For most people, beating Fallout 4 means sinking dozens of hours into the game — and that's just sticking to the main story missions. Speedrunners, however, have figured out how to beat the game in just a little over an hour. It's incredible.
Right now, there's actually a world record for beating the game fast: 1:09:29, to be exact, done in the "any percentage" category of speedruns. The time was achieved by known Fallout 3 speedrunner, BubblesDelFuego, a full-time university student who has been speedrunning for five years now. You can watch his playthrough below. Note that the timer starts when the character begins movement, which is about 3.5 seconds after he selects his character:
[Warning: some of the run has some heated clashes with his roomates.]
The run is done on the 'very easy' difficulty, with a character speccing for max agility and endurance. As for perks, BubblesDelFuego tags Action Boy earlier on, something which regenerates his Action Points quickly. Together, these attributes create a character who has a lot of stamina to sprint across the Commonwealth, along with enough HP to survive incoming attacks.
And here's the route that BubblesDelFuego takes during his run, roughly:
At first, there doesn't seem to be anything unusual about the run. BubblesDelFuego speeds through dialogue, and hauls arse into Vault 111. Innocuous enough! ...and then the glitches start. Completing the game quickly means taking advantage of a number of curious exploits within the game, many of which BubblesDelFuego details here:
The first exploit is simple: 'quick reload'. Basically, after hotkeying two different weapons, the player can swap between them to reload faster, without having to go through the entire reloading animation. Done quickly enough, the player can essentially shoot endlessly, without ever having to reload.
Another glitch described in the video is 'item climbing', something which you see early on in the actual run. The way it works is, you can hold an item, like say a bucket, and angle it in such a way that it lets you walk backwards up a wall, like so:
In certain places, doing item climbing also lets the player clip through walls, which is useful for skipping entire sections at a time.
Another big glitch used to speedrun Fallout 4 is 'Power Armour clipping'. Get this: if you stand in front of a wall in third person while wearing Power Armour, eject from the armour, and then immediately go back into the armour, the game will load you through the wall you were standing in front of — WITH the Power Armour, to boot.
The craziest glitch, in my opinion at least, has to be 'cover slides'.
First, you use the cover mechanic to aim behind cover. While popping out behind cover, you can then go into third person. This allows you to then let go of the sights, without actually doing the animation for getting out of cover — this, in turn, lets you run around as you wish. From there, if you then go back into first person, the character will teleport back to where they originally took cover, without actually having to run back there.
On its own, it's not a terribly useful glitch — it's theoretically useful, sure, but that's about it at the moment. Where things get really interesting, however, is if you perform the cover part of the glitch indoors, go outside, and then go back into first person outdoors. BubblesDelFuego does so after clearing out Concord and saving the Minutemen, and the glitch flings his character to the center of the ENTIRE overworld map. BubblesDelFuego even pops some Jet in the middle of this glitch, which allows him to throw his character even further than usual. He goes from standing in Concord, to suddenly falling right outside of Greenetech Genetics, without having to actually walk there. It's astounding.
You may be wondering, well, if the player can cross such a great distance without having to play through it, why bother going through Concord and saving the Minutemen at all? Why not just immediately go to the center of the map, which puts you closer to the main quest? Well, the only way to survive the cover slide teleportation is with Power Armour — the glitch drops you from the sky at a great height. Dangerous!
After landing at Greenetech Genetics, BubblesDelFuego makes his way to a nearby underwater pipe. This is actually a locale that's a part of a main quest with the Minutemen. Under normal circumstances, just being in that location doesn't do anything for the player — you must go through the introductory quests first. However, speedrunners have figured out that if you go to this sewer and use Power Armour clipping, you can force the game to load the final quest for that area. It's ridiculous and fascinating.
Thing is, forcing the game to put you on the final quest doesn't mean you suddenly just have access to the Institute. That's why you see BubblesDelFuego going from launching the final quest, to doing some of the earlier main quest missions: he has to build the teleporter that will get him inside the Institute. Once he gets there, however, he can just do the final quest stuff instead of having to sit through the big reveal that normally happens on your first visit to the Institute.
Those are the bigger, flashier portions of the speedrun — but the rest of it is pretty fantastic, too. Throughout, you watch BubblesDelFuego running straight past things, including fearsome Deathclaws and the highly toxic Glowing Sea, without much gear or firepower to protect himself. Somehow, though, he manages to survive through it all. My favourite part, however, is watching BubblesDelFuego repeatedly shoot Nick Valentine in the face — doing so actually lets him skip lines of dialogue, thus moving the game faster. A close runner-up moment, though, is seeing how even speedrunners have to dip their toes into Preston Garvey's bullshit settlement stuff. It's the only way to get Sturges to build the Institute Teleporter!
Maybe it seems unbelievable that anyone has figured out how to beat the game this quickly, but in actuality, everything discovered about Fallout 4 thus far has been a team effort.
"A team of myself, [as well as speedrunners known as] Arctice, DrTChops, DTPhase, Zelfie, Dalleth, Zuo and many others have been working on the game since a few days post-release," BubblesDelFuego told me in an email. "Every day for the first two weeks, [we have discovered] an entire route that was different than the last."
So, how do they do it, then? BubblesDelFuego tells me that, amazingly enough, many of the glitches used for speedruns like this are actually discovered accidentally, and can often take days to figure out how to best optimise any glitch they find.
Sometimes, though, speedrunners discover glitches by attempting to recreate glitches that existed in prior games made in the same engine — in this case, Skyrim, Fallout 3, and Oblivion.
"The most surprising thing about speedrunning Fallout 4 is how Bethesda hasn't learned from past mistakes," BubblesDelFuego said. "Many [old] glitches are still relevant and abused." One such glitch is called Load Warping, and it's an exploit that allows the player to skip a lot of travel by messing with quick and hard saves. Load Warping made its debut in Oblivion, but wasn't present in Fallout 3 and New Vegas. For whatever reason, though, it's made a comeback in Fallout 4. Good thing, too: it's useful for speedrunners.
"I soon grew bored of going slow."
Beyond using exploits, speedrunners like BubblesDelFuego also have to figure out the most optimal route. This means figuring out what, at minimum, the game needs you to do in order to beat it.
"We work our way backwards in a speedrun, doing the least amount as possible," BubblesDelFuego said. "If we do something, like shopping, it's to speed up the necessary parts. There's always the battle of loss and gain in terms of time. For example, it takes about 2-3 seconds to level up and get the Action Boy perk, but it can save minutes overall.
"When a game isn't routed, the first step is to just beat the game as fast as you can. Afterwards, have a mental checklist of flags the game needs to have waved to clear the story."
Right now, Fallout 4 speedrunning is still in its early days. A little over an hour may seem fast for a game that often takes 100+ hours for players to beat, but BubblesDelFuego seems certain that eventually, they will figure out how to beat the game in 45-55 minutes. It will take a lot of work, of course.
For most players, approaching the game in a methodical way like this might suck the fun out of it, but for speedrunners like BubblesDelFuego, it's the only way they know how to play.
"I have 145 hours in Fallout 4, according to Steam, and about 30 was put towards a casual playthrough," BubblesDelFuego said. "I soon grew bored of going slow."
"I'm just a very impatient player," BubblesDelFuego confessed. "Speedrunning is a passion, and breaking the work of an entire development team is so much fun. I love providing entertainment in this form, and going fast in video games is my specialty, especially games where there is no intention of going fast.
"A game is a canvas, and the fun we have with it is the picture we paint."
BubblesDelFuego can be found on Twitch here, and on Twitter here. And, if you'd like to read up some more on what he's doing with Fallout 4, you should make sure to read his FAQ here, or his speedrun notes here.