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Breath of the Wild fan pulls off perfect, no-damage run after 100+ tries

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Yes, that means every single Korok seed

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Link and a black horse Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo

There is no force on Earth more patient than a video game speedrunner. In late January, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild expert joedun became the first person to ever complete a 100% speedrun of the game while taking zero damage, and while that’s a feat unto itself, the road there was grueling.

A 100% speedrun really does mean everything. You need to beat the game, yes, but you also need to collect all container upgrades, finish your adventure log, find all 900 Korok seeds, obtain all the key items, and fully upgrade every permanent weapon and armor — along with standard things, like beating every shrine.

And you need to do all of that without taking a single hit to your health points. In a game where it’s extremely easy to hurt yourself just trying to stasis a random object into the air, such a challenge might sound impossible.

For a while, it was. Joedun told Polygon that it took months of failed tries to get his first official clear. When he finally pulled it off, his chat erupted in a sea of “EZ Clap” messages.

“The most challenging aspect was definitely never giving up,” he said in an email. “You see, I failed that run 100+ times, with 3 of those times being 30+ hours in. To keep pushing myself to not give up and not let the game beat me was definitely the hardest.”

Imagine spending dozens of hours on a save file only to have to abort it entirely because of some happenstance of bad luck. There was one time, Joedun recalled, about 33 hours into an attempt, where he was trying to get some dragon pieces from Farosh. The farming area is full of Chu Chus, which drop jellies after being killed. These jellies can become charged with an element. In this scenario, Joe Dun defeated the Chu Chu just fine, but then he went into a cave with Electric Keese in it. You can probably see where this is going.

“So some of the Keese start chasing me,” he recalled. “It isn't a big deal, I just shoot them and carry on. Well, it just so happens that when shooting at them, they were hovering over the jelly, which then changes to electric jelly.

“Then with the weird BOTW laws it triggers the jelly to send an electric arc as soon as I kill the Keese, which connects to my arrow, then to my bow, and then eventually Link.”

Link only lost a quarter of a heart. But that’s all it takes to get disqualified.

In the clip, Joedun immediately pauses the game and grabs his face. It’s flush with disbelief; the chat is horrified. He had, at that point, collected over 800 Korok seeds and killed nearly 70 bosses, and it didn’t matter. Back to the start it was.

Why go through such trouble? It’s a good way to pass the time right now, he told Polygon.

“I got plenty of time because of the pandemic, and I’ve learned tons of things about the game, so why not put myself in the ultimate Breath of the Wild test?” he said.

Joedun isn’t the first person to attempt the challenge; he picked it up after other runners had a go at it. He hopes that now that a record has been set — 31 hours, 58 minutes, and 9 seconds — someone might contest him for the crown. But he’s not sitting idly by waiting for that to happen. Instead, Joedun is already planning even more grueling versions of the speedrun. He’ll try it again with The Masters Trials downloadable content installed, which is more difficult than the base game.

Eventually, Joedun wants to try his hand at completing a 100% damageless run with no glitches at all. One can only wonder how long this might take, given that glitches are a big part of his current world record. Despite using things like duping items and moon jumping — which allows for infinite height — the 100% damageless run still took dozens of hours. But hey, that’s part of the fun.

“If people want to one-up me, that would be awesome!” he said. “I would love to see more and more people get into the speedrun side of BOTW. The community is wonderful and always open to new people.”