Larian Studios’ Baldur’s Gate 3 is the new hotness. Taking the internet by storm, the fantasy RPG has become the highest-rated game on Metacritic, dethroning The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. But while most folks are still chewing through the massive Dungeons & Dragons-based game, one Twitch streamer has beaten Baldur’s Gate 3 in just a little under 11 minutes.
Cary “Professor Palmer” Palmer is a Twitch streamer and YouTuber who has speedrun a plethora of games, including Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, Parasite Eve, and South Park: The Stick of Truth, among others. He also speedran Baldur’s Gate 3 in 2020 when it was in early access and included only a fraction of the full game, which he managed to beat in just seven minutes. He’s back again, this time finishing the game on the hardest difficulty using many of the same strategies and tactics from before despite Larian Studios filling out the rest of Baldur’s Gate 3 and patching out a couple of shortcuts.
Be warned, mild spoilers for Baldur’s Gate 3 follow.
Blowing up Baldur’s Gate 3‘s final act
Starting in the game’s opening area, Palmer used the wizard Gale and the fighter Lae’zel to jump large distances across the world. He skipped through every bit of dialogue possible and made short work of the few enemies he ran into. As he bypassed everything, you could hear him smash the space bar to spam the “skip” button during cutscenes. Pretty soon, after zipping through all dialogue and jumping past most fights, Palmer found himself at the end of act two. Gale starts looking pretty intense, with energy crackling around him, Palmer shouted “GG,” and the credits rolled. And that’s that, run done. But what exactly happened here?
As my colleague Kenneth Shepard explained, although Palmer didn’t reach the game’s third act, he still fought the final boss in a roundabout way by using an ability the wizard Gale has tucked away in his kit: A self-detonating bomb.
“So, basically, [Palmer] did one of the ‘alternate’ but still valid endings, circumventing the entire third act,” Shepard said. “The character [he] used, Gale, has a magic bomb in his chest that, if you make the decision, can be used to kill the final boss without a fight, but at the expense of your party’s survival. It’s brought up as a possible solution multiple times throughout the game and by either passing persuasion checks or being in a relationship with him like I was, you can keep him from sacrificing himself. It’s funny because using the bomb is an ability he has in his loadout you can technically use at any point and get a game over screen, but in a few sections it can be used as the actual plot decision you make to solve the game’s overarching problem.”
In an email to Kotaku, Palmer shouted out another speedrunner named Mae who hit upon using Gale’s self-destruct in their run, too, a solution he said “fit perfectly” with his own route. Mae’s run clocked in at 10 minutes and three seconds, but the two players watched each other’s playthroughs to find ways to get to the credits even faster. Still, it wasn’t a cakewalk. He said the run took him about 15 attempts to complete.
“The hard work was trying to circumnavigate what the developers put to keep me out,” Palmer said. “Especially after I gave Larian my early access run. From there, the hardest part was finding the key details of the hardest difficulty—which were more than we realized—and why certain things worked in some difficulties but not others. The easiest part was grinding out runs.”
Although this is his first Baldur’s Gate game, Palmer has already sunken over 130 hours into it and has beaten it in “about 100 out of the 17,000 ways” Larian Studios has devised. While no glitches or mods were used, he clarified that he might find some to help with future speedruns. He did note that Larian made some tweaks to the game in response to his 2020 speedrun that slightly complicated the route.
“In my IGN devs react video, they talked about certain story triggers that are not shippable anymore,” Palmer said. “They changed the entire first area, they changed me being able to throw my teammates. Previously I did an incredible trick where we threw Lae’zel through the floor and into the ship transponder. Not anymore. They did add a jump hotkey as a result of my run, though.”
Despite the changes Larian Studios introduced to Baldur’s Gate 3 now that it’s officially out of early access, Palmer still managed to clock in bonkers completion time. There’s a minor discrepancy, though. The video displays a time of 13 minutes and 35 seconds, while the title reads 10 minutes and 49 seconds. According to Palmer, the latter time is the one to look at because it’s based on load times. Since some PCs are faster than others, Palmer said, the speedrunning community considers black screens and loads as removed time, seconds that don’t count toward the final speedrun. Now, with this speedrun done, Palmer is moving on to finish Baldur’s Gate 3 in another way.
“I’m currently interested in finishing my route for All Acts,” Palmer said. “This means finishing Baldur’s Gate 3‘s entire story in one speedrun. I don’t think it should take a whole lot longer than the time I posted, honestly.”
It’s wild to me that a game that can take anywhere from 39 to 84 hours to beat has been completed in a handful of minutes, but the optimization is cool to see. The memorization, the planning, the decision-making—every bit of it takes patience and persistence, something we all could definitely learn from.