For the average player, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will take more than 50 hours to beat, i.e. complete the game’s main storyline and save Hyrule. In the speedrunning community? Just over 60 minutes. For regular players, conquer tears of the kingdom is a matter of diligence, patience and creative craft. For speedrunners, it’s about using every tool at their disposal to push the boundaries of what the latest Zelda will allow. It’s a strategy game where each player competes to work faster and smarter.
The first to claim victory, Carl Wernicke, who passes Gymnast86 online, hails from the United States and set his community record with a time of 1:34:33. For a decade it has been trying to beat Zelda games as fast as possible. “It’s a completely different experience than playing the game casually, and it’s possible to do both,” Wernicke says. “I have enjoyed my occasional exploration of the game very much and will probably continue to enjoy it when I travel to [completely] finish it.
In a video posted on May 12, which he (rightly) says will soon be outdated, Wernicke gives players a brief explanation of how he pulled off his record. He explains what weapons he researched, what pieces he had to attach using the game fuse tool, and how he defeated each boss. Familiar glitches from the latest game, breath of the wild, aren’t present here, meaning Wernicke runs his course without playing any issues or using Amiibo to unlock useful rewards, like weapons or the trusty steed Epona. Instead, the time he spent refining his route was mostly spent on boss battles – how to tackle each one “in a way that would yield decently consistent results without sacrificing too much time.”
But there is one thing Wernicke wants to clarify. “By far the biggest misunderstanding is that I had to do this run right out of the game with no prior training or forethought,” he says. “While that’s very impressive, it just isn’t.”
Wernicke had already dived about 35 hours in tears of the kingdom when he passed his race. Not only did he play a leaked version of the game, but he also bought it through the Australian eshop to get ahead of some players, and he bought a physical copy to understand load times between formats. The fact that the game is a sequel also worked in its favor. “I didn’t have to get used to a fundamentally different system to move well in this game,” he says. The core mechanics and controls were already outdated.
tears of the kingdom Director Hidemaro Fujibayashi said the team expected players to try to circumvent the path laid out for them. If a player found a way to dive straight into Hyrule Castle, for example, it could break the game. While it’s possible someone will achieve it, says Fujibayashi, it’s “still within the realm of what we anticipated as a potential outcome.” We made the game so he wouldn’t completely break it, but that’s, I think, a potential spot.