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Baldur's Gate 3 speedrun brought under 5 minutes thanks to 'Shadowboxing,' a trick where you kill Shadowheart and stuff her in a box to skip Act 2

Sometimes you watch a speedrun and just let it wash over you⁠—Mario backwards butt jumping until he clips into the stairs and flies away, I have no idea how it works and I don't want to, it's just a beautiful thing to behold. There's a bit of that "Mario clipping into things" energy in speedrunner Mae's blistering 4:15 Baldur's Gate 3 Any%, all thanks to a particularly nasty new trick uncovered by the community. Spoilers for Baldur's Gate 3 ahoy.

The run opts for Gale as the player avatar for reasons that we've reported on previously. Mae avoids all combat and doesn't level up, instead opting for the level 1 spells Enhance Leap and Feather Fall to just jump like a moon man past every encounter. Loading into Act 1, they ignore every companion and quest and just make a break for the Mountain Pass.

Thanks to her story-critical Astral Prism needing to be along for the ride, Shadowheart helpfully shows up and joins the team even after being ignored till now. Speedy Gale then Olympic broad jumps his way past Rosymorn Monastery, ignoring the difficult Death Shepherd fight and leaping into Act 2.

Here's where things get weird. Runners have discovered that killing Shadowheart and stuffing her body into a suitable container (one of those crates from your camp, for example) can just bork something in the game and launch you straight into Act 2's final encounter. I quite like fellow speedrunner Ins0mnia's name for the trick, "Shadowboxing."

Mae dutifully smacked the Sharran Cleric to death, took all her stuff, then looted Shadowheart's literal body to place in the container⁠—there's something particularly gruesome and funny about her being represented by her character portrait in the inventory screen. Mae then lit the box on fire and just shook it around until bam, all of a sudden they're in Act 2's final boss area. Alright, cool.

"But wait," I thought. "How are they gonna take on Ketheric Thorm with just a dinky level 1 Gale?" That's the secret: you don't.

As we reported previously, Gale's little Karsus Weave chest bomb unlocks a secret, very bad ending at the end of Act 2 where he just sets it off at the Cult of the Absolute's hideout, killing your party and turning everyone else infected with an Illithid Tadpole into a full Mind Flayer. But hey, the credits roll so it still counts.

I love CRPGs, but I usually don't find their speedruns all that fun to watch. Thankfully, all of Baldur's Gate 3's interconnected systems and immersive sim DNA make for an absolute dinger of a speedrun, and I look forward to seeing what other off-the-wall strats people come up with aside from, ahem, "Shadowboxing," or as Mae calls it, "The Dead Shadowheart Box™"