetime Refund Screen will now correctly display.
  • Leaving the “Show Help” open in the Warm Up stage won’t cause the Button to remain present during the match.
  • The “Tournament Region” text in the Compete tab is bigger.
  • Map Marker HUD Layout won’t be displayed when in the Battle Bus.
  • Emote HUD Layout will be displayed only in vehicles where it is possible to emote.
  • Players will be able to rotate cosmetics when using a touchpad.
  • The proper SFX will be played when equipping the Revolver.
  • Graphical improvement on the Wonder outfit while playing the Llama Bell emote.
  • Storm Eye Glider and Storm Bolt Harvesting Tool will display proper VFX.
  • Graphical improvement of the Flutter outfit.
  • Graphical improvement on the String Lights contrail.
  • Lantern contrail will display properly in-game.


Long-awaited Ringu sequel Sadako doesn’t click with the 21st century

Ringu, the franchise that spawned The Ring and delivered Japanese horror to American audiences, is back with an origin story of Sadako, the girl in the well. A dizzying world of psychics, ritual sacrifice, child abuse, and telepathy, Sadako, which had its North American premiere at the 2019 Fantasia Fest, never finds solid ground by which to expand the franchise. Losing several of the key elements that made the original films terrifying and thrilling, original series creator Hideo Nakata only finds a few more ideas to mine in this anticipated sequel.

Sadako opens with graffiti-covered walls of a burned-out tenement building. Images of demons, warn those who enter to leave or suffer the consequences. Traveling back through time, the camera swerves through the building until it lands in a closet. Through the slats in the double doors, a woman can be seen dousing gasoline across her apartment, before setting it on fire. Her daughter, whom she believes in the reincarnation of Sadako, lives locked up like Harry Potter

The atrocious act doesn’t live up to the gore or creep factor to which fans of the franchise have become accustomed to. Inspired by supernatural thrillers of the ‘80s, Sadako’s trail of amazing ideas never amounts to an enjoyable viewing experience. The idea of the tape ending up on video sharing websites with the ability to curse thousands of people at the same time could be an opportunity to explore how viral videos impact pop culture and affect the individuals featured in them. Nakata bypasses the thought experiment to focus on the story of a headstrong little brother and a duty-bound older sister.

Kadokawa Pictures

Older sis Mayu Akikawa (Elaiza Ikeda) is a doctor struggling to keep her dropout brother Kazuma Akikawa (Hiroya Shimizu), who dreams of being a social media influencer, from throwing his life away. Desperate to revive his failing channel, Kazuma decides to stop doing hidden camera pranks, and evolves into a murderino who explores “haunted” spaces. But after visiting the burned-out apartment, Kazuma disappears without a trace, and rumors that he’s been cursed. The police take the video of illegal activity off the website, but Kazuma’s followers are already swarming to prove his disappearance was a hoax.

After a glacial first act, taking far too much time to introduce characters, Nakata conjures some visual intensity as Sadko shifts to the perspective of Kazuma’s filmed, selfie journey. The film keeps the handheld cell phone look throughout the entire scene, replicating the experience of watching an influencer on Instagram. But when Nakata cuts back to his sister in a well-lit room, the immersive experience becomes all the fun of watching someone else watch a Youtube video. The lack of black and white flickering screen that accompanied the end of every original possessed VHS tape in past films left me feeling bereft.

The visuals only get worse from there. When Sadako finally makes an appearance, she emerges from the well completely dry, losing the cool dripping wet cadaver feel she gave off in previous films. The contorted stuttered steps are less rigid, therefore more human, and less terrifying. She doesn’t even kill her first victim, simply terrifies her and then leaves. This could be the smallest body count in franchise history. Five people die in the fire, but truly that has nothing to do with Sadako. Two other people find their lives cut tragically short, but not directly via the video.

Kadokawa Pictures

The films biggest sin is how little it the lore is kept intact, with the ticking clock of the previous films removed for logic’s sake. At one point, Mayu gets a random vision of Sofue revealing to her daughter that she is a harbinger of death. Only instead of Sadako shivering alone in a closet, it’s Sofue who trembles as she hears the news. How did this happen? Is the mother channeling Mayu’s thoughts from beyond the grave? Is the little girl feeding her thoughts? Has Sadako learned a new trick? The film never makes sense of it.

The sense of urgency once provided by the tapes has been replaced by an arbitrary belief that the full moon Mayu saw in a vision foretells of the time when Kazuma will die. With mentions of psychics and prophecy, this glaring omission hurts the magical laws of the film. Without knowing how or why the events of Sadako’s past took place, or how they’re connecting to current events there’s a hefty slogging through disjointed events.

With the lowest body count in Ringu franchise history, virtually no jump scares, a weak demonic presence, and a storyline that does little to enhance the original storyline Sadako is a movie that escaped from the D-movie horror section of a long-shuttered video rental store. But there’s still hope for this franchise; just look at how The Conjuring series persists as one of the best horror anthologies even with bumps in the road. The world could use more Sadako, but it doesn’t exist in this movie.


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