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!