It’s easy to marvel at the exploits of speedrunners, especially players who are currently working on speedruns from the adventure hard as hell Ring of Elden. These very technical players can condense a difficult and huge game in just 19 minutes of play, with a combination of technical skills, glitches and exploits. The game wasn’t released until late February, but players continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible. To better understand what it takes to speed up FromSoftware’s latest game, Polygon spoke to Tom “LilAggy” Agnewwho currently holds a personal best of 59:38 and was one of the speedrunners to beat the game in under an hour.
Speedrunners will try to beat a game from start to finish as quickly as possible, while adhering to a set of rules. For Ring of Elden, that means starting a new save file and playing through the character customization screen, doing whatever it takes to kill the Elden Beast, and roll to the end of the credits. LilAggy and the Distortion2 speedrunner in under 20 minutes (which beat the game in one incredibly short 18:57), compete in a speedrun category called “Any%”, where all pips are fair.
From the start, LilAggy knew he would speedrun Ring of Elden since he is a Soulslike streamer who has passed other difficult races, such as beating all dark souls only use poop as a weapon. He told Polygon via email that the idea for the speedrun Ring of Elden he particularly liked it because it “would lead to a very different type of run than previous Soulslike games”, as previous games were more linear and required you to progress through multiple bosses before reaching the end. In Ring of Elden, if your character is strong enough (and skilled enough), you can run all the way, like you would in many open-world games. That left a lot of options on how to approach speedrunning, LilAggy said.
The extended community’s previous experience with other Soulslikes helped give LilAggy a starting point for the new game’s speedrun. Ring of Elden runs on the same game engine as some Souls games, so a lot of issues have been carried over from those titles. “Right from the start, the community knew what kind of exploits and techniques to experiment with to see if they worked in Ring of Elden,” he said.
Some techniques like “bad chains”, where players use spawn points to skip large parts of the game, carried over from previous games. “I think the most surprising thing was how easy it was to get the distortion wrong in Ring of Elden.” He said: “All it takes is respawning or quickly moving to the right place and then immediately quitting the game.
While it’s easy to fix all of our attention on the streamers performing the feats, LilAggy emphasized the importance of the larger community in speedrunning. Each person brings their own set of talents to help people like him find the best way to run through the game.
“Some people are very good at finding glitches, some people are good at understanding how to use those glitches to form a route for the speedrun, and some people just focus on running the speedrun using that knowledge,” said he declared.
Despite the knowledge and expertise required for speedrunning, LilAggy sees other players blaming speedrunners for not enjoying the game “properly” because Any% runs uses glitches to play the game. “I hope that would be obvious, but anyone who runs a game fast does it because they love it,” he said. Before LilAggy started speedrunning, he had already put in about 75 hours of casual gaming, before deciding he wanted a new way to experience gaming.
“I can see how off-putting the abuse of glitches and exploits can be for some, but there’s a real beauty and art to figuring out exactly how to open games like this, and it’s often a lot. , much more difficult than playing the game in normal times.”