Bethesda QA tester beats Skyrim in just over 2 hours

Internal speed-run competition yields 2:16:10 playtime for studio's latest sprawling Elder Scrolls fantasy role-playing game.

425 Comments

The Elder Scrolls franchise has developed a reputation for offering hours of gameplay spread across reaching open-world environments. However, for Bethesda Softworks QA tester Sam Bernstein, "hours" is just barely plural with his speed run of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Skyrim will likely take a bit longer than two hours for everyone else.
Skyrim will likely take a bit longer than two hours for everyone else.

With Skyrim closing in on its November 11 ship date, Bethesda recently held its traditional internal speed-run contest, and Bernstein took the top finishing time at 2:16:10. According to a post on Bethesda's blog, that speed-run time is about an hour longer than the top times for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3.

Bernstein and the development team's Jeff Browne were likely candidates for the top of the speed-run charts, as they also clocked the fastest times in Bethesda's previous release, Fallout 3. Although they took totally different routes through the game, Bernstein finished only a mere 20 seconds sooner than his competitor.

There are no special rules in play when it comes to these speed runs, according to the Bethesda blog. The only stipulation is that no cheats are allowed.

For more on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim--due out on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on November 11--check out GameSpot's most recent preview of the game.

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squidbilly22

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when will people expect more from games ? I'm tired of seeing 9's and 10 's ratings on tired sequals with touched up textures and new maps or cars or players ect... ect.. I'm bored after level 40 and will delete and sell my copy..oh yah mine was free as usual.lol ..How does anyone keep playing these games so long it's repetition times 1000000000.

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kid23455

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This is why they did not fix the PS3 mega-lag bug. Jerk.

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XBLACKXVIPERX

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hmmm one thing is clear: these ppl need to get laid lol.......for a game that takes countless hours to play to beat it that fast man......he must know the game inch by inch and skipped pretty much everything the game offers either way...I like POO- Z better than play a game for over 100 hrs in these types of games

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chainsawyorA55

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Go on YouTube and watch some speed records for games like super mario brothers (5 minutes) to appreciate what can be done in these competitions. I played Oblivion for 258 hours and will likely play Skyrim for at least that on a single game (same character) as it is a much larger game.

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KrazzyDJ

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Holy Cow ... This is even less than the amount of time I spend in pre-preparing my self for the start of a new game !!!

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Manlymike17

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Yeah the headline for this article could definitely mislead people to make hasty conclusions. Glad I don't make quick assumptions without reading further :-P

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AvatarMan96

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Nobody's going to be playing that fast, unless they're going for a World Record or something.

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nmenezes92

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its a speed run. Probably some internal mod which sped up movements, speeches, etc. in easy mode (1 hit kills mostly)

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Dawn_oF_Doom

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2h and 16min? I spent that much time in Oblivion main city the first time I played it. How the hell did these guys finish all of oblivion in 1h???

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aussiemuscle

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I think a lot here missed the point. it's not that you can beat the game in two hours, it's that it takes an hour longer to beat than fallout3 and oblivion, at full speed. meaning the game will be twice as long as those previous titles. At 'normal' speed that'll be a long time.

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crashmer

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Way to completely miss the game...

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spikepigeo

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This article could put a very light, barely noticeable scuff in Skyrim's sales just because a lot of tardmuffins will read it - not having played a Bethesda game before - and think that this is a statement on how long they should expect to play this game to completion. To me, this is just a testament to how incredibly sandboxy this game is -- how varied everyon'es experience will be. If you have the choice to skip everything and beat it in 2 hours, or go the opposite route and completely immerse yourself in another life then that is one hell of a flexible game. I, for one, will be taking a vacation that at least gives me a hundred hours or so of free time.

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cringer_the_mad

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@ darktruth007 - What's the matter, TL;DR? Obviously you never played oblivion or any of the newer fallout titles. If you race through and only play the main quest you can beat all of these games in less than a few hours. That said, there are normally 100+ more hours of additional side quests. Hell they've already said that Skyrim will have 200+ hours of game play. WHY bother commenting if your not going to bother reading the articles regarding the actual game?

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darktruth007

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Wow - only 2 hours of gameplay - what a joke.

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ishan316

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@GamerLegend10 I never said Skyrim will be short. Hell I've even pre-ordered this game and have been recommending it to friends. I just said it can't offer varied gameplay for 200+ hours. Gameplay means the time the game keeps you busy doing varied stuff, solving puzzles and side quests, conversations etc. I just can't see myself putting 200+ hours in this game, especially after the campaign/story could be completed in 2 hours. Then again like you said, lets just wait for 11-11 and we all will find out who puts in how much time doing what in it.

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ishan316

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@soccerpzn Well, I have played Oblivion and really liked it. That being said, if I was a player who ran around aimlessly not knowing what to do for 10 hours, then after those 10 hours finally doing the right thing and saying to myself "Oh, hey, I should've done this 10 hours ago" - I would've spent 100+ hours in Oblivion, which I didn't. If you call running around not knowing what to do "gameplay hours", then go ahead and spend 1000 hours on a game, what do I care.

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garcia_jx

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Looks like no winter session for me.

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garcia_jx

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I finished fallout new vegas in four hours in my second playthrough on hardcore. I didn't do any side quests, and I skipped every conversation. however, my first playthrough took me 40 hours.

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SocialFawx

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The people who are complaining about the length of this game have obviously never played a Bethesda/Elder Scrolls game.

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anthonycg

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@4514N_DUD3 Obviously I didn't know what it was internet champion...

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Reuwsaat

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"about an hour longer than the top times for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3." ONE hour to finish oblivion??? these guys are ninjas.

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otaviogalileu

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aghhh... people use any kind of information to complain!! Its just a fun fact!! Its not news, but its interesting nonetheless. Its not a realistic portrayal of the game's length, again, its JUST a fun fact!! Stop wasting your precious time contesting the "newsworthiness" of this article and go read something else!

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Shadman_Alvi

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is gamespot so desperately lacking things to report?

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SuddenEvil

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This isn't news...save your speed run times in your blog dude.

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gino_pachino

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2 hours to complet it....yes...2 hours to complete the main quest what about the others???

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SolanOcard

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are people seriously concerned that this means the game is short? If Oblivion took just over an hour to beat on a speedrun, and you can easily spend 100+hours playing the game, then if Skyrim takes over 2 hours, we are probably looking at a core game that can take 150-200+ to complete.

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renegade_magnum

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@GamerLegend10 Yes, perhaps ridicule is too strong a word. As I said though, there are things certainly newsworthy, and other things that aren't. A QA tester setting the best speed-run record certainly isn't. It's something you do within the same organization, or it's something that's done between friends. But enough to warrant an article about it? Not even remotely. If anything, the article should have instead focused on how much more gameplay Skyrim has when compared to Oblivion, the increase in the number of quests, or the increased size of the game world, etc., and used the speedrun competition as a point of comparison rather than the centerpoint of the article.

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UncleAnesthesia

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Yeah, I accidentally skipped a lot of Fallout 3 by discovering Rivet City before doing that whole radio guy quest. There's a lot of shortcuts in these games that you can happen upon by exploring, so beating it in 2 hours is no indication of what your experience will be like.

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Shantmaster_K

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haha nice cant wait. im going to put at least 40 hours into this game lol

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Spahettificator

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People have likened it to eating contests and such. That is not an accurate analogy. In an eating contest each contestant has to eat the same food, using the same tools (hands, forks, spoons, sporks, chopsticks etc.) in a controlled environment. One person cannot skip half of the food, drop most of the other half on the floor and then eat the final scrap and claim victory. In this competition, they can. That is how it is done, using knowledge of the scripting and quest layout to drop anything not required on the floor. The prize for the winner is office bragging rights (oh and a trophy and a pie of their choice, but who cares about stuff like that?). This is serious business, people. Each department will have their champion, that one employee who has proven time and again that he is the fastest of the Scripters, or of the Mesh Makers, or of the Facial Animators and who now carries their hopes and dreams of victory over their rival departments. They probably have a wall or some other small memorial to those who have proven they are the most creative, the most subtle or maybe even the most underhanded and sneaky (like that one who uploaded the virus onto the system causing farm p*&n to pop up on the other competitors computers, constantly minimizing the game, may his name never be uttered again). Then again, maybe it's just a bit of fun now that all the hard work is out of the way, similar to holding a Quake tournament to see who is the office fragmeister. All Bethesda did was release the fastest time so anyone playing the game can try and beat it. << LINK REMOVED >> Here's their blog post about it.

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soccerpzn

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@gamerlegend10 "Please understand this: In no way is a speed-run a realistic representation of the length of a game." that is exactly right.

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Spahettificator

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People, this is an "internal speed-run contest". It is for the people who have made and been testing the game for years, who know every trick in the book (they wrote this particular book, after all). It is like a cross country marathon. You're going through beautiful countryside but not paying any attention to it as you're focused entirely on beating the other people and clocking the best possible time. The difference is here you've only got a start point and a finish point, there is no set course linking the two. It's about finding the most creative way to shorten the distance between those two points, thereby minimising the time required.

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GamerLegend10

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Please understand this: In no way is a speed-run a realistic representation of the length of a game.

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GamerLegend10

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@ishan316 you should listen to @soccerpzn i dont know why exactly you think Skyrim will be short especially when everything points to this game being even longer than its predecessor of which many people have spent very long amounts of time on. Im not sure of all the tricks and techniques used by the participants in the speed-run, but they definitely only do the main story, they will also be traveling in the fastest ways possible using every shortcut and they will be skipping all dialog and avoid fighting enemies etc. These people know every detail of this game so are able to rush through with extreme speed. Whereas it would take everyone else far longer to complete it...and on top of that you can spend huge amounts of time exploring, crafting and doing side-quest which will make up most of the games length. + mods You could easily be able to spend 200+ hours on this game.

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wilhelmut

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I find this speed-run pathetic and worthless. They have done it on easiest difficulty it seems. Do you play video games to finish it and get trophies or to enjoy them? Skyrim has the potential of more than 100 hours.

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kidnatural

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I've read many comments complaining about the speed of this... This is an open world game where they've played through the story to find bugs everyday of work, over and over and over again. This is a "speed run" which is going through the essentials ONLY. That means they skip conversations (don't read them, just initiate and run away), bypass all enemies they can (no fighting), go directly on a set path to main objectives (and fast travel like crazy when they can), and know exactly what gear they can get by doing whatever they need to do to finish the game. Morrowind which players spent hundreds of hours playing (and many hours just trying to beat the main quest), could be beaten in minutes if done well enough. If you've played the game enough to know exactly what you can do. Oblivion can be beaten quickly too. I could beat oldschool Resident Evil games in one 2 hour sitting and I guarantee you nobody thought the games were extremely short the first time they played them, and those games ONLY had a main quest to focus on. If you could cut out all those cutscenes, and shorten the time it takes to face opponents, AND allow you to simply bypass opponents in that 40 hour game Final Fantasy 13, it would be pretty darn short. I beat Metal Gear Solid 2, on my 2nd playthrough, just 2nd. In a couple minutes over 2 hours.

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DrAmazinDood

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At first it may sound bad, but if you read closely you'll see that Fallout 3 and Oblivion were finished in about 1h 15mins while Skyrim took an hour longer to beat in a speed-run as well, meaning Skyrim is probably gonna be far longer than Oblivion

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soccerpzn

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@ishan316 why do you act like you have played the game and know that there isn't 200+ hours of game play. If you have fully played oblivion and done everything you can in it then you would know that there is at least 100+ hours of game play and so skyrim will most likely be longer. And then you tell me that i need to play more rpg's and beat them, yet you make it seem like you never fully play rpg games.Go play oblivion and do everything and i can promise you it would take you 100+ hours to beat the game. And i still dont think you understand this speed run. They only did the campaign, meaning no exploration and no extras ONLY THE MAIN STORY CAMPAIGN. and they know were everything is and what to do. "may be YOU need to play some more RPG games and "beat" them before you start explaining things to people".

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chestersmurf

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The other thing that gets lost in these "speed" runs is that the people playing know where to go and so they never have to look at a map, listen to dialouge, or do anything typical to gameplay. They simply run from known location to location skip all cutscenes and conversations, and only fight when they "have" to.

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Caracaos

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By speedrun, they're talking about the main quest. If you only played through the Oblivion MQ and didn't run up any of it's associated side-quests, you could run through it in an extended lunch break.

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Ovirew

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I don't mean to sound rude, but regardless of how skilled the player is, 2 hours for a game play-through really doesn't sound long by any stretch. A good, modern video game shouldn't be beatable in 2 hours. Even the Halo games, unless you have them on easy or maybe normal difficulty, still must take at least 4 hours to beat - and that's if you're pushing through it at a good clip. Just sounds kinda shocking to me that a game with equipment and a big, open world can be conquered faster.

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Soothsayer42

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@ishan316 i get your point. but they already did speed run on fallout 3 half of the time from skyrim. Fallout turned out to be hundreds hours of gameplay.. so is skyrim. Just wait for the game

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davet666

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speed run = not enjoying the game like we the consumers will.I know I'll spend at least 150hrs on this game and that's without doing everything. I've done about 95hrs on Oblivion and there's still locations i haven't found/explored. Skyrim will not disappoint.

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ishan316

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@soccerpzn Rotfl. I do have my facts right. If a speed-run is merely 2 hours, include all the extras and (sensible) exploration you want the game can't TOUCH 200 hours. Of course at the end it depends on your skill level too, and what you mean by gameplay. If you are running around admiring the textures and visuals, that doesn't count as 'gameplay hours'. So, may be YOU need to play some more RPG games and "beat" them before you start explaining things to people.

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Spahettificator

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@Soothsayer42 Not sure but having it on more than one disc without having a required full installation from all but a main disc would be difficult with this kind of game. With games where there's a linear order you know that they'll get to a certain point and switch discs there, it's all scripted so every time you'll be at the same point in the game when you have to switch discs. With an open world game like Skyrim there's no set linear path through the game, so people will do it in totally different orders. With multiple discs using disc switching this would lead to quite a lot of disc changing as one quest might be on one disc and then the next quest the player decides to do might be on another disc.

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soccerpzn

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@ishan316 I dont think you understand this speed run lol. First off these guys only do the story line nothing else. Secondly they know everything about this game so they know who to talk to and what to do. Thirdly they probably played more games than you can think of. So yea that's why they beat the story campaign in two hours. if they were going to do everything in the game then it would take them alot longer. You need to get your facts right before you start commenting.

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ishan316

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@Arksed The guys over at Bethesda themselves said it, I read it in a UK published PS3 magazine whose name I won't mention here. Those commenting here and disliking others' comments obviously first need to get their facts right. Then again 200+ hours obviously not just the story but dungeon exploration and side-quests included, Bethesda have promised numerous times with all this you could get more than 200+ hours of gameplay from Skyrim. The hell I can, after some guy finishes it in 2 hours... It seems all devs nowadays just say catchy stuff only for face-value. Just like RockSteady made a big hoopla about Catwoman and now everyone (not me) is crying it's only a one-time DLC.

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GamerLegend10

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@renegade_magnum i agree with most of what you said, but i dont think they deserve "ridicule"...If they did a speed-run the first time through then that would be stupid, but these people will have played the game many times over and im sure they have played the game properly at length and have been able to fully appreciate it (the way its supposed to be played), so i dont think there is anything wrong with a bit of competition like this once they have already finished the game. But i completely agree that the best way to enjoy a game like this is to savor every moment and make the most out of it, also i agree with your opinion on Guinness world records...some are very impressive and are great achievements, some are just ridiculous.

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renegade_magnum

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@supertom221 No, I think the article was pretty clear. The comparison to Oblivion was one sentence. ONE SENTENCE. Most of the article was dedicated to the record, the conditions in which the speed runs were done, and how large the margin was in which the speed run competition was won. It talks about the contestants, who was in the running, and so forth. The focus is on the contest, not what it reveals. If the article WAS about the length of the game, then the headline would have been along the lines of "Skyrim at least twice as long as Oblivion, speed run competition shows." No, I think you're trying to put a positive spin on this. Fact is the article is about records, and records that really don't matter. I think it was you who missed the point of the article, my friend. You actually picked up on what was the only useful and newsworthy point that the entire article mentioned, that comparatively speaking, Skyrim is nearly twice as long as Oblivion. But in no way does the article showcase the game's content, its length, or the added elements that contribute to its gameplay. It's impressive that SKyrim has such rich content that it outstrips that of its predecessor by almost twice as much, but it's not impressive that they can complete the game in such a short period of time.

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supertom221

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@N0tYrBeezin When the creds start rollin'.

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