Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Metroid Dread’s speedrunning scene is already off to the races

When a new game launches, speedrunners waste no time in tearing it apart. From day one, it’s a race to see who can finish a new game faster, as people begin discovering and trading tricks to shave off time. In the case of Metroid Dread, eager speedrunners had already gotten the game down to under two hours in a matter of days — for reference, it takes at least eight hours to beat casually.

Metroid Dread any% in 1:29:18

It’s no surprise that the game is being deconstructed so quickly. Metroid holds a somewhat historic role in the speedrunning community. Super Metroid is something of a “marquee” game for events like Games Done Quick, which have often positioned it as a sort of “main event.” The series is ripe for fast play thanks to freeform exploration, advanced mobility techniques, and sequence breaks that turn the game inside out.

Less than two weeks after its release, it’s clear that Metroid Dread is forging a similar path in the speedrunning community. With an absurd amount of tricks already discovered and the world record completion time steadily ticking down, Metroid Dread shows just how impressive and efficient speedrunning communities are.

The race is on

Metroid Dread launched on Friday, October 8, alongside the Nintendo Switch OLED. Like many people, Dino Fernandezcano, who speedruns under the name MrDino023, couldn’t wait to tear into it. A longtime fan of the Metroid series, Fernandezcano initially became interested in speedrunning when watching runs of his all-time favorite game, Super Metroid. He eventually decided to try speedrunning for himself upon the release of AM2R, a fanmade remake of Metroid 2 that was eventually taken down by Nintendo. He was drawn to the idea of digging into a game from scratch, rather than trying to follow decades of speedrunning history.

Fernandezcano’s completed his first, casual playthrough of Metroid Dread in one sitting. He beat the game in around 10 hours and 30 minutes, which is on par with most players. Impressed by the game’s movement, he decided to start speedrunning it the next day. But he wasn’t the only one.

“When I was playing this game, I was like, ‘yeah, I’m definitely speedrunning this game,’” Fernandezcano tells Digital Trends. “But Sunday morning [October 10], I saw that someone had already beaten the game in one hour and 58 minutes. And I was like, what’s going on? The game’s been out for like two days! Why are people beating it already in under two hours? So I was like, ‘well, I’ve got things to learn.’”

Considering all the deaths and issues this run had, Im very happy with it since its sub 1:35, lets keep going!! pic.twitter.com/0aWn81kmzN

— MrDino023 (@MrDino023) October 18, 2021

He began watching runs and learning the early “route” on October 10. By Monday, october 11, he was ready to try his first actual run. An unfortunate game crash destroyed his first attempt, but his second run went smoother. He completed it in two hours and 30 minutes, shaving eight hours off his initial time. Just days later, he had beaten the game in one hour and 43 minutes. He currently holds 12th place on the game’s world record leaderboard.

Sequence break

The Metroid Dread scene mobilized incredibly fast. Players started trading secrets through Discord and social media as everyone worked together to break the game. When I spoke to Fernandezcano the Friday after the game launched, players had already discovered at least seven sequence breaks that turn the game inside out. In current speedruns, players skip the game’s underwater boss Drogyaga entirely. Even more impressive, players have found a way to skip the game’s tutorial E.M.M.I. encounter using a trick called “Pseudo Wave Beam,” which allows players to get shots through walls before acquiring the wave beam.

Metroid Dread - Early Phantom Pseudo Wave Tutorial - Speedrun Strats

Some of the sequence breaks are intended. If players manage to get the morph ball bombs early, they can actually perform a near-instant kill on Kraid. There’s a special animation built into the game for it, so developer Mercury Steam intended for players to be able to do it. Though what’s funny is that speedrunners aren’t even using the trick.

“That’s not fast enough!” Fernandezcano says. “Going out of your way to go get bombs and then going back to defeat Kraid is not worth it, even though the kill looks pretty cool.”

Samus stares at Kraid in Metroid Dread.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

A big part of why the game can break apart so easily is due to its mobility. Metroid Dread is much faster than previous games in the series thanks to abilities like sliding. But the big game changer is the game’s shinespark, a returning ability that allows players to store up momentum from a speed boost and unleash it to blast forward like lightning. The shinespark has appeared in previous Metroid games, but the tweaks here make it much easier to execute, allowing for absurd tricks.

“The way that the speed boost and spinespark work in this game, they give you a little bit of margin of error,” Fernandezcano says. “Sometimes if you bump into a wall, you still keep your speed if you recover fast enough. That kind of thing doesn’t work in other Metroids. If you walk into a wall, you lose your momentum. So that makes it a little easier to learn certain things, but fun to actually get them.”

Sharing is caring

By the time Fernandezcano and I spoke on October 15, the game’s fastest completion time was around one hour and 35 minutes. When I checked again on October 18, that time had been reduced to an hour and 29 minutes. By the time you read this, that number will probably have moved down even more.

The main reason it moved so quickly is because the community has been eager to share information with each other. While speedrunners are ultimately competing for the best time, discovering the perfect route is a collective effort. Fernandezcano has already created YouTube tutorials outlining some of the game’s biggest tricks so anyone can learn them. The more people who get into speedrunning a game, the more opportunities there will be for someone to find a new trick that shaves seconds off the final time.

There’s a lot of potential for Metroid Dread’s future as a speed game. Since the series has such a strong pedigree, it’s sure to get a prime spot during events like Games Done Quick. It could also have a lot of appeal for younger players who didn’t grow up with 2D Metroid games (its predecessor, Metroid Fusion, came out 19 years ago). It’s just always more fun to see games you’re familiar with torn apart. Dread isn’t just a big moment for Metroid; it’s a fresh era for the series’ speedrunning future.

Metroid Dread is out now on Nintendo Switch.

Editors' Recommendations

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
Sea of Stars’ unique RPG combat has already won me over
Zale and Valere from Sea of Stars

When I first started up the new demo for Sea of Stars, the upcoming indie RPG that draws inspiration from classics like Chrono Trigger, I wasn't hooked after my first battle. Its combat system confused me at first, with shifting type weaknesses and a mana pool that somehow felt like it was only an inch deep. Only after I read about the combat in-depth did I learn to appreciate its quirks, like its signature "lock" system. If only it teased a more emotionally gripping story, I'd be convinced it's worth playing from the start to end.

Sabotage Studio’s latest project serves as a prequel to its other game, The Messenger. Our heroes, Zale and Valere, are the only ones capable of using Eclipse Magic, a special power capable of defeating the Fleshmancer’s monsters. It's up to the two protagonists to stop their foe with their combined powers -- something that Sabotage takes care to highlight in the demo with the aforementioned combat.
C-combo breaker!
Sea of Stars blends just the right amount of traditional and modern gameplay in its battles. Players can directly choose if a character attacks, casts a spell, or uses an item during their turn. Each character has a mana bar that refills whenever they use their normal attacks, as well as skills that they can cast when they have enough MP. Ideally, the player should take advantage of type weaknesses. Attacks charge a combo meter that lets characters use dual attacks, which sometimes hit more weaknesses than the characters can on their own.

Read more
Metroid Prime Remastered gives the best video game soundtrack its due
Samus stares down Thardus in Metroid Prime Remastered.

Despite first playing Metroid Prime over 20 years ago, parts of it still came back as clear as day to me as I played through its excellent Switch remaster. I could still recall the exact moment when I experienced my first Metroid, as it bursts out of its test tube and starts wildly zipping around. I remember every camera shot leading into the Thardus battle. I’m even able to find some of its most hidden collectibles with a bit of muscle memory I never even knew I retained.

Even with so much of the first-person adventure game is branded into my brain, there’s one aspect that I can always recall with particular clarity: its soundtrack. Metroid Prime’s original soundtrack is one of the brightest highlights in a game full of them, offering players a host of atmospheric sci-fi tracks to scan and blast to. Each composition is bursting with personality, from its X-Files-like opening theme to the almost West Coast hip-hop synths of Chozo Ruins.

Read more
Metroid Prime Remastered makes one of the best games of all time even better
Samus stares up at Meta Ridley in Metroid Prime Remastered.

After countless rumors and years of disappointment as those leaks failed to materialize, Metroid Prime Remastered is finally a reality. Though its existence may not have come at a shock at this point, Nintendo’s surprise shadow launch of it following this week’s Direct showcase certainly caught fans off guard. Shortly after the presentation wrapped up, I was unexpectedly revisiting my favorite video game of all time with all of its creative glory intact.

As its name implies, Metroid Prime Remastered isn’t a total overhaul of the Nintendo GameCube classic. Every second from the first-person adventure game unfolds exactly as you remember it, from its thrilling opening aboard an abandoned space frigate to its mournful trek through Phendrana Drifts. The visuals have been modernized and a new control layout makes it play like a modern shooter, but those are the only real changes you’ll find through the adventure.

Read more