Every world record Elden Ring speedrun is exhilarating. Each unfolds at breakneck speed. They are fast, and often frantic. In fact, the optimal Elden Ring speedrun route has to be meticulously mapped out, as even one single millisecond can be the difference between topping the leaderboard and hitting the slush pile of unremarkable sprints harder than a strike from Radagon’s hammer. Speedrunning has always complemented FromSoftware games, but whereas the communities which built around Bloodborne and Dark Souls might be now considered a subculture, there’s no doubt that the mass appeal of Elden Ring has opened the doors to a new generation of quick-thinking, record-setting runners.
An average playthrough of Elden Ring will typically take no fewer than 50 hours, which can easily double (if not triple) for those who are in a rush to conquer the Lands Between. But for the most prolific Elden Ring speedrunners, that time is down to just 26 minutes and 07 seconds. When I first began reaching out to players in this community, rival runners Muftaay (opens in new tab) and Spicee (opens in new tab) were trading the world record back and forth, shaving seconds off of each other’s times, sometimes just hours apart from one another.
By Muftaay’s estimations, the 26:07 runtime is fast, but it’s not fast enough. “That run overall went super well, the pace was very good and the only major mistake was failing the Gideon Tree skip once at the end, which cost around eight seconds. Without that I would have had the sub-26.” The desire to break something as challenging and sprawling as Elden Ring down in under 26 minutes requires skill, patience, and technical precision, as well as an ability to wield exploits and glitches with deadly accuracy.
Elden Ring may be only four weeks old, but Muftaay is already feeling the pressure to stay competitive. “At first, I thought I could now lean back a little and explore other speedrun categories. But Spicee is already back on the grind; I really respect him as a player, and he is, in my opinion, more consistent than I am. I know my run was very good, but since he is so good, I’m honestly a little nervous that it could still be beaten. I’m checking the leaderboards almost every two hours!”
Skip to the end
This mix of dread, excitement and mutual respect has always underpinned the Dark Souls speedrunning scene – the most recognised runners of which are part of the super-friendly SpeedSouls (opens in new tab) community – but what is entirely new here is the runners themselves. While being a fan of FromSoft’s back catalog, Muftaay had never speedrun a video game before picking up Elden Ring, and, just two weeks later, had set his first world record. Spicee, on the other hand, learned the fundamentals of speedrunning via Resident Evil Village – a game that could hardly be more different in structure and style compared to FromSoftware’s latest hit.
By his own admission, Muftaay’s understanding of the technical side of speedrunning is limited, but his skills while dancing around the plains and peaks of the Lands Between are second to none. For the uninitiated, players like Muftaay and Spicee are competing within a category of speedrunning called ‘Any%’, where most exploits – like map-breaking glitches or skips that can let you bypass certain areas and bosses – are fair game.
Unearthing these glitches requires patience and perseverance, the vast majority of which are discovered by players who have little interest in speedrunning themselves. For Muftaay, their dedication does not go unappreciated. He says: “There’s a ‘Discovery’ channel on the Discord, and they sometimes post maps with coordinates. They tell you which coordinates they’ve tried a ‘WrongWarp’ on, and which are still left to be tried. And it looks so crazy – I’d say they probably put in more work than I do in my runs, it’s amazing.”
‘WrongWarp’ is a popular exploit among Elden Ring speedrunners. It’s a glitch that long-time Souls players may be familiar with, letting players utilize spawn points to skip entire sections of the games. We spoke to Fladi, who is credited with discovering the glitch in Elden Ring, about how he stumbled across this vital speedrunning tool.
“When I first saw the Memory of Grace, it got me thinking: what if I used the item just as I interacted with a Site of Grace? Nothing happened. However, after leaving the Site of Grace, the Memory of Grace activated, without me actually accepting the prompt. A loading screen appeared and it teleported me back to my last rested Site of Grace. That then got me thinking: what if I warp to another Site of Grace, while in the animation of the Memory of Grace?”
“After a bit of testing, I figured out the right timing was needed to get a WrongWarp. What basically happened is that I used the Memory of Grace and the game wanted to put me back at my last rested Site of Grace. But, since I warped to another spot, the game got confused and sent me to the default Site of Grace for whichever area you warp to. It’s a nice feeling to see people using it, and I feel really honored to be able to give the speedrunners something that is useful.”
Spicee’s path to Elden Ring world records is even less likely, given his limited experience with FromSoftware’s games. He says the likes of Bloodborne and Sekiro had been on his backlog for some time, and while he understood the pre-launch hype for Elden Ring, he didn’t share the same enthusiasm as Souls players having missed out to that point. “I’d always watched a decent amount on YouTube and Twitch, but I never actually played one until Dark Souls 3 two weeks before getting Elden Ring. And I fucking loved it! It’s such a good game,” says Spicee. “After finishing Dark Souls 3, I looked at some of the speedruns there and they look super-fun. I wish I’d played Dark Souls 3 sooner because I’d love to run it.”
That two players who are relative newcomers to both speedrunning and FromSoftware games have been able to set such competitive times is certainly impressive. From Spicee’s point of view, he doesn’t believe that a fresh perspective is what’s fueling his extraordinary Elden Ring speedruns, although the game has taught him a valuable lesson. “I think I’d have been better going into Elden Ring had I speedrun Dark Souls, because in these games you pretty much need to play with a controller. You can play on mouse and keyboard, but it’s all a little wonky. For the longest time, I’ve been anti-controller – the first game I ever played with a controller, seriously, was Dark Souls 3. It took me quite a while to get used to.”
For Muftaay, it’s more a case of confidence and repetition. In his earliest runs, there were areas, jumps, and maneuvers he describes as being terrified of, but now, after countless attempts and failures, he can’t not land them. The same applies to Elden Ring’s most challenging boss battles – speedrunning is so tightly bound to timing and routine, that bosses are, assuming you stick to the plan, no longer difficult per se, but are simple bouts of RNG.
If fate is on your side, like it was when Muftaay nailed his 26:07 run (opens in new tab), then the records will likely follow. He says: “On one particular jump near the end of the game, you can fall off the ledge for, like, a millisecond, but you can still do the jump. If you just wait till this moment, you can always land it – that just happens naturally after a while. I look at the pros, see what they’re doing, and try to refine my own runs. I’ve been practicing bosses too, and I think I know some stuff about bosses that other speedrunners don’t. For example, when fighting Radagon, and this is a bit of a secret, but if you go up to a certain point you can cast three Hoarfrost Stomps (an OP maneuver most speedrunners use) instead of two every single time. When I look at other runners, I don’t see them doing that.”
Speaking of other runners, you might have spied Distortion2’s 19-minute run last month, wherein the long-serving Dark Souls series speedrunner used an increasingly prominent glitch named ‘The Zip’ to complete Elden Ring from start to finish in an unfathomably fast time. While undoubtedly impressive, this particular glitch isn’t recognised in world record standings just yet, simply because it can’t be replicated with consistency or reliability across different hardware specs. In the meantime, the Any% WrongWarp remains the most popular route for Elden Ring speedrunners and, at present, a sub-26 minutes time remains the holy grail. That, and chasing the highs of crossing the finish line with a new world record under your belt.
“The dopamine rush from finishing a run and realizing that it’s a record is pretty insane,” says Spicee. “You can capitalize on the hype of being the world’s first whatever, sub-30 or whatever it might be. But when you’re running an optimized game – when you’ve worked out the most efficient route and build – and when you’re starting to trade times with someone else, that’s the most exciting part. When you have the record, there’s less of an incentive to keep running, but when someone gets back in front, that’s when the grind starts all over again.”
“I’ve been playing pretty much 24 hours a day for three weeks. Eating, sleeping, the things the human body needs have been getting in the way!” laughs Muftaay. “Nah, I’m not that extreme with it, but I definitely do still want that sub-26. The first time I got the world record, I was actually screaming. I don’t think I’ve felt that way while playing a video game since beating ‘Through the Fire and Flames’ in Guitar Hero 3, like, 10 years ago.”
“So I’m not quite done yet, I’ll be trying to get sub-26. Getting the first sub-26 would also make for a good video title of course. Who knows, maybe I’ll even stream the process!”