The last Ring of Elden The speedrun world record is less than 10 minutes away now. It involves a metronome, absolutely no combat, and, in the dying seconds of the run, a player being torn apart by one of the game’s final bosses. It’s profoundly silly, and I love it.
Distortion2, a popular Soulsborne speedrunner, broke the world record in Ring of Elden‘s any% unrestricted category with a time of 8 minutes and 56 seconds. I paid quite particular attention to Distortion2 and its Ring of Elden fellow speedrunners, pretty certain of what to expect in this nearly 9 minute speedrun. But I started screaming excitedly in the opening seconds of the speedrun as Distortion2 exited the starting area and bypassed the grafted scion boss, mandatory death, and the entire Limgrave area to spawn unscathed at Castle Stormveil. Shenanigans were going on.
Ring of Elden world records have changed dramatically over the past month. In March, I was taking my jaw off the ground after completing runs in less than an hour. Runners were teleporting to the final dungeon within the first few minutes of the game using bad warp glitch and defeating bosses with the massively overpowered Hoarfrost Stomp weapon ability. When FromSoftware depowered Hoarfrost Stomp in a patch, runners lamented the death of the any% category, thinking it would be a while before glitch hunters and speedrun routers found a quick alternative to take down punishing bosses. Game.
They did, finding a glitch so powerful it would completely eliminate the need to fight bosses. The path to a fight-free speedrun under 10 minutes involves tweaking the game’s graphics settings and using a metronome to run what’s called a zip glitch. The runners refuse Ring of Eldenthe graphics at their lowest setting to ensure the game produces a consistent FPS. Then they turn on a metronome app at 109 beats per minute while in a blocking position facing the direction they want to go. Players wait four ticks before advancing, and if the trick is performed with the correct timing (hence the metronome), they will shoot the map.
This zipper glitch is the key to everything, as it not only allows the player to leap massive distances that were previously covered on horseback, but also causes boss arenas with bosses still in them to fall to their deaths. . This is how Distortion2 was able to beat the game without beating a single enemy, even bypassing Malekith, the speedrun’s only mandatory boss fight. I’m actually a little sad about this development because one of Distortion2’s previous runs involved fighting Malekith with no upgrades, the minimum number of healing flasks, and a +4 Icerind hatchet. It’s a fight where a single hit means instant death with Maliketh’s disgusting speed and brutal damage. Watching Distortion2 beat him under all those strains was something phenomenal.
The final, utterly clunky nail in this eight-minute, 56-second coffin is the “boss fight.” At the end of the game, the racers use a difficult to execute but more powerful zip glitch to kill the final boss and end the race. Since the zip glitch allows players to fight bosses that are out of order (or not at all), some bosses that would normally be dead are still alive and respawning. Competing the final zipper bug requires saving and closing, and upon restarting, the player spawns in the room before the final boss arena. There is a boss there. He’s not dead and he’s very angry that he was ignored. So as Distortion2 spawns, he is immediately attacked by this boss, immediately dying in a nasty grab attack as God Slain splashes across the screen, indicating that the final boss is dead and the speedrun is over. Alexa, play it Calm your enthusiasm theme.
Ring of Elden is still firmly in the honeymoon phase of speedrunning. The game is fresh enough that new tricks and feats crop up daily, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Eventually, a preferred, consistent strategy will emerge and calcify, creating a time plateau broken only by the smallest of deviations – a faster button press here or a difficult strategy executed on the first try there. We don’t know how long this golden age of Ring of Elden the speedrunning will last or if FromSoftware will fix the relevant issues, initiating a new run down. But, for now, the almost daily progression of speedruns with mind-blowing glitches and unfathomable times is so much fun to watch. In fact, the speedrun scene is moving so fast that, while this was being written, Distortion2 broke another world record, dropping the time from 8 minutes and 56 seconds to 6 minutes and 59 seconds. I love speedrunning so much.