Games achieve immortality in different ways. Some use endless exploration to keep players turning over every rock for years to come, some create harder and harder modes to challenge players' mechanical skills, others foster a competitive scene that shepherds the game into new eras. Breath of the Wild, though, is following in the footsteps of Nintendo's other Instant Classics, like Super Mario 64 and GoldenEye, and achieving immortality by providing an endless parade of exploitable glitches. 

Since it dropped in 2017, Breath of the Wild's gorgeous landscapes and incredible characters have patiently suffered through the diligent assault of speedrunners around the world. Things that seem EarthHyrule-shattering one year are quaint tricks the next. On average, the speedrunning community is shaving off 4 minutes per year from the fastest time to beat the game, but when you see the progression in tricks, you'll be amazed it's not faster ...

Movement

Breath of the Wild's staple is its breathtaking and gigantic map. Walking from one end to the other without delays would take at least 35 minutes on a perfectly straight path. Speedrunners, obviously, needed to find ways to get around this world quickly and using as few resources as possible. These glitches helped them sprint, climb, and catapult their way past all the fun parts of the game.

Whistle Sprinting

The first movement glitch was found two days after the game's release. On March 5th, 2017, Zayloox posted a clip on Twitter of them holding down the whistle button and mashing sprint in order to run at full speed without losing stamina. In fact, running this way allows you to recover stamina and scale steep cliff faces very easily. The best summary of this glitch is by Zayloox, who captioned the video, "Dumb af, faster than sprinting infinite stamina."
Hold down on the d-pad and mash B. Congratulations, you're a hacker now.

Hold down on the d-pad and mash B. Congratulations, you’re a hacker now.

Shield Skew Clipping

Also on March 5th, gymnast86 introduced the idea of shield skew clipping. What the heck is that? Basically, when you shield surf on any surface, Breath of the Wild stores a "skew" value—the angle that Link should stand at to look cool surfing on that particular surface. If you shield surf on a slope that's too steep for Link to surf on he'll instantly put away his shield, but the game will store a massive skew value. The next time you shield surf, if you put away your shield just before it hits a surface, Link will suddenly be placed at his skew angle for a couple of frames before snapping back to his default standing angle.

If you use this on a wall such that the skew angle Link is briefly at puts his feet on the other side of the wall, Link will "clip" through the wall, as the game engine sees his feet on one side of the wall and his head on the other and puts his head over his feet automatically.

This glitch is used to skip major areas of the game, shrines, and trials, as well as to avoid circumnavigating large obstacles. Trying this one is pretty hard, so you may not get it your first time—here's a good guide:

Stasis Launching

The stasis rune turns out to be one of the more busted parts of the game, as stopping time for one object is a pretty busted thing to do.
Stasis launching surfaced in the first week of the game's release and is pretty straightforward. Using the stasis rune on something you can grab, hit it in the direction you want to go, then grab on. At any point, you can let go of the object and start paragliding. Technically this isn't a glitch, but it's going to come up as the foundation for a glitch later, so we need to get the basics out of the way now.

Super Launching

In the early history of the game, some Stasis Launches seemed to be much faster than others, allowing Link to go way farther than expected. It took a while for speedrunners to figure out what was going on, and although a staple of the speedrunning community, this glitch is pretty hard for an amateur to pull off.

Breath of the Wild will lag a bit sometimes when too many things are onscreen at once. It turns out if you pull out the paraglider during a frame that's experiencing a lot of lag, you get a LOT more distance out of your stasis launch.

Bullet Time Bounce

For over a year, Stasis Launches and Super Launches were the way for the busy speedrunner to navigate the Breath of the Wild map quickly. But then TeddyP changed the whole game by showing off a new technique called Bullet Time Bounces, which moves Link way farther, way faster, and looks way cooler.

Bullet Time Bounces are achieved by shield surfing onto an enemy in a ragdoll state while you're in bullet time. Basically, if you can goomba hop onto an enemy while they're hit or frozen, and you're shield surfing with your bow out, you're propelled up and away from the point of impact, and if you do a shield spin as you start, you'll fly with more speed than any super launch. Spoilers for The Matrix Resurrections:

Moon Running

Discovered in mid-2019, Moon Running allows players infinite jumping, which opens up a lot of vertical space on the map. If you do the mounted archery minigame but mount a wild horse, Link gets stuck in a weird state, which allows him to jump upwards and take his time falling back down. It's also funny to look at, which is nice:

Windbombing

Windbombing is another kind of launch that can be performed anywhere at any angle, making it extremely versatile and valuable. If you open up any Breath of the Wild speedrunning these days, you'll see Windbombing all over.

The basic idea is simple—if you drop a bomb in front of another bomb that's exploding, the explosion will push the second bomb into you at VERY high speeds and launch you in whatever direction the bomb pushed you towards. This means once you have the bomb rune, you can essentially go wherever you want without worrying about slapping stasis'ed objects or finding input lag.

BLS Slide

Bow Lift Smuggle Sliding came out just this month and could have a huge impact on Breath of the Wild speedrunning. Bow Lift Smuggle Sliding, or BLS Sliding, depends on a previous glitch that didn't seem particularly powerful—Smuggling. Smuggling allowed players to hold things they shouldn't be holding—maybe a two-handed barrel would be in one hand, or you'd have your shield and bow out at the same time. Getting your shield in one hand and your bow in the other is called Bow Smuggling since you've Smuggled the bow into your offhand when it shouldn't be there. The Lift part of Bow Lift Smuggling is that instead of having a shield in your offhand, you perform a bow smuggle into a Lift Item smuggle, meaning that you're now holding a bow and something else (not your shield).

So now you've smuggled two things. Mazel, I'll let Jack Sparrow and Han Solo know. Who cares? No one! That is not until you walk over a very small ledge and hold B. If you've done everything correctly, you'll be hovering in mid-air, and the object you smuggled into your other hand will propel you around the world. You gain speed every time you wiggle the control stick, and it looks weird as hell.

Because it's relatively easy to perform (for superhuman speedrunners), requires very few resources, and gives you perfect movement around the map, BLS Sliding seems ripe for pushing speedruns into a whole new strata.

Combat

Even the pros have to get their hands dirty once in a while, but they've gotten a little more sophisticated than parrying, slashing, and blocking. The combat techniques that speedrunners use vary from advantageous to outright cheating. But hey, all's fair in love and war.

Shield Block Reset

Discovered one week after the game's release, Shield Block Reset, much like trying to understand Zelda's timeline, is a simple idea that's hard to execute. Basically, if you shield against damage while jumping, you will be launched a little bit upwards, and your jump is reset, allowing you to jump again in the air. What's most important about this your second jump will give you the ability to enter bullet time—the holy grail of Zelda combat. Being able to get into bullet time from the ground for no cost is a great deal and instrumental in the fights that speedrunners have to take.

Daruk’s Perfect Parry

One of the biggest combat tricks in Breath of the Wild allows you to use Daruk's Protection (a shield that negates all damage that you get from one of the 4 bosses) without expending any of its three charges. Saying how to do this glitch is slightly easier than doing it. See, to do a Daruk's Perfect Parry, you just have to parry an incoming enemy attack. Except instead of the usual timing of the parry, you'll have just 2 frames—about 1/10th of a second—to release the block button after blocking.

Despite its high skill cap, this technique is widely used and can negate any damage, not just attacks. You can use it to fall without taking damage, avoid damage from your own bombs, and block guardian shots.

Bow Spin

Another interesting combat technique was found in the same year, which is much easier to pull off. Basically, if you start spinning a heavy weapon, then take out your bow while spinning, the game equips the bow but keeps dealing damage as though you have the heavy weapon equipped.

While for scrubs like me, this is exciting in its own right, it didn't spark any interest in the speedrunning community until Rinhara5aki realized it could be used with ice and thunder blades to create chaining ice and thunder effects. For ice, this also meant that you could completely freeze enemies and never let them unfreeze while you killed them ...

Boss Skipping

The best way to beat the last boss of the game is not to fight him at all. On November 7th, 2019, Bot__W found a way to completely sidestep the Windblight and Calamity Ganon fights, and it is hilarious. If you fire an arrow just before fighting the boss, the arrow will be suspended in midair during the boss' introduction cutscene … and it will continuously do damage to that boss. This means if you know where to shoot the arrow, you can kill the boss before its intro is even done.

Magic

I’m not talking about some mana bar or rune in this segment. This is for glitches that break the game so completely they cease to be exploits of functions in the game and become computer science rituals performed to invoke unusual states. How humans discover these kinds of exploits using only their switch controller I will never understand. If you want glitches that make you scratch your head, these are the ones for you.

Menu Overloading

Menu Overloading is essentially creating a problem for the game where it has no idea what you have equipped—one thing will be equipped in your menu, but you'll be holding a different thing in the game world. This state is called equipment desync. This seems like something that doesn't matter—so what? I'm holding a korok leaf, but the game thinks I'm holding a royal guard sword. Big whoop.

And it wouldn't matter much, except lots of the game's logic depends on checking whatever you have equipped's stats (found through the menu) but respecting the physicality of what you're holding in the game. That means equipment desync is the basis for creating duplicates of any weapons, shields, or bows, can be used to give you infinite gems, and will allow you to transfer durability between items.

How does it work? Well, I've watched tons of videos, read loads of explanations, and basically, what I can tell you is—if you put shock arrows on too many multibows in a row, the start menu loses its mind. I have a degree in computer science, and the smartest thing I can say about this is, "maybe it's a pointer error?" But to be frank, I have no clue why equipping and dropping bows will convince the game to give up on tracking what I'm holding in my hand. All I know is it's a wildly powerful glitch.

Shrine Apparatus Storage

Everyone who's played through Breath of the Wild wants the same thing, and it's disgusting: Max hearts and stamina. All the health one body can hold. The quest for this in-game fountain of youth led to the discovery of one of the strangest, most powerful glitches in Breath of the Wild.

To put it "simply," if you enter an apparatus shrine, use a quick series of inputs to glitch the game into letting you see the camera overlay on your regular game, activate the apparatus, pause the game, hold things, pause and unpause the game, and then view a memory, the game will not play the memory because it's just as confused as you are. You can then load any save file and preserve a lot of odd game settings. But in your loaded game, you'll also be in a state where the game believes you're still in a shrine—making you immune to all weather and elemental damage and unable to use your paraglider.

See? It's easy to be a BotW speedrunner. All you have to do is master arcane inputs, memorize particular arrow shots, become a menu maestro, and learn to smuggle. No problem. Of course, that's all you have to know and master so far. Next year you'll have to learn new tricks and be about 4 minutes faster.

Huge shout out to Max “RinHara5aki” Blumenthal whose histories and explanations of Breath of the Wild glitches were enormously helpful for understanding the basics and knowing what rabbit holes to stick my head down. If you want to learn more, I definitely recommend his great video series.

Top image: Nintendo

Get Spooky!

It's Halloween week in One Cracked Fact! Subscribe now so you don't miss the weird tales of ghouls, ghosts, and all things spooky!

Forgot Password?