An accomplished speedrunner has been working hard all week to get to the end of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild before the game is released. So far, he’s managed to reach the final boss in 50 minutes, but not beat it yet.
This isn’t quite a shock. This new Zelda game, which isn’t even officially out until tomorrow, is unlike others in the series in many ways. Among them is the fact that, according to Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma, players can skip most of the game and just rush to the end. The problem is, it’ll be very hard.
“Anybody who can go straight to the goal without doing anything else — there’s two possibilities,” Aonuma told Polygon last year. “Either they’re a really good gamer, or they could be somebody that’s a little bit crazy. But it’s not impossible.”
Seth Hendrickson, who goes by the name SethBling, has spent the week undeterred. He is an accomplished speedrunner and YouTuber. He’s programmed a working emulator in Minecraft and pulled off a nearly impossible glitch in Super Mario World.
Back in January, he told Nintendo that he would be interested in rushing right through the game. Last month, they sent him a Switch and got to work routing a speedrun. Hendrickson credits this decision to his massive following on YouTube, where he has almost two million followers. Early access provided a rare opportunity: few games have been so thoroughly explored by a speedrunner before release.
“I’ve been playing 12 hours a day and slacking really hard on everything in my life,” he told Kotaku.. “This is the most aggressive I’ve gone on a project.”
This article contains spoilers for the game’s structure. We do not name the final boss or give away any story details.
“When I touch a game, I want to understand it,” Hendrikson said. Since 24th February, he’s been working through how Breath of the Wild is designed, assessing what is and isn’t possible. The game’s structure is very loose, allowing players to head straight to the final boss of the game after leaving a starting area and acquiring their initial arsenal of powers from a few shrines.
Hendrickson spent time trying to bypass this early game section but found no other way to proceed. Focusing on the fastest way through the game, he admitted on stream today that he neglected necessities like food during extended routing and practice.
Together with a speedrunner named Sockfolder, Hendrickson eventually found the best route to the last dungeon. The pair found a path that avoid the majority of deadly monsters in his path. On this path, he is able to run to the final boss in around 12 minutes. The end result is a determined, naked Link rushing towards the final boss in Hyrule.
In the video above, SethBling outlines his route in detail. Be warned: he completes the game and shows the final boss.
The biggest trick that Hendrickson and Sockfolder have discovered is a climb up a steep spire near Hyrule Castle. It allows him to avoid the various guardians and defences around the castle so he can paraglide right to the inner sanctum. It doesn’t look exciting but it saves him from instant death from the guardians laser beams while cutting down on time.
This is not the first speedrun of the game before release. An unverified speed run on a bootleg copy of the game supposedly took over three and a half hours. Seth’s route eliminates a great deal of that time. It takes around 50 minutes total to clear the starting area and run to Hyrule Castle for the final battle. Skipping the main dungeons means he has to complete fight four additional fights before tackling the final boss. Hendrickson hasn’t accomplished a successful run yet, although he’s grinding out attempts as of the time of this article’s publication but is struggling at the final battle.
“That’s the biggest question mark on the route,” SethBling said.“[One of the bosses] is a little ridiculous. Speedrunning is about muscle memory. I have a save file where I do practice. I know it’s possible.”
Although he died to the final boss during his second run this morning, he was able to defeat the boss that was giving him the most trouble. I’ve been watching him get further and further with each attempt.
He has been trying to complete his run since 6AM EST this morning and is now contemplating taking caffeine pills to he can keep going. His only meal has been a brownie sundae provided by his girlfriend. At noon, Hendrickson stopped speedrun attempts for more practice. With some luck, he’ll have a successful run soon and can finally get some rest.
“It’s been an interesting experience,” SethBling said. “I went into it know I’d go whole hog unless I hated the game. But I love it.”