Under ideal conditions, BioShock Infinite’s speedrun should be a short rush full of shotgun blasts and level skips. Instead, it’s often a dice roll to see if runners get an item that saves them time. Fed up with random chance ruining their attempts, speedrunners have agreed on a solution to remove the problem: cheat.
One of the most important tools to going fast in BioShock Infinite is the Hill Runner’s Hat. It is a piece of equipment that gives the player a 50% speedboost whenever their shield breaks. Whenever the player takes a certain amount of damage, they can get a burst of speed that significantly cuts down on time throughout the speedrun. It can save up to eight minutes over the course of a speedrun. However, the hat only has 2% chance of dropping for the player and runners can go hours without ever picking it up. The prospect of grinding hours of runs in order to get a decent Hill Runner’s Hat drove many runners to stop regularly running the game.
“I no longer have any desire to run the game purely because HRH makes it hard to commit to any runs and even if you get it quickly you still have to execute,” one former speedrunner said on Reddit. “It’s a great run with lots of cool tricks throughout but the grind is too frustrating.”
Runners came together in the community Discord to discuss ways to bring more people back to the game. Yesterday, they decided to allow players to use a mod to ensure they get the Hill Runner’s Hat on their first attempt. After debating it if modded runs should be in their own category or not, the community decided to include modded runs in the game’s Any% category, which seeks to beat the game in the fastest time possible.
The Force HRH mod is a simple patch that ensure that the Hill Runner’s Hat always drops at the spot where speedrunners always grind for it. The aim is to give everyone the same advantage and remove a significant stopgap from the run that was driving many to stop playing the game. The decision is somewhat controversial as the mod is technically a form of cheating, at least according to the original rules for the category.
“You can’t use gameplay altering mods and call it any%,” a commenter said on Reddit. “Make it a separate category. If no one wants to run the game without the mod, remove any% and only keep the mod category.” “You can do whatever you want and call it whatever you want so long as everyone is on the same page,” another user replied. “There’s no speedrunning council that can decide whether your naming conventions meet guidelines. All speedruns are community driven.”
Speedrunning categories help specify rules for individual runs but those rules are often subject to debate and interpretation as new glitches and techniques are found. Certain games do allow modifications and custom saves that all runners can use in order to reduce random chance. Borderlands 2’s speedrunning community shares a number of save files that grant players default weapon loadouts at the start of the game. The decision to allow the HRH mod in BioShock Infinite may seem odd to the casual player but should allow BioShock Infinite runners create a more consistent and competitive community.
“Pandora’s box has been opened,” one runner said on Twitter.