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21 years after being set, the world record for speedrunning Doom’s first level has been bested

How fast can you get through E1M1? That refers to the first level of 1993 first-person shooter Doom, and if your answer is anything over ten seconds then you shouldn’t even bother competing.

In fact, you probably shouldn’t bother competing anyway, because the world record for speedrunning, first set in 1998, has just been beaten.

Doom was already a bit long in the tooth then – that was the year Half-Life first came out after all – but the time of nine seconds would stand for 21 years. But now a player called 4shockblast has the title, pushing the official timer at the end of the level down to just eight seconds.

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His actual time was 8.97 seconds, but Doom’s in-game clock rounds down to the nearest second, so the chances of managing to push it below this seem vanishingly slim, although 4shockblast did note that some minor improvements could be made in the notes accompanying the video. Though after “tens of thousands of futile attempts” it’s perhaps unsurprising that he’s not rushing to jump back in to prove the theory.

Here’s the full run in all its glory:

If you’re wondering how impressive an achievement this is, the answer is “very”. There’s a lot of clever stuff going on here that you wouldn’t notice when watching it at full speed that take advantage of the physics of the ageing Doom engine. The fast strafing he’s doing, for example, requires four keys to be held down at a time.

It requires a huge amount of concentration (touching a wall slows momentum, butchering your time) and an even greater degree of luck. A single stray bullet will knock you backwards, and those enemies have their own freedom to block you too.

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The video below does a great job of explaining the art behind the run and why it’s unlikely to be beaten any time soon.

Well done 4shockblast!

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