In the almost two months that have passed since Ring of Elden was released, the average gamer would have needed dozens of hours to complete the “main story” portion of the game. Given this, the fact that the speedrunning community can now demonstrate a complete run from start to finish Ring of Elden run in under nine minutes might be a little surprising.
Even for experienced Ring of Elden players, watching Distortion2’s withdrawal from play in 8 minutes and 56 seconds – a run in which he doesn’t attack a single enemy – can be confusing. So let us help you with a quick primer on the short history of Ring of Elden the speedrunning so far and the glitches and achievements that take players through the Lands Between in ever shorter time frames.
Bad chains and flying horses
Only a few days later Ring of Elden‘s end of February, players marveled at traditional no-death runs that lasted just under 2.5 hours. Soon, however, players immersed themselves in the old dark souls speedrun tricks to bypass difficult bosses or reach new map sections via careful, barely survivable jumps. This led to the first audience, in less than an hour Ring of Elden speedrun by Twitch streamer LilAggy on March 9, just 12 days after the game was released.
A few days later, however, Distortion2 had already reduced that time to 28:59 using “bad distortion” techniques. These glitches take advantage of a quirk where the game can sometimes lose track of a player’s true position in the world. In these cases, reloading the game will see that player “warp” to the “default location” in the center of the current area. This bad warp can save a lot of tedious traversals and avoid many threats at the same time.
A few days later, speedrunners stumbled upon another key issue that allows your horse, Torrent, to essentially walk on air. The Pegasus glitch, as it would soon be called, requires a player to drop their mount off the side of a cliff before reloading and reviving the steed, which now has the ability to gallop without ground beneath its feet. While the Pegasus glitch was a curiosity among speedrunners at first, the community quickly found ways to make their horse fly through certain boss areas in unexpected ways and defeat unwary enemies with ease.
These glitches were just a prelude to the ultimate Ring of Elden speedrunning tool: a still mysterious exploit called zipping. While the community doesn’t fully understand what underlying conflict in the game’s code is causing the zip, speedrunners are still more than happy to use the technique to “zip” vast distances in the blink of an eye. .
Performing a zip is a highly technical process that requires a particular environment and execution. First, the method only seems to work if the game is running at a steady frame rate of 60fps (or maybe 30fps, with more difficult timing). Even then, the issue is inconsistent across different hardware; even using input macros that remove timing from the equation doesn’t always result in success.
If everything is set up correctly, however, a player must hold down the block and wait between 129 and 135 frames for their idle animation cycle to start looping. The player then begins to move forward and releases the walk button precisely 139 frames after the start of the block. To achieve perfect synchronization of their button in this window of a 16.6 ms frame, some speedrunners used a metronome set to 108 or 109 beats per minute, releasing the power button after exactly four beats.
If executed correctly, a strange interplay between the two dueling animation cycles causes the game to panic and distort the player over great distances, even passing through the game’s architecture. The discovery allowed Distortion2 to use zips wisely to beat Ring of Elden in just over 12 minutes last week.
Breaking the 10-minute plateau, however, would require the more recent discovery of what the speedrunning community calls the mega zip. For some reason players have found pushing a second directional input in a window 12-14 frames after the first zip could increase their zip distance by a factor of two to four.
While these longer mega zips are useful for getting around the Lands Between even faster, they’ve proven most useful for skipping the only previously unskippable boss fight in these speedruns: Maliketh.
To do this, speedrunners relied on another recent discovery that used the Pegasus glitch to gallop across the sky and get away from a tricky boss. After galloping far enough away from the boss arena, the ground beneath that boss’s feet would disappear from the game’s active memory. The boss then falls into the void, dying without any combat.
While the Pegasus glitch wasn’t always possible or practical for many boss fights, the Twitch streamer’s “researcher” demonstrated that a mega zip could similarly pull the player far enough away to disappear from the ground beneath Maliketh. during Ring of Eldenthe last section. With this proof of concept in hand, Distortion2 clocked a truly staggering run of under nine minutes over the weekend without fighting a single enemy.
Despite the incredible weather, this latest record run was slowed by a few failed zip attempts. Distortion2 writes in the video’s description that they “will continue to grind this for the sub-7”, ensuring that the quest for even shorter times will continue. When this happens, however, the community may find another technique that opens up the game more.
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