Speedruns have been hammering away at The legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild since before release day. The game somehow found itself in the wild, allowing some preliminary runs to clock Link’s latest adventure in under four hours. Times have drastically improved since then, and just over the weekend the first sub-hour run was recorded by Venick409. But it’s not come with its own share of controversy in the community.
Venick409 recorded his run at 54:05, with the game being run with a “Any %” stipulation. What this means is that Venick409 just needs to finish the game by beating the final boss, without any other sorts of required quests in-between. Since Breath of the Wild lets you go straight to Ganon from the get go (and get your ass royally handed to you if you’re just a regular player), this makes the game ripe for some seriously fast, exploitative runs.
Just before Venick409’s run, the record stood at 58:01, set by gymnast86. He only narrowly beat out a previous run set by Orcastraw, who clocked in at 58:06. There’s a major difference, however, between the runs Venick409 and Orcastraw performed – Amiibo. Both runners made use of the Super Smash Bros. Twilight Link Amiibo to spawn a horse very early in the game, allowing them to gallop to Ganon faster than traditional sprint hacks would allow.
Viewers of the runs have taken issue with the use of the toys, making it clear that it seems like cheating on the runners’ part. But other speedrunners aren’t too concerned, with SethBling (another Breath of the Wild runner with a time over one hour) claiming that it’s all within the rights of the runner to use whatever means necessary to make the run faster.
“It probably saves something like 30 seconds, which is pretty small given the current level of variance. [Amiibos] are seen by casual audience members as “cheating”, but they also currently don’t affect the run that much.”
The use of Epona helps the run by around 30 seconds. As a reference point, playing the game in German as opposed to English helps around 12 seconds, while runners are finding the faster load times on Wii U to also help out a bit. Every second counts here, but runners aren’t really pointing towards the Amiibo as the reason there’s such a discrepancy. Instead, most seem held up on Ganon – who is proving to be one of the toughest bosses the series has produced yet.
“It is probably the most intense boss fight in any Zelda game I’ve ever done speedruns of,” gymnast86 notes, who claims that most of his time lost comes from dying in the fight. Runners are already making good use of Link’s Flurry Rush and keenly timed parries to make the best of the unbalanced duel, but there’s still a lot of ground to perfect.
And that’s when you’ll start seeing times really shoot up. Right now Breath of the Wild is fertile ground for speedrunning, and I can’t wait to see what insane exploits come bubbling to the surface soon.