It took a little over a week for someone to speed up Elden Ring. But the race to the fastest time had only just begun.
The first recorded speed run lasted just under two and a half hours. Two days later, the game was completed in less than an hour. As soon as it was included once, it was beaten. In April it was ready in less than ten minutes.
Speedrunning from a game like Elden Ring, with its gloriously dreary open world, never really appealed to me. I am a diligent player. Instead of rushing, I like to savor every grim discovery, every gruesome foe. I make my own rules and complete each area of the map before continuing; not entering the morbidly pervasive Caelid until every dusty nook and cranny of the Raya Lucaria Academy had been explored.
Therefore, my first playthrough took over 110 hours.
But Elden Ring has proven to inspire players throughout the year, with a host of creative and unique ways to play that go beyond speedrunning.
Take Let Me Solo Her, a community icon who single-handedly defeated the game’s most notorious boss – Malenia – on behalf of defeated players a thousand times. While so many struggle with the challenge of FromSoftware’s games, one player took our collective frustration on his shoulders. Publisher Bandai Namco even presented them with a sword for their service.
Other players took control to the next level. One streamer completed the game with just one hand, beating every boss without improving her character. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, she did it again with a dance mat. And then she played with hands and feet at the same time.
Another brave Tarnished made music while playing and released a video of her beating Margit with a harp. It may not be melodically interesting, but the synergy of player and instrument is a whole new kind of music.
Known for its creative custom controllers, Rudeism decided to play Elden Ring with a modified Fisher Price toy controller that made silly noises to contrast with the bloody action. Another well-known modder, Super Louis 64, not only played the game with a Ring Fit controller to sweat through The Lands Between, but also played the game with a banana. How attractive.
FromSoftware’s games are known for their difficulty – indeed, Elden Ring has been rightly criticized for its lack of accessibility options – but opening up the world has opened the game up to many more players and inspired so many new ways to play.
And what a spectacular world it is. As you emerge from a catacomb at the start of the game, the hills roll out before revealing a myriad of diabolical, but often strikingly beautiful bosses to defeat. The first area complete, you look out over a lake of midnight blue bathed in moonlight, the gothic spiers of the magic academy jutting tantalizingly into the distance.
But the real wow moment for me was when I first fell into a well. This was not just any catacomb. Stepping underground under an iridescent starry sky, I realized that the already imposing map had a whole new layer to explore. I couldn’t wait to see more.
Isn’t this all the fun of an open world game? Elden Ring is a dark fantasy sandbox and there’s room for everyone no matter how you want to play: whether you’re minutely beating every boss or playing through with a banana. FromSoftware’s epic gives players the freedom to make their own rules – or break them entirely.