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When Kiting mobs in an MMORPG, circle strafing around a hopelessly confused mass of enemies in an FPS, or fleeing from unwanted engagements in an Action Adventure, one tends to have the funny feeling that there's something blatantly unrealistic about the situation, but what?

Then it dawns on you: The Player Character's primary movement speed in most titles is as fast as or faster than every other entity in the entire game. The reason you're a One-Man Army who can face down hordes of enemies is that you can never actually be surrounded, allowing you to pick and choose your fights, literally run rings around foes, and retreat at your convenience.

If there are speedy enemies, expect them to stop chasing you outside a "safe" zone, or to move slower than you except for short bursts and charges.

Often aggravated by a specific form of Artificial Stupidity in which NPCs aren't simply slower than PCs, but their mobility is hindered by the literal inability to perform many actions the PC can, such as eight-way run/aim, multitasking, crouching, crawling, jumping, wading/swimming, climbing, and operating doors/switches.

See also Hit and Run Tactics.

Examples of Road Runner PC include:


Action Adventure

Action Game

  • Your most important weapon in a 3D Ninja Gaiden is your mobility.
  • Lugaru: The Rabbit's Foot has a player-only move that lets you drop to all fours and run at double the top speed of the other rabbits.
    • Wolves, on the other hand, use that all the time to catch up with you...and their version is blindingly fast.
  • In Atari Games' Road Runner Licensed Game, the Road Runner can run circles around the coyote chasing him, naturally.

First-Person Shooter

  • Nomad and Psycho in Crysis: Maximum Speed nanosuit mode allows them to outrun every enemy, and land-based vehicles for a short time.
  • Virtually every FPS. Doom, Quake (although the Shamblers might have been faster, I can't quite remember), Marathon, Halo and others. Descent even went so far that it's possible to outrun missiles and Frickin' Laser Beams!
    • This comic does a very good job of pointing out how unrealistic Doom is in this regard.
    • A good way to see the difference is by fighting against other players in games like Team Fortress 2. Imagine if the computer could send squads against you that fast.
      • Of course, in Team Fortress 2, the Scout class is the fastest, so running circles around your opponents peppering them with bullets (or bats to the head) is a perfectly viable strategy.
    • This tends to be averted in Left 4 Dead, depending on the zombie type and player character health.
    • Halo: Reach provides a subversion with one particular enemy – the elites. Elites can easily out-run any player character, and will pursue you doggedly, especially if said elite has a One-Hit Kill Laser Sword and is more durable than most tanks.
    • The first two Serious Sam games, allowing Sam to strafe-run something fierce, and making the colossal distances slightly more bearable -- though most enemies with a melee attack are slightly faster than you.

Fighting Game

  • In Punch Out, Little Mac is able to take on opponents many times his size with his superior speed.

Hack and Slash

  • In Diablo II, the player is essentially the fastest thing on the map. He has a Sprint Meter, but at higher levels it's too big to make a difference. Except in very enclosed spaces, running is nearly always an option.
  • Most Dynasty Warriors games (as well as the various spinoffs) has this to a greater or lesser degree. Generally, you can outrun all the Mooks and Red Shirts you want to, but enemy (named) officers can keep up with you, give or take. However, there's always ways to increase your speed, from pickups, equipment, skills, or good old-fashioned stat-grinding. Noteable examples:
    • In Dynasty Warriors 6, some characters have a 'dash' special which, when used, allows them to temporarily move at blinding speed, attacking in the process, and carving through entire armies in the blink of an eye.
    • Dynasty Warriors 7 allows you to stack two 'Run Speed Up' enhancements (one on each of your weapons), which will give you a run-speed faster than any of the normal horses. Pick up a Speed Boot item on top of that, and you can outrun Red Hare, the fastest horse in the land.
    • Also in DW 7, a bug made it possible for Zhen Ji to essentially activate a 'reverse Bullet Time' by canceling out of a particular move, granting her super-speed - in this state, she can outpace Red Hare by DEFAULT. Stack a Speed Boot on top of it, and you'll be able to cross even the biggest maps in the game in seconds, moving fast enough that it's hard to dodge the mountains.

MMORPGs

  • Inverted in Final Fantasy XI. Most monsters move as fast or faster than the player, and unlike some games will often not stop following you until you reach another zone. Generally, the only practical way to kite in the game is to have gear that increases your movement speed, although it's possible on many monsters without it provided you get a good head start.
  • Very few non-player characters in Runescape can run.

Platform Game

  • After Mega Man X, the greatest advantage a player has over most enemies (including many bosses) is in the player's vastly superior speed and or agility.
  • Common Metroid trope, starting with Super Metroid.
  • Iji justifies this by having Iji be enhanced for mobility, as it was the only real option at the time.
    • It's still possible for her to have more hit points than all non-boss enemies save one, however, so they didn't sacrifice resistance that much…
    • Also, higher difficulty levels reduce the gap in speed, eventually making enemies faster.
  • Pretty much the main concept of Mirror's Edge.
  • Whether through the use of momentum or pure unadulterated speed, this is one of the main features of the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
  • Mario, when he's B-dashing, can run faster than basically anything else.
    • Luigi is faster than practically everything in the Super Mario Galaxy games.
    • It comes to a particularly ridiculous point in Super Paper Mario with Dashell. Without Dashell, Mario, Luigi, and Peach can already outrun just about everything in that game (including sound). With Dashell, you'll probably get hurt because you didn't see the enemy coming at the edge of the screen.
  • Spelunky plays this mostly straight (a couple of enemies don't move at all), but you get a nasty surprise if you irritate the shopkeeper. He runs and jumps exactly as well as you do, plus he has a shotgun and can toss you through the air if he touches you.

Roguelike

  • Very much inverted in Nethack. Although you can match the average humanoid enemy for speed from the get-go, many, many enemies are much faster than you until you get speed boots or an equivalent, and even then there are still some. The #1 killer of low level players, Team Ant, are not strong enemies but enemies who come in groups and move faster than the player can run. However, if you are faster than an enemy and keep track of the turn order in your head you can be practically invincible against anybody without a ranged attack, constantly forcing them to waste turns following you and stealing a cheap hit whenever you get a free turn. The enemies are mercifully unaware of this strategy.
  • Generally averted in Dungeon Crawl; most races move about the same speed as an average enemy, with some enemies being faster or slower than average. Played straight with spriggans and centaurs, who are significantly faster than most enemies, and inverted with nagas and worshipers of Cheibriados, who move slower than the average enemy. Followers of Cheibriados are particularly noteworthy in that their most of the powers their god grants work most effectively against faster enemies, making them Mighty Glaciers.

Role Playing Game

  • Seen in Odin Sphere, especially with Cornelius.
  • In Persona 3 (possibly 4 as well), the player is faster than any non-gold (who run away from the player if spotted) shadow unless they hit you from the side. This allows quickly bypassing most enemies.
  • Any games in the Tales (series) featuring the Free Run mechanic can turn into this, especially in Tales of the Abyss', where it was introduced. You can literally dodge everything by running circles around your enemies, and only one boss was fast enough to actively chase you down.
  • Knights of the Old Republic has force speed. While mostly used for faster exploration (or killing the enemy horribly with higher ranks), it can get you out of a tough spot when your teammates are down.
  • Played with a little in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. In the game, you can complete a sidequest and get the “Boots of Blinding Speed.” Wearing them turns you into probably the fastest possible thing in the game, at the penalty of a near total blindness side effect.
    • Not just 'a little', Hit and Run Tactics were viable for many a player build. In all The Elder Scrolls games, players' max running and attack speeds far exceeded any character in the game, while NPCs were slow and predictable. The only dangers for an unarmored character were tighter spaces and creatures with longer reach.
    • The Boots of Blinding Speed combine nicely with a Breton character (or anyone else with magic resistance). Insanely high speed at the cost of near-total blindness? Awesome but Impractical meets Schmuck Bait. Insanely high speed at the cost of feeling like you're wearing sunglasses? There's no reason to even look at other boots.
      • Oh really? Try abusing alchemy to up your intelligence to 6+ figures, then down some Moon Sugar. You can end up moving so fast you clip through solid objects and mangle your character mesh. Even if you don't want to reach that extreme, the target glitch or just plain custom spell creation produces far more effective and versatile results than the Boots of Blinding Mediocrity.
  • In Might and Magic VI and VII your party can easily run away from any opposition in the game, even if three out of four of you are stoned, paralysed, unconscious, dead or eradicated, and in the last case the mere fact that your comrades have been reduced to their component atoms doesn't stop them from carrying their fair share of inventory nor slow you down in the slightest.
  • This trope is the main survival tool of the main character in the Gothic series while he's low level.

Shoot'Em Up

  • In Geometry Wars, you're the fastest thing in the game ... in the beginning levels. However you do remain the most maneuverable.

Simulation Game

  • Animal Crossing series draws its outdoor scenes space-compressed, with each grid cell representing what appears to be 1 m by 1 m indoors or 4 m by 4 m outdoors. While NPC villagers have a reasonably slow walking speed outdoors, the player can still run at 1 cell-length per 16 frames (with 60 frames in a second), which in outdoor areas equals 54 km/h, and "crossing" the 64-cell (256 m) wide town in Wild World takes 17 seconds flat. Given the amount of running back and forth that the player needs to do between the sources and sinks for Vendor Trash, it's a desirable break.
  • In Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy, many of the aircraft piloted by Mooks will fly slower than the player's stall speed, even if it's the same (unmodified) model of plane. It's most noticeable if the player is shot down; passing aircraft will float by like a feather.

Stealth Based Game

  • Assassin's Creed plays with this. Most enemy soldiers are as fast as you, almost as jump capable, can knock you down with thrown stones and arrows if you try to out-climb them, and rarely have trouble moving through crowds. And if there's enough of them, never seem to lose sight of you. However, no one climbs buildings at a rate even close to yours. Your speed advantage in the game is more vertical than anything else, and once you get to the top of the buildings, it is easy to lose your pursuers. Plus Ezio is apparently the only man in Italy who can swim. And those who can outrun you are Fragile Speedsters you can kill easily. This leads to a battlecruiser-style approach where you outrun those who outfight you and outfight those who can outrun you.

Survival Horror

  • In the Clock Tower games, the PC character is something like 10 times faster than your foes. In the original game, a savvy player will quickly realise Scissorman cannot possibly be a credible threat - until he shows up in your face, instantaneously warping from one side of the mansion to the other. Unfortunately, Scissorman can only be outwitted, not outrun.

Wide Open Sandbox

  • The PC in Mercenaries 2 sprints at an average speed... but the enemy bullets are so slow you can almost outrun them.
  • A core gameplay element of Prototype, with only helicopters able to match the main character's speed. Of course, you're also tough enough to crack open a tank with a shoulder drop.

Non-video game examples:

Tabletop Games

  • Rare Table Top example in Exalted. Scourges, the chosen of Adorjan the Silent Wind, have Charms that rely on moving on absolutely blinding speeds, as well as Charms that grant them extra benefits as long as they are moving at absolutely blinding speed.
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