Gamers have been doing speedruns of their favorite games since the days of the original DOOM. It’s a long-honored tradition that showcases both skill and determination, and serves to differentiate the hardcore from the really super-duper hardcore.
For those not in the know, a “speedrun” is when someone plays a game with the goal of finishing it as fast as possible. While it sounds simple enough, decades of dedicated gamers have refined it to something akin to an art form. Master speedrunners know how to use bugs and exploits within the game to move faster, destroy enemies more efficiently, and even skip whole portions of the game. Every move is meticulously calculated to shave precious seconds off the game’s runtime on the way to another record.
Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s get down to the issue at hand: Can you speedrun MMOs, and if so, should you?
MMOs are sprawling adventures that can virtually go on and on. That fact alone seems to be enough to answer our question. How can you speedrun a game that never ends? You might be able to complete certain quests quickly, reach the level cap at lightning speed, or rocket up the leaderboards, but you will never ever stop that clock from running, as there is always more to do and accomplish. However, no one said you have to actually speedrun a game until the very end.
If we think of it that way, then MMOs are pretty perfect for speedrunners. Instead of going through the whole thing, MMOs can be broken down into single quests, story-arcs or even certain achievements, thus transforming any one MMO into dozens of separate speedruns. Of course, it is still possible to speedrun entire MMORPGs, since most of them have some sort of main story-arc that does indeed have an end - until the next expansion is released, that is.
MMORTSs, or online strategy games, are a bit different. While some of them do have some sort of single-player campaign, advancing in this campaign requires a lot of effort in between missions - work that can’t be done in hours, or even days. Since these games are more about the thrill of conquest, and not a complex story-arc, speedrunners can focus on achieving specific goals in the shortest time possible. Reaching a certain level, building the perfect Castle, and maybe even ascending to an important role in their Clan. Strategy games bring a whole set of new challenges for the speedrunner, since it’s not always about just being fast or knowing the ins-and-outs of the game. It’s also about knowing people, and how to work with them or outsmart them.
Now that we know we can, in fact, speedrun MMOs, the questions is - should we? Personally, I say everyone should play the game in the way they most enjoy it. However, I still think that blazing through MMOs, especially MMORPGS, is kind of missing the point. Epic games usually come with an epic story, filled with truly breath-taking moments, so speeding through them could ruin the whole experience. However, since speedrunners usually complete multiple runs in an attempt to reach the best time possible, I guess that they could always take the first time slowly and enjoy everything the game has to offer.
Overall, I would say that speedrunning other online games, especially online shooters or MOBAs is much more rewarding to a runner seeking to show off their skills. These game require the fast reflexes and deep knowledge of gameplay mechanics speedrunners love to boast about. However, that isn’t to say you shouldn’t try and speedrun an MMO or an online strategy game if you are looking for a different kind of challenge.