Please note: If you are a timeline enthusiast and would like to discover or theorise Breath of the Wild‘s placement for yourself, then please stop here. The following article contains minor spoilers.

In an interview with Game Informer, Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma confirmed roughly where Breath of the Wild sits in the series’ complex timeline, although his statement is vague enough to keep us guessing for a more specific placement. The game takes place after Ocarina of Time which, as timeline fans will know, is where the timeline splits. Whether the game belongs in the Adult, Child or Downfall timelines is still up in the air — and we can’t rule out the possibility of a fourth timeline.

Aside from noting that “Link can find a dilapidated Temple of Time in the game’s opening moments,” the magazine says that “additional direct ties are difficult to identify.”

Aonuma admits that he didn’t want to dig too deep into the timeline aspect and let it obstruct his goal of redefining the series. “Because we wanted to redefine the whole process, I didn’t want to be chained up by the idea that we had to think about the past titles.”

” we wanted to give the fans the opportunity to say, ‘Oh, I saw this. Maybe this is how it expands the story’”

However, as always he had the fans in mind, so he wanted to give timeline enthusiasts something to go on while playing through the game. “I know there are a lot of fans who are interested, and who are knowledgeable in the Zelda franchise and the history. So by adding little elements here and there, we wanted to give the fans the opportunity to say, ‘Oh, I saw this. Maybe this is how it expands the story,’ or give little hints here and there.”

I’m happy to hear that Aonuma decided to not let the timeline dictate the game’s story and to instead prioritise making something new and exciting for the Zelda series, while still dropping some hints for the lore lovers. This seems like the best outcome for everyone!

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  • NasiDe

    Not too surprising though since ‘Ganon’ exists.

    • JaidynReiman

      The grand majority thought this. Only a select few thought otherwise, that it might be pre OOT.

  • Ulises

    After OOT and before ALTTP. Mark my words…

    • JaidynReiman

      I think its very likely to be there, but I also think one possibility could be that its a fourth timeline after OOT, created after a time crash of the other three timelines.

      The voice mentioning past encounters with Ganon is referring to future events that already happened in other timelines, before this timeline was created.

      My bets are still on between OOT and LTTP, but that’s one possibility I can see. (I think its close to OOT, though, not too long after it.)

    • grevlinghore

      My current theory is that BotW is between OoT and WW on the Adult timeline.
      The Adult timeline, of course, follows Zelda´s story after Ganondorf was successfully defeated and sealed away, and the Hero of Time was sent back to the past, never to return.

      My idea is that the “Past” sequences in BotW take place roughly 100 years after OoT, or however long it took for the Deku Tree Sprout to grow back to size, and the “Present” in BotW, thus, is roughly 200 years after OoT.

      Then, the lesser deities of Hyrule, specifically the Deku Tree and Jabu Jabu, have begun to sense that a great calamity is about to befall the kingdom, and thus, preparations are being set in motion, such as the evolution of the Koroks and Rito from Kokiri and Zora respectively.

      But here´s the thing, though!
      We know that BotW has at least two endings, which makes me think that the ending that we get for fighting Ganon prematurely is the one that sees Link fail, and leads to the flooding of Hyrule and paves the way for Wind Waker to come later.
      The other, “true” ending, then, is rather mysterious, but I like to believe that it will be an alternate path to the Downfall timeline and aLttP, where Ganon is successfully sealed while in possession of the complete Triforce, which lets him turn the Sacred Realm into the Dark World over time.
      I have no evidence for linking BotW to aLttP, but that´s what I would like to see, since there are some very notable LttP references in the game.

      • taienquinn

        Interesting theory – Another explanation could be that the game takes place between Ocarina and Wind-waker but the entire game is a paradox that wipes itself from the timeline… In the same way that Zelda’s seal in the crystal in SS is erased from the timeline when Link defeats Demise in the past.

    • taienquinn

      Problem with that is that after Ocarina Ganon has only attacked Hyrule once… The imprisoning war makes two attacks on Hyrule so if BoTW is meant to be the imprisoning war then it doesn’t fit with the “multiple times” quote. The next attack logically is ALTTP – He’s still in the sacred realm and still in possession of the complete triforce. There’s no strong evidence that I’m seeing that narratively would place it here – except the relatively well preserved Temple of Time and the possibility that the Zora, Goron, Rito and Gerudo in blue might be the knights of Hyrule – in which case the sages should also make an appearance.

      • jorge oquendo

        I was thinking it might be possible that they’re sages? Maybe a few of the six from OoT? Or just their descendants?

    • richard33

      lol it’s after Twilight Princess

      • Ulises

        LOL so true, “un-mark” my words then. Btw, do we have 100% confirmation that this game is in the child timeline? it is after TP or after FSA?

        • richard33

          No idea, It’s definitely after TP, but it’s very unclear if it’s after FSA.

          • Ulises

            Ok but why “definitely after TP”?

          • richard33

            In the first memory Zelda says, “Wether skyward bound, adrift in time, or steeped in the glowing embers of twilight”, clearly talking about the events in Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time, and Twilight Princess respectively. That’s why.

          • Ulises

            The twilight realm could still exist in any of the three branches of the timeline, Zelda didn’t mention anything too specific (like Midna or Zant for example), besides in that memory when Daruk and Revali start talking you can still hear Zelda’s speech to continue in the background and while Zelda becomes quite inaudible in the english version, in the french one you can hear saying: “Par delà les mers… Dans sa quête du pouvoir d’or forgé par les dieux…”
            Which means: “Beyond the seas… In his quest for the golden power forged by the gods …” those would be references to both Wind Waker and A Link to the Past. In the german version she said something like: “Whether the hero crosses the oceans or recombines with the past…” so if we have vague references to the three timelines I would take that speech more like an easter-egg (just like the name of some places in the game).

            On the other hand we have the story of the Zoras part five wich tells the story of princess Ruto and how she awaken as a sage and faced (not defeated) and evil man wich wanted to rule the world along with the princess of Hyrule and the hero of legend. As far as I know this didn’t (and couldn’t) happened in the child timeline, plus those details are more specific about something that happened long time ago compared to Zelda’s vague reference of the twilight realm (wich like I said before could still exist in any of the timelines).

          • richard33

            You’re completely right. I didn’t pay much attention after Daruk and Revali had their conversation. I was also very confused on why the divine beasts were named after the sages and Medli of the adult timeline when they never existed in the child timeline. Also the existence of the Rito is extremely confusing. Apparently this game is combining the timelines or something weird like that. The only reason I want to believe it’s after TP, is because the reference to TP was the one we were able to hear clearly during the memory and it was mentioned immediately after OoT.

          • Ulises

            Yeah I know, finding the place where this game fits it’s getting more and more confusing. I’m starting to bet on the unification theory lol! One thing is for sure though: it’s not before Alttp like I thought at first.

  • Andy

    I’d love it if this was in the fallen hero timeline and went beyond Zelda 1 & Zelda 2, but it’s probably not the case.

    • Brandon MacDougall

      It’s most likely fallen hero in OOT.

      • taienquinn

        I disagree, I think the trailer and footage is hinting that this Link dies protecting Zelda from the Guardians and is later resurrected – that doesn’t fit with the Hero of Time’s defeat in the final battle with Ganondorf.

        • Tyrone Jones

          Depends how long each era is. I feel like even after Zelda 2 the ToT would still be standing in some shape. Plus after Zelda 2 fits the many attacks by Ganon like Aonuma told us.

          • taienquinn

            I’m not so convinced – The Goddess springs are all intact too, and given the size of Hyrule in Zelda 2 and ALTTP etc. I’d be surprised if the temple survived until the end of that timeline. In the child timeline it’s in ruins 100 years after Ocarina (as seen in Twilight Princess). So the many centuries that pass between Ocarina and Zelda 2 would make the temple actually surviving seem pretty unlikely to me.

          • Tyrone Jones

            TP actually takes place several 100 years after OoT and the 100 years later was a mistranslation.

          • taienquinn

            Even so, it’s implied in the Hyrule Historia that the sacred grove in ALTTP is the ruins of the temple of time – it states that a temple once stood there – though it doesn’t go as far as to name it the ToT. In any case the temple of time makes no appearance at all in the downfall timeline after the events of Ocarina.

          • Tyrone Jones

            Well seeing how they have moved locations depending on the circumstances the Master Sword could have easily been moved with kingdom. It wouldn’t make sense for HH to say in a temple and it is still the temple of time because it should’ve just said the temple of time which it didn’t. The temple of time is mentioned in other parts of HH. I mean even BotW has the Master Sword in the same spot as in ALttP and ALBW which possibly hints it as another Downfall game and the the ToT is there to so the ToT could have easily been off screen the whole entire time. Like people have said many times “Just because something isnt there around that time doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

          • Tyrone Jones

            With the*

          • Tyrone Jones

            Yeah it said a temple not specifically the temple of time. It makes no sense why it wouldn’t have just said it was in the Temple of Time and then on another page it says it was left in the Temple of Time in child timeline. It rather make sense it was moved to another temple.

  • richard33

    I hope it’s not on the fallen hero timeline. Even though that timeline has absolutely great games and stories, it’s like the stupidest timeline to be created. I hope BotW is on the child timeline after Twilight Princess

    • Tyrone Jones

      The downfall timeline is whatbmade Zelda unique the fact that there is a timeline where Link because it’s our fault for getting him killed is pretty unique also since it explains how the demom king actually came to be and how the downfall games actually fitnin.

      • richard33

        I have to disagree. Since the downfall games were the first games of the franchise they don’t actually fit it in with the rest of the timeline because those game were never meant to be related with the rest of the series. They are related to the rest of the downfall games but having them stem out of OoT was not a great idea. Dying in Zelda games is not a big deal, you just start again from a checkpoint. And you cannot use a parallel world theory to explain it because there’s not an army of Links just waiting in case one of them dies and creates the downfall timeline. And if that was the case, you would have to create a completely new timeline in every game that Link can die which is all of them. I don’t hate the downfall timeline and if BotW is set on it I won’t be disappointed. I just think it doesn’t make sense and that it will bring much more story if it was on the child timeline

        • jorge oquendo

          It’s explained easily by just assuming that none of the deaths we experience are canon or that when we “die” it’s actually link running back and regrouping. It says “game over” not “you died” and it says in HH that the hero dying in OoT is what started the split leading down the downfall timeline, but it doesn’t say that that death has anything to do with us.

          • richard33

            It might be an easy explanation but not a good one, because the idea of the downfall timeline is just not good. Also, if we had nothing to do with Link’s death then that would mean he died off screen, meaning before the game starts or after it ends. If it’s before, then why have a game at all. If it’s after, it would not make sense because Ganon was defeated. Maybe I didn’t quite understand what you meant by us having nothing to do with his death. I repeat the downfall timeline is amazing, great and awesome games and stories. It just doesn’t make sense when related to the whole Zelda timeline.

  • taienquinn

    I’ve more or less ruled out the Child Timeline because of the Temple of Time – In TP it’s far more dilapidated than it appears in BoTW meaning the game would need to take place before TP in that timeline – but between OoT and TP Ganondorf is sealed in the Twilight realm so he can’t menace or destroy Hyrule in that era. If it did come after TP – the temple would have had to have been restored and then destroyed a second time between the two games… not impossible… but potentially unlikely.

    In the Downfall Timeline there are three potential positions:- between OoT and ALTTP; between Triforce Heroes and TLoZ; or after AoL at the end of the timeline.

    Options 2 and 3 in this timeline are unlikely due to the presence of the temple of time (which doesn’t appear in any of the downfall games). It could theoretically come between OoT and ALTTP, and be a reworked version of the imprisoning war. This fits in with the warriors in blue: The Rito, Goron and Zora characters; along with Zelda and Link all wear blue. Could they be the knights of Hyrule mentioned in the imprisoning war?

    Adult Timeline – Could be before WW or after ST – both are possible. WW’s backstory specifically states though that the people prayed for the Hero of Time to return (something he was not able to do having been erased from the timeline) – WW occurs because the hero did not appear. Obviously WW being an older game wouldn’t reference BoTW-Link but it seems a little bit strange to try and shoehorn another hero in between those two games. That being said, the Hero of Time is revered in WW as a hero in green that will save the land – This Link seems to be garbed in blue perhaps as a way of explaining why the people of WW don’t acknowledge him as the Hero or relegating his importance to that of being the same as the other blue scarf wearers in the trailer. He simply isn’t as important or famous as the Hero of Time.

    A few things are heavily implied though from the trailer. Link is not necessarily a hero we’ve encountered before – his defeat and resurrection seem to be being covered within this game as memories that will be unlocked as the game goes on; and it does not appear to be implying that this Link is the fallen Hero of Time. Hyrule was destroyed by Calamity Ganon’s rampage – not the Great sea – I’m unsure as to how well preserved the land would be under the great sea – but it’s unlikely to have been as preserved as it is in BoTW.

    Could it be a dragon break? Well, for that to be the case the game would have to be set at the end of all three timelines – meaning that all the problems of placing the game at the end of any of the timelines would apply simultaneously… It’s far more likely to be set in just one timeline.

    • taienquinn

      I’m now reviewing my stance on the great sea… Elements of the land of Hyrule are pretty well preserved… including the Goddess Springs, The temple of time, and Hyrule castle/the fountain. We don’t see much of Hyrule under the great sea so we have no reference to what it would look like post or pre-Windwaker. It’s possible that these structures are either present prior to the great flood in the case of the first two or they are built upon repatriation of an unflooded Old Hyrule in the case of the latter two. While it’s not definitive I think the ravages of time over the course of the downfall timeline and the expansion and decline of Hyrule in that timeline would mean that much of the old architecture would be lost – none of what we are seeing (bridge of Eldin/ Temple of Time etc.) is present in ALTTP or ALBW. Some of the geography is similar to LOZ and Z2, but not the ruins of familiar Hylian landmarks.

      I’m reconsidering the imprisoning war theory too, as at that point Ganondorf would have only attacked Hyrule once (not multiple times) – The imprisoning war would only be second such attack on Hyrule, and while I like the idea of the characters in blue being the knights of Hyrule, the fact that Ganondorf has attacked Hyrule multiple times, according to Aonuma, sort of rules this one out.

      So to recap I think the most likely position is after Spirit Tracks… (until I change my mind again).

  • Travelering_swordsman

    good to know its after OOT, where i dont know but i hope its after Legend of Zelda 2 from Nintendo. something new from that era.. for a change..

  • Ryan

    Either OoT -> BotW -> LttP or LBW -> BotW -> LoZ. personally, I think the latter. It would explain why Hyrule is so barren in the original game.

  • DarKnyht

    This is actually the Hyrule Warriors timeline. Nintendo is just messing with everyone as that timeline combines everything together. The true hint is that everyone loves running around in blue shirts or blue scarfs, in honor of the greatest link: Blue Scarf Link.

  • taienquinn

    Well the game is out and SPOILER ALERT!…

    Everything I pointed out was pretty much wrong… The game directly references the Hero of Twilight in a cut scene, but also references Ruto becoming a sage (which is only seen to happen in the Adult and Downfall timelines)…

    So to sum up… The Temple of Time is obviously excavated and rebuilt following Twilight Princess – Shad is seen leading an expedition there during the credits of TP. Ruto must have been made a sage in the Child timeline as well (along with the other sages) and passed away by the time of TP replaced by the ghostly sages of the Twilight era.