Just like its predecessor, Breath of the Wild, the Tears of the Kingdom speedrunners are finding ways to beat the game even faster every day. The speedrunner community surrounding the game has already broken the game. Let’s see how:
How does the mind of a Legend of the Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom speedrunner work?
When the majority of players were just starting their exploration of Great Sky Island, the tutorial area in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, there was a Tears of the Kingdom speedrunner who had already completed the game within hours of its release. The record-setting time was an impressive one hour and 34 minutes.
The speedrunner in question is Gymnast86, also known as Carl Wernicke. He is part of a growing community of Tears of the Kingdom speedrunners who have dedicated countless hours to experimenting, iterating, and completing playthroughs of Tears of the Kingdom since its recent launch. This community largely consists of the same group of pathfinders and enthusiastic experimenters who have been setting records in Breath of the Wild for the past six years. However, the excitement surrounding this sequel has significantly increased their numbers and reignited their passion for pushing the boundaries of the game.
While Gymnast’s initial record in Tears of the Kingdom has been surpassed by other competitive speedrunners, he and many others continue to uncover new glitches, establish new records, and enhance the community’s understanding of the game they hold in deep admiration. Their ongoing efforts contribute to the constant evolution and improvement of the speedrunning community’s achievements in Tears of the Kingdom.
Zelda fans have broken the game in a ‘good way’
Many speedrunners in Tears of the Kingdom have been longstanding members of the Zelda series’ extensive speedrunning community. The original 3D Zelda game, Ocarina of Time, has attracted numerous speedrunners and continues to have a competitive scene even today. One such speedrunner, Venick, currently holds the record for “All Dungeons” in Tears of the Kingdom. He explains that his initial attraction to speedrunning stemmed from Ocarina of Time for a simple reason:
“Ocarina of Time is very broken,” Venick says with a laugh. “In a good way! But It’s what got me into speedrunning.”
The ability for players to manipulate and exploit the game mechanics is a unique strength of the Zelda speedrunning community. This somewhat backhanded compliment is widely shared within the community. As it recognizes that the Zelda games’ design allows for competitive speedruns where players can skillfully bend the rules.
“It’s the way all the Zelda games are built,” Venick says. “In a Mario game it’s: get from the start of the level to the star as fast as you can. But that’s your goal. But Zelda requires asymmetrical thinking. Instead of following down a predetermined path, it’s ‘how can I skip half of these options and just get to the end?’ That’s what I love.”
Exploiting Tears of the Kingdom glitches
The thriving hobby of speedrunning owes much of its depth and excitement to the utilization of exploits and glitches by its competitors, enabling them to achieve remarkably fast runs. This is where self-proclaimed “glitch hunters” play a vital role. These dedicated individuals focus on actively seeking and discovering new, beneficial methods to break the game’s intended mechanics, hoping that their findings will prove valuable to speedrunners.
Setting records is not the primary concern for glitch hunters. Instead, they derive their satisfaction from the process of experimentation. And uncovering innovative ways to create unexpected outcomes within the game. But they meticulously document their findings in intricate detail. This allows the wider speedrunning community to replicate and build upon their discoveries.
A Growing Community
The speedrunning community of Tears of the Kingdom is characterized by an immense passion, creativity, and unwavering dedication. This group of individuals is determined to embody the spirit of freedom and experimentation that is already inherent in recent Zelda games.
The community’s influence is evident in the increasing number of players. These have enthusiastically embraced speedrunning, indicating that its momentum continues to surge without any indications of deceleration.
Tauktes, a 15-year-old German high schooler, says he began glitch hunting only a few weeks ago, but it’s quickly become an obsession.
“Glitch hunting was something I did on my own in Breath of the Wild, but I never reported anything. Now I’m documenting a lot of stuff. I did, probably, over 60 or 70 percent of the spreadsheet!”
KatyMay, a seasoned Zelda speedrunner with over 10 years of experience, recalls how she first came across Zelda speedruns while browsing Twitch. Intrigued by the concept, she decided to give it a try and quickly became captivated by the world of speedrunning. Since that initial encounter, KatyMay has remained dedicated to the pursuit of speedrunning and has never looked back.
After a day on the conference floor, Gymnast sums up the feelings of many speedrunners and glitch hunters well.
“Speedrunning has allowed me to continuously enjoy each of these games for thousands of hours, and it’s still going. The replayability is practically infinite. Since the games will change over time depending on what glitches and techniques people find causing the speedrun times to get lower and lower, and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.”