A new Elden Ring patch has blown in on the wind, bringing performance fixes along with buffs and nerfs to spells and skills. Among the casualties is the stupidly powerful Hoarfrost Stomp Ash of War that players—especially speedrunners—had been using to destroy bosses and beat the game in under half an hour.
Seeing the beloved stomp brought low, one of the current top speedrunners for Elden Ring tweeted "RIP Elden Ring speedruns," but don't worry, this one nerfed spell definitely isn't putting a stop to Elden Ring speedruns. It's a speedbump, at worst, and maybe even a ramp into more ridiculous strats.
Rip Elden Ring Speedruns pic.twitter.com/cHzI91yEBXMarch 17, 2022
Distortion2, current holder of the record 28:29 minute any% speedrun for Elden Ring, was likely joking, of course. I can confidently promise that nothing stops speedrunners, certainly no single patch. I don't blame Distortion for lamenting the nerf on this particular trick though.
Regole, another Elden Ring speedrunner and a Speedsouls moderator, explained to me that this is a pretty significant setback, at least for now.
"The nerf to the Stomp Ash of War itself isn't the primary issue," he says, "but [FromSoftware] also fixing the glitched utilization of Royal Knight's Resolve that allowed you to transfer the large damage buff to your Icerind Hatchet." This Royal Knight's Resolve exploit is what was actually powering all that high damage ice hatchet stomping. Every current route for speedrunning Elden Ring relied on that exploit.
"The truth, however, is that at least for now, Hoarfrost Stomp isn't going anywhere," Regole says. As he points out, speedrunners for all Souls games don't necessarily use the latest patch. "Downpatching" or rolling back to an earlier game version, is a routine part of speedrunning plenty of games. If patch 1.02 with the Royal Knight’s Resolve exploit remains the fastest way to beat the game, that's the one that speedrunners will use to compete for records on Speedrun.com when submissions open on March 25.
After the patch notes, the Speedsouls community Discord has been a flurry with suggestions for alternatives to the boss-melting Hoarfrost Stomp. Regole suggests that other weapons like the gnarly Reduvia dagger or Blasphemous Blade, which are convenient to upgrade could become new favorites.
"Maybe someone will find something that is even faster than what we were doing previously," Regole says. "Not just a different weapon, but perhaps even entirely new glitches that weren't possible or undiscovered on previous patches of the game."
It's still early days for Elden Ring speedrunning, really. More patches will come. New exploits will surface. Speedrunners will be digging up new tricks in this one for years yet. If they do come up with even more broken ways of thrashing bosses than the dominant ice stomp, I can't wait to see them.