To the average viewer, the antics of speedrunners inspire awe. For those unfamiliar with the concept, speedrunners try to beat games in as little time as possible, taking advantage of skills, glitches, and community support to test the limits of the games they play. A skilled speedrunner can cut a large sprawling game like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which normally takes around 50 hours to beat, down to a mere 30-minute sprint.
What makes the top runs entertaining isn’t just that these players flex technical prowess, although it is always fun to watch someone good enough at fighting to beat the final boss in Link’s underwear. It’s that they change how we see the world of the game itself. By watching them play, we can see that Hyrule Castle isn’t some impregnable fortress. Its walls are made of code, not stone, and as a result, the best players can simply glitch their way through to expose a vast interior space filled with absolutely nothing. A tool like a bomb isn’t used to blow up walls and enemies, but to soar across the entirety of Hyrule with a flick of Link’s hand.
Because of new discoveries and people improving their craft, speedrunning in Breath of the Wild is constantly changing. This list will round up the top Breath of the Wild speedruns as of spring 2022, but we will occasionally update it as new runs emerge. To make it more specific, we’ll only look at “any%” world records, meaning that players are able to use any glitch at their disposal to beat the game from start to finish, without needing to complete any of the tasks that you would for some of the other run categories (like All Dungeons, All Main Quests, 100%, etc.). Here are the five fastest Breath of the Wild any% speedruns.
Run date: Feb. 21, 2022
Run time: 24:27.267
Speedrunner Player5 set the world record for the fastest any% speedrun of Breath of the Wild just last month. One might expect that the world’s fastest speedrun for a game this popular might feel like a big thing, but what I like about it is how casual it all feels. Starting out, the streamer talks about school, and how it’s annoying that they have homework due during a holiday. Then, just over halfway through, the run takes a dramatic turn when they save a significant amount of time on the castle segment of the run. In their own words, Player 5 said they could have saved some more time on some sections, like the final boss Blights, but in the end the castle portion was so quick, it saved enough time to make it the fastest run in the world. The final run clocks in at 24:27.267, making it the fastest any% run at time of publication.
Run date: Feb. 8, 2022
Run time: 25:18.200
The world’s second fastest run is currently held by a streamer known as Koroks, named after the adorable tree-like creatures that populate certain Zelda games. What defined this run was an exceptional series of boss fights at the end. In it, they make the most out of their giant claymores, managing to eke out loads of hits on the series of Ganon forms called the Blights. In the end, the run clocked in at 25:18.200, just under a minute away from the top run.
Run date: Jan. 27, 2022
Run time: 25:21.700
Although Breath of the Wild is an open-world game, players haven’t found a way to skip its rather hefty tutorial section, where players have to visit four shrines to unlock all the powers of Link’s Sheikah Slate. The third-fastest run in the world, held by Majestic, navigates this section beautifully. To accomplish it, Majestic — like many other streamers who take the same route — uses a technique that allows Link to fly through the air by exploiting a glitch as he holds a bomb. Majestic completed the entirety of the Great Plateau Region in 13:17, which carried the run to the spot of the third-fastest in the world.
Run date: Feb. 25, 2022
Run time: 25:22.667
Something I love about speedrunning is how quiet many of the runs are. Whereas many streamers emphasize loud and bold reactions to gameplay, many speedrunners remain silent and extremely focused. The fourth-fastest run in the world, from Sr Tapir, features quiet commentary over what ends up as an impressive run. Upon entering Hyrule Castle, they didn’t think this would be a good run; then turned it around and clocked in as the fourth fastest in the world. The joy in watching this run came from hearing Sr Tapir go back and forth about whether or not the run would turn out any good, ultimately sticking through it to land a good time.
Run date: Feb. 28, 2022
Run time: 25:30
Player5 is one of the very best Breath of the Wild speedrunners, so it seems fitting that they round out this list on both ends. At time of publication, Player5 holds both the world record and the spot for fifth-fastest any% speedrun in the world. While it’s not a world record, this run is nice because it layers an impressive attempt over helpful commentary, in which Player5 tells listeners more about which version of the game is best to speedrun. Although this run wasn’t fully optimized, they ended up clocking in at an impressively short 25 minutes and 30 seconds.