Jeff vs. Sam II: The Skyrim Speedrun (updated)

“The speedrun is my World Cup or Olympics, it’s my favorite event that comes every three or four years.” – Todd Howard

As tradition goes, when Bethesda Game Studios is close to wrapping up development on a title, we hold a speedrun competition through the main quest (with no cheats allowed). While the game will take many hours to complete for a first-time players, our developers have years of experience under their belts and know all the ins and outs for speeding through the game. The contest pits the best Bethesda Game Studios has to offer vs. the best of QA The person with the best time wins a trophy and gets a pie of their choice from Todd Howard.

When it came time to crown the Skyrim champion, two familiar faces rose to the occasion: Sam “I Am” Bernstein (QA) and Jeff “Live the Dream” Browne (BGS) — the very same combatants from the Fallout 3 speedrun three years back. Loyal blog readers might recall I said the match was as close as Michael Phelps .01 second escape in the 2008 Summer Games.

If Fallout 3’s speed run was that close, the Skyrim contest was… well, I can’t think of something closer than that Michael Phelps race. But this one was crazier — crazy like the final minute of this year’s Michigan-Notre Dame game.

At the beginning of the Skyrim speedrun, I asked Sam how long he anticipated it would take. He predicted two hours, fifteen minutes. He wasn’t far off. In the end, Jeff Browne finished the game first with an impressive time of minutes 2:16:30.

Congrats to Jeff, right? WRONG! 58 minutes into the competition, Sam had to roll back to an earlier save (ruled fair by the judging committee), so we had to wait several minutes after Jeff completed the main quest to compare their final times. Despite taking a totally different route to get to the endgame (in the Fallout 3 speedrun, they had virtually the same game plan), Sam’s time was 2:16:10 — 20 seconds faster than Jeff!!

For Jeff, it’s a heartbreaking loss. He’s the Buffalo Bills of speedruns (and he actually roots for the Bills). But no matter what, Jeff Browne is awesome.

And for the second game, congrats to Sam on being the Speedrun Champion! He showed the heart of a champion and will be celebrating later this month with a pumpkin pie from Todd Howard..

Update: Folks are asking how the Skyrim speedrun stacks up to previous competitions.The Skyrim speedrun took just over an hour more than both Oblivion and Fallout 3.

For more pics from the speedrun, check out our Flickr slideshow below…

Reader Comments

  1. Awesome ! Roll on the 11th November – I’ll be taking my time though of course, no speedruns for me. Congrats to Sam and Jeff – 20 seconds is nothing!

  2. Glad to see BGS is out of the dark glow of a basement or something dull like that, more of a lively set up. Not that it had any influence from Daggerfall to the mainstreaming along with the destruction of Fallout with 3, whose narrative elements even Tim Cain was critical of vocally.


  3. This is by far one of the coolest competitions ever lol. To see how much everyone loves their work speaks volumes for the company.

  4. Took too much. Hope the devs didn’t put limitations to the game to force people to waste more time…
    After going through the Venetica nightmare I don’t want to see games that force you to play for a lot of time anymore.

    • I would be willing to bet that they both picked high elf’s because magic scaled better without having to worry about gear and new weapons. Add on top of that invisability and being able to fight without having to stand and deliver like a melee char and you can cut out alot of time.

      SO STOKED for Skyrim BTW

  5. will you be able to fish,cook,and other things what do you do at the begin g of the game at are you a prisoner again or what


  6. Well to me tes skyrim feels like bethesda is trying make it appeal to a wider audience instead of letting the game find it’s own audience & building off that foundation like action rpgs tes morrowind,tes oblivion,demon’s souls,dark souls ect…has done which to me is the right path to take in my honest opinion!

  7. If these where around an hour longer than the fallout 3 and oblivion speedruns, that means the game will be about twice as long (main story) thats great news if you ask me.