Elden Ring recently received a giant patch which, among other things, removed certain glitches that the speedrunners were using to traverse the Middlelands. Among the 1.03 removals is the all-important ‘zip glitch’, so speedrunners continue to use 1.02 to take advantage of it, and they’re getting faster.
Distortion2 is a longtime Souls speedrunner (among other games) and streamer, who recently managed to end a 15-hour stream by zip-glitching Elden Ring. The zip is an extremely specific glitch that depends on the player’s hardware and some of the game’s background math, but the result is simple: you can warp across the map, skipping giant chunks of the game entirely.
The goal was a run of less than 20 minutes, but the luck he has with the folds is such that the run ends up scoring an impressive 18:57. This follows weeks of Distortion2 and many other speedrunners, of course, setting records that seemed implausible only to be broken days later: at one point, we reported on a two and a half hour runthen suddenly the flaws were discovered and you’re looking at half an hour.
Anyway: less than 19 minutes now. The first time I played Elden Ring I was probably still on the character creation screen at that point.
The zip glitch makes this a little weird to watch, and it’s one of those aspects of speed racing that is an acquired taste. Some speedruns are purely about skill, winning a game on your own terms with superhuman knowledge and reflexes. Some, like this one, are about using a game’s own internal logic against it and failing like crazy to do things that seem impossible (which, of course, requires skill in itself).
The streamer later detailed how much time each warp saved.
FIRST IN THE WORLD Any% Elden Ring in less than 20 minutes!! I changed a flight and did a 15h stream for that, I almost lost hope, but in the end I won. Thanks to everyone who was there and supported me during this insane stream March 28, 2022
This is one of the most interesting (and confusing) aspects of modern speedrunning. Nintendo never released patches for Ocarina of Time, so the flaws in that game and the ways to tweak it remain constant. These days, almost every game, and particularly one on the scale of Elden Ring, will receive regular maintenance that will address what the developer considers unintended issues like zip failure.
So you end up with this fork of the speedrunning community, with some players insisting that the most recent version of the game should be the one where records ‘count’, while others point to the version that has the most exploitable aspects. Of course, both race types will continue to co-exist independently, although I’m curious to see if, a few years from now, Elden Ring will have 20 different categories built around different versions.
I reached out to Distortion2 to ask about the version being used and if he thought speedrunners were reaching the limit of what could be achieved in Elden Ring. “Yes, the under-20 version was 1.02,” writes Distortion2. “We’re definitely getting closer to the limit, but the potential for the ‘zip’ failure is limitless. Theoretically, there are an infinite number of settings and apps for this, so over time I think under-15s could happen.”
Of those who continue to run the game on patch 1.03 and beyond, the current world record seems to be that of a guy who barely got noticed: l337Plummy here breaks the 40 minute mark which, given the crimps introduced by FromSoftware, is equally incredible. The way things are going, someone will have broken those two records by tomorrow.