Speedrunning is a catch-all term that, as games themselves have grown in audience and scale, now applies to everything from fastest completion times on 2D platformers to slightly unhinged self-imposed challenges with any game going. This Fallout 4 speedrun certainly falls into the latter category, to the extent you may find yourself wondering how the heroic Vrexia ever came up with the idea in the first place.
Explaining this thing needs its own paragraph. The run is permadeath as well as no-hit, meaning Vrexia runs a mod that will cause even the tiniest bit of damage to kill their character (in a previous run he was killed by a microscope falling off a desk). It is also 100% completion, including the game's DLCs, meaning Vrexia has to complete all quests, collect all Fallout Boy bobbleheads, magazines, Nuka-cola recipes, and unlock all followers and settlements. Just to make things even more fun, Vrexia banned himself from using legendary weapons and armor, and all drugs barring antibiotics are banned for good measure.
If I was set this challenge I would never complete it: in fact, I wouldn't even get out of the first hour. But for whatever reason the near-impossibility of completing the game under these conditions struck Vrexia as a personal affront, and he has spent the last two-and-a-half years on-and-off attempting to master it. Along the way he was sometimes killed by scenery glitches ("invisible Wasteland Lego") while just walking along, bugs that bounced him into the sky, and, on one agonising occasion, he reached 99.5% completion before dying on the last mission.
Vrexia had in fact announced his intention to move on, and focus on streaming other games. But there's nothing like one last try. At the start of October, and with a nod to PCSX2 developer refractionpcsx2 for tipping us off, Vrexia finally did it.
While those ICBMs keep us free...
This is, it almost goes without saying, a world first. It's also probably going to be a world last. Vrexia achieved this with unremarkable equipment, basic clothing with a minor AP buff while running and standard weapons, and the successful run was timed at 52 hours, 20 minutes, and 23 seconds. The reaction of his chat, many of whom have followed the streamer on this quixotic journey, are a mix of hype, astonishment, and sheer respect for the achievement.
Vrexia has a bot that explains to confused viewers the exact conditions imposed on this run, which are as follows:
No VATS, power armor, armor, clothes with SPECIAL stats, legendary items, drugs, food/drink buffs, radiation removal, perks that outright prevent damage, hits from enemies or damage taken from any source including glitches.
The following are listed as the only exceptions, several of which are because the run would be legitimately impossible without their use:
Antibiotics. Clothes with only +END. Legendaries that are expected for quests (ex. Silver Shroud). Unavoidable rad removal in Mass Fusion & Mechanist Lair (rads must be regained to the same level ASAP after being removed).
Vrexia also chose the Institute ending for the game because, yes, it's the most challenging. I mean seriously: if you ever meet this guy, don't tell him he can't do something.
"So the idea for the run," says Vrexia, "was basically the evolution of doing progressively harder challenges. First I tried doing the game on survival, then without dying, then without being hit at all, then adding all these other restrictions on top."
Vrexia says he never found failure especially agonising "unless it was something I couldn't really learn from or improve, like a bug where the game just flings you into the sky and there’s nothing you can do about it."
I asked what Vrexia considers his funny deaths: "a scorpion disappeared, reappeared in the sky and fell on my head. I picked up a box and it slammed into my face killing me. I aimed my gun and got flung into the air and died by falling damage. Tripped on a tire and died."
Sounds like a Bethesda game alright. I ask Vrexia if it's true he once failed on a run right at the end: "I did lose a run at 99.5% and immediately started a new run… my community took it harder than me, I was happy to reach that point. The final mission is the hardest."
Vrexia reckons that, while the overall hours are not a fair estimation, "i spent 2 years 7 months on that run, lots of hours, it's mainly been my Twitch content… as for how it felt to achieve it, there was a rush when I first completed a No-Hit run, similar to when I went skydiving IRL, it's hard to match… subsequent No-Hit runs have not had that, but this last one recaptured it!"
"In fact, I was actually a bit speechless that I'd done it! I set a silly challenge initially, nothing like this, and loved it" says Vrexia. "That moment in the stream where you've actually done it is magic. You just see chat's reaction instantly, and moving forward, I'll still play some Fallout 4 now and then, but my real passion is retro gaming. I am going to get some sort of similar challenges going for retro games."
Following our interview, Vrexia reached out: he'd had to crunch the numbers. "2000ish hours, that's how many the latest run took. 13395 hours spent on the game total according to Steam: I had to calculate it, the curiosity!"
415 attempts, nearly 3 years of effort, and 13,395 total hours in Fallout 4. I can't even imagine it: can you? "It's not even debatable," wrote CaptainAwesome8 at the time, "this is by far the most challenging Fallout 4 run that will ever be completed."