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. LOVE the (featured) pic! Congrats – again! – to Sam.

    Dammit, now I have a craving for pumpkin pie – and can I buy pumpkin pie around here? Not easily. Stupid Britain and its lack of pumpkin confectionary.

    • Pumpkins at Tesco, 2 big ‘uns for 3 quid. Look up a recipe and bam! Pumpkin Pie. You can thank me by sending me a slice.

      Also good work on the photos guys, not to mention the convieniently placed heads in the way of the screen.

      Congrats to Sam! 20 seconds is one heck of a close speedrun.

  2. Ooo nice headphones on Jeff. I have a pair myself with and without the titanium drivers.

    Congratulations to all in this glorious competition of endless fun and memories now golden.

  3. While I understand that they’re skipping all the dialogue and know exactly where to go, it’s a bit disappointing to hear that the main quest was completed so fast. Out of curiosity, how fast was the Oblivion speedrun?

  4. Interesting it was the same two guys from FO3 that competed again in Skyrim. Are they just the best of the gamers or merely the ones most focused on the time and therefore fastest?

  5. Not only do they have 2 more copies of skyrim than I, but they also have a friggin laser rifle on the wall… Time to bust out my sneak & pickpocket skills before 11 11 11

  6. So if they completed the main quest at levels 1 and 4 does that mean the main quest is easy or are they just that uber? Also, CAN’T WAIT FOR SKYRIM GIMMME !!!!

    • It is not 1 it’s 7.. So you can see they didn’t completed the quest at level 1 or 4.. So from the pics you can conclude that They’re rising from level 4 to 7 only in 2 minutes.

    • Well, I just completed Oblivion with a level 3 character. Obviously a Speedrun, inspired by the BSG tradition!
      Both Oblivion and Skyrim use a system where the environment and it’s inhabitants level alongside of you. This means that any quest you play is, supposedly, adapted to your level. So if I do the main quest with a low-level character the enemies I face will be much weaker than if I would attempt to do the same with a high-level character.
      I don’t think the games use the exact same system, but I’ve read the one in Skyrim is at least similar to the one in Oblivion 🙂

  7. Congrats to both, also funny to know that even the fastest speedrun of the entire quest is longer than some games.

    Can’t wait for it to come!

  8. High elf was the choice class for a speed run, huh? Interesting, but I still can’t decide which class to play as first, can’t wait! 28days 14hours 43 minutes and 20 seconds left!

  9. That’s awesome. And what better prize than a pie of choice (though, of all pies, I can’t understand why pumpkin pie…it’s great and all, but a bit vanilla when you can choose from all available pies).

    I’m very impressed by the difference in campaign time between Skyrim and Oblivion/Fallout 3. If a speedrun is double those campaigns, it sounds like Skyrim’s a big one. Please tell me I’m not going to be spending half of that time turning off hellgates…? I’d better get to kill a dragon for every hellgate I had to turn off in Oblivion…

  10. LoL! I LOVE that you guys do this! I’m also quite pleased that the grand prize is a pie of your choice from Todd. Fantastic! If that doesn’t give you warm and fuzzy feelings, you’re just not human. :o)

    Side note: I too would like to buy some official merchandise. Any word on if/when it might be available?

  11. Todd Howard is the best boss i can think of. He’s creative, smart, kind, he listens, and is just an overall great guy! Kudos to the man. I’m proud to be one of Skyrims many buyers.

      • Noooo not pinky whale pink! Must be RED! Like the Devil in some infernal steaming crimson kitchen cooking up them RED DEVIL MEAT PIES of the victorious victors desire!

        Yea RED!

  12. Congratulations Sam on a great win! mmmm pumpkin. I hope your pie is awesome.

    Congratulations to Jeff also for being a great competitor. 20 seconds? What a heartbreaker. Hugs.

    Thanks for the results. 🙂

  13. hmmm I think that i’m going to do a speed run on Oblivions main quest and see how fast i can complete it without cheating but first i’m going to get my self a video recoder so that i can record the whole thing. 😀 maybe todd will make a pie for me if i beat the speedrun winner from the oblivion challenge’s time… xD

  14. Congratulations Team Bethesda,

    Ordered the collector’s edition and cannot wait. Love the speed test as it seems a fun and culture building event. That being said: The following could be possibly labeled an “aw…boo-hoo” moment.

    I’ve seen Todd Howard expertly and effectively selling the Skyrim product while re-enforcing the awe-inspiring fierce tenacity of the Dragons. Knowing the main quest can be beat at level 1 (regardless of who is playing it) takes a little of the mystique out of the product. Just a little.

    Seems like all the work you put into it are just bells and whistles when it comes down to the actual necessity of the items. I feel this is a grave injustice to not only the player (imagination is a certain element required [I feel] in playing a role-playing game and it’s kind of hard to imagine a level 1 who can get killed by a “giant rat” to beat the main quest with Dragons involved) but also to Team Bethesda to not try to sell the “challenge” of the game since you put so much work into creating some of the greatest single player role-playing games around.

    – Serious Role-player / Online ladies man (can’t wait to get married in skyrim and make my girl on america online soo jealous)

  15. Wow thats quick! So the average gamer NOT running like a demon will take somewhere around 40 hours to complete the MQ? I am planning on spending ALOT more time than this in Skyrim anyhow! To that guy talking about Todd baking in a frilly pink apron, keep your fantasies to yourself haha

  16. gratz to the winner. And come again Jeff.

    Would be nice to see a speed run done by Sam agianst a fan when the game has been out a while.

    Just to see if a fan can best Beth’s own champ 🙂

  17. The guy holding the trophy’s face and the Skyrim logo on his shirt have the same outer shape.. I don’t know why i noticed that. Anyway, looking forward to the game.