Are we any closer to placing Breath of the Wild in the timeline?
by on February 6, 2017

[Spoiler Warning: This post contains potential spoilers. Not only is recent information about the Sheikah map and Famitsu magazine is covered in this article, but analysis of the trailer footage may make insightful predictions about the game.]

Whenever I think of crazy Zelda timeline speculation, I reflect over fond memories of me arguing with my younger cousin over the many years between Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess. Now that we live in an age with an official Zelda timeline available to the public, many Zelda fans, myself included, can’t help but wonder where Breath of the Wild fits in with everything.

Hyrule Historia timelineOcarina of Time resulted in Ganondorf’s first chronological appearance into the official Zelda timeline, yet it also resulted in three separate timeline branches that occur at the same time. So who can say for certain where Breath of the Wild belongs timeline-wise until the game is officially released to the public?

Well, lucky for you, I’m here to give you a look at some of the most popular Zelda timeline placement theories out there and share my thoughts on each.

There are just so many beautiful arguments exploding all around the Internet over which timeline branch Breath of the Wild belongs in. It’s a good time to gather these theories together and share them with the world.

A prequel to Ocarina of Time?

temple of time

“…The Temple of Time is in bad shape. Breath of the Wild must take place after Ocarina of Time.”

So far Nintendo has revealed that Ganon endured ages prior to Breath of the Wild. We have also been shown by Nintendo that the once pristine Temple of Time from Ocarina of Time returns to Breath of the Wild in ruins. Additionally, the Master Sword is in the worst shape we’ve ever seen it in. With this knowledge, and the knowledge that Ganondorf doesn’t make his first chronological appearance until Ocarina of Time, many speculate Breath of the Wild takes place after Ocarina of Time.

I think I personally agree with this speculation, but there is an interesting theory that caught my eye claiming Breath of the Wild to take place before Ocarina of Time.

In the backstory for Ocarina of Time, it is revealed that there was a Hyrulean Civil War. In that war, the Sheikah people were nearly wiped out while defending the royal family of Hyrule. So, carrying that thought out, could the remnants of Sheikah technology in Breath of the Wild be the result of the Hyrulean Civil War? According to one fan, the Sheikah “must have been one of the ones wiped out prior to Ocarina of Time!”

“The history of the royal family of Hyrule is also the history of the Calamity Ganon, a primal evil that has endured over the ages…”

We’ve met a few Sheikah monks at the end of featured Breath of the Wild shrine trials. Yet, they are mysteriously mummy-like and disappear immediately after you complete the trial. Does this suggest that the Skeikahs resorted to sacrificing themselves in order to create these trials for the next hero of Hyrule?

hyrulean war

“This is proof Breath of the Wild takes place before Ocarina of Time, I think…”

Although the answers to some of these questions seem to suggest Breath of the Wild is the story of the Hyrulean Civil War ended, there are some inconsistencies. We don’t really know how the Hyrulean Civil War started, but we are heavily hinted that it was caused by the people of Hyrule fighting over control of the Triforce and, as of yet, that has yet to be revealed in Breath of the Wild.

Plus, in Ocarina of Time, there is still no solid evidence supporting a Calamity Ganon being a cause of the Hyrulean Civil War. I mean, if Calamity Ganon was historically known prior to Ocarina of Time, you’d think the king of Hyrule from Ocarina of Time would think twice before trusting Ganondorf, someone that shares the same name as an ancient evil, right?

And yet, maybe Calamity Ganon was forgotten about entirely in the war leading up to Ocarina of Time. I really hope that isn’t the case though.

 

“Yeah, well, Calamity Ganon could have been forgotten about prior to Ocarina of Time. Mark my words!”

The Adult Timeline: Connections to The Wind Waker

The Adult Timeline only takes place if Link, as an adult, defeats Ganondorf in the final battle of Ocarina of Time. It is here in this branch that we see The Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks take place. Although there isn’t a ton of evidence suggesting Breath of the Wild to take place after Spirit Tracks (there simply isn’t information to directly link it one way or the other), there is some interesting evidence that may suggest Breath of the Wild to take place after Ocarina of Time and before The Wind Waker.

Up until Breath of the Wild, the Koroks have only played an active role in The Wind Waker. However, it has been revealed that the Koroks will show up often in Breath of the Wild. Additionally, the Rito bird people, previously only seen in The Wind Waker, are making a return with an updated look.

I’m not entirely sure if this is compelling enough proof to place Breath of the Wild in the Adult Timeline though. For one thing, we don’t know if the Kokiri from Ocarina of Time naturally take on the form of Koroks whenever they want. This could mean that Koroks can quite possibly make an appearance in other timelines down the road. And although we now have confirmation that the bird people of Breath of the Wild are called the Rito, these Rito look very different from the ones from The Wind Waker. That could be a deal breaker.

If there’s any further supporting evidence for Breath of the Wild taking place before The Wind Waker though, I think it would have to be in The Wind Waker’s backstory.

The backstory to The Wind Waker begins by describing the events of Ocarina of Time. After that, some amount of time later it describes the return of Ganon. At first, the people of Hyrule expected the Hero of Time clothed in green to return and save them. When this hero doesn’t appear, the people of Hyrule resort to appealing to the gods. Hearing the people’s pleas for help, the gods choose to seal away both Ganon and the entire kingdom of Hyrule by burying both underneath an ocean of water. This allowed the remaining Hyruleans to start a new country on the mountaintops.

garb green

“Link isn’t wearing green in Breath of the Wild? Could that explain why the people of Hyrule didn’t know of Link’s return prior to The Wind Waker?”

Initially, I came to the conclusion that Breath of the Wild can’t take place before The Wind Waker. This is because the Hero of Time was sent back into the Child Timeline by Zelda at the end of Ocarina of Time. However, the backstory to The Wind Waker supports a hero wearing a green tunic, while in Breath of the Wild, Link wears blue. One theory suggests that the people of The Wind Waker‘s backstory may not have been aware that a new hero did appear, as they were expecting someone wearing green and not blue.

Although this is an interesting theory, I think we have to treat it with a grain of salt. After all, Link’s green tunic could very well show up in Breath of the Wild later in the game.

… Something I did notice while reviewing The Wind Waker’s backstory allowed me to make a fun Breath of the Wild theory of my own though. During the introduction, The Wind Waker mentions, “The memory of the kingdom [of Hyrule] vanished, but its legend survived on the wind’s breath.” Could that breath be connected to the Breath of the Wild?

Following Majora’s Mask in the Child Timeline

So, the Child Timeline only takes place if Link, as a child in Ocarina of Time, prevents Ganondorf from taking over Hyrule in the first place. The games that follow Ocarina of Time in this branch are Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess, and Four Swords Adventures. Unfortunately, the only evidence I’ve seen for a possible placement of Breath of the Wild in the Child Timeline is twofold: the unique inclusion of Wolf Link via amiibo compatibility and the design of the Zora people being similar to that of the Zora in Twilight Princess.

It would be easy to say that Breath of the Wild takes place after Twilight Princess if the Wolf Link created from the amiibo could become human in Breath of the Wild. However, from what we’ve been shown so far, the most Wolf Link appears to do in Breath of the Wild is help hunt for food and act like an adorable doggie. This, to me, makes it seem more likely that Wolf Link amiibo compatibility was just a feature Nintendo was able to throw in for fun.

I have to admit, the Zoras of Breath of the Wild are surprisingly similar in design to the Zoras of Twilight Princess. What makes Breath of the Wild Zoras unique though, is that they are red in color, not blue. Interestingly, the only red Zora we really see in Twilight Princess is the ghost of Queen Rutela. Could this suggest Breath of the Wild has to take place in the Child timeline before Twilight Princess?

I don’t know. For me to confidently place Breath of the Wild before or after Twilight Princess in the Child timeline would require much more evidence. However, what I can say for certain is that Wolf Link’s existence in Breath of the Wild sure makes things confusing.

Pushing the Child timeline out of the way, what are the chances Breath of the Wild takes place in the Fallen Hero timeline?

In the age of the Fallen Hero

link on a cliff

“This place looks just like the Great Plateau from Breath of the Wild! I hope they did that on purpose.”

The last of the timelines, the Fallen Hero Timeline, only takes place if Ganondorf defeats Link in the final battle of Ocarina of Time. This one defeat of Link leads to a long timeline branch of Zelda games. We have A Link to the Past, Oracle of Seasons, Oracle of Ages, Link’s Awakening, A Link Between Worlds, Tri Force Heroes, The Legend of Zelda, and The Adventure of Link. As the majority of these games tell the history of Ganon, many fans speculate Breath of the Wild can quite possibly take place after The Adventure of Link.

Although I agree it would be very easy for Nintendo to place Breath of the Wild after The Adventure of Link, my favorite crazy Fallen Hero Timeline theory places Breath of the Wild before A Link to the Past. We know that Link, being defeated by Ganondorf in the final battle of Ocarina of Time, is what causes the Fallen Hero timeline to take place.

…Well, what if the Link you play as in Breath of the Wild is the same as the one defeated in Ocarina of Time?

Think about it. Link awakens inside a resurrection chamber. This suggests that Link had previously died. Could it be that a hundred years later, Link is brought back to life to defeat Ganon once and for all?

link resurrection pool breath of the wild

“Why does Link have to die in Ocarina of Time for so many other cool Zelda games to happen?”

This leads to many more theoretical questions.

Breath of the Wild has the same lighting as A Link to the Past for the Master Sword. They both have a forest location too! Interesting…”

We’re shown by Nintendo that the Great Deku Tree remembers Link. Is it possible that this Great Deku Tree is the Deku Tree Sprout from Ocarina of Time all grown up? What about Zelda? Is she the same Zelda from Ocarina of Time but with an updated look? What about the previously pristine Master Sword? How did it get so bad looking? It was once located in the Temple of Time. Now that the temple is ruined, do we finally have an explanation as to why the Master Sword is now in a forest location similar to that of A Link to the Past? And finally, if Breath of the Wild is the story of Link and Zelda from Ocarina of Time once again trying to seal Ganon away, could this story actually be the Sealing War from A Link to the Past’s backstory?

If yes is the answer to these theoretical questions, we may have very compelling evidence of at least some sort of Fallen Hero Timeline placement for Breath of the WIld.

…So!

Is there any more Breath of the Wild backstory we can possibly refer to for more insight?

The mysteries of the Sheikah map

On the Breath of the Wild collector’s edition map, there is some mysterious Sheikah text. When translated, this text reveals some interesting backstory for Breath of the Wild.

Hylians pass stories of a destined time long past where multiple races lived and worked together in harmony. The Sheikah Tribe’s blue aura breathed through the land and this mutual prosperity continued until a cataclysmic disaster struck. The Hero and the Princess attempted to seal the terror which became known as the Calamity Ganon. Divine beasts awoke from four directions and deployed a mechanical army which made the King and his people fearful. They fractured Ganon’s power and sealed him, but the Sheikah were banished from the land ever since. (Translation by Zeltik)

upside down map

“Yeah, it looks like people are commanding each beast.”

Could this backstory be proof that Breath of the Wild is the story of the Sealing War that takes place after Ocarina of Time and before A Link to the Past? Could it be proof of the Hyrulean Civil War that takes place before Ocarina of Time? Could it be another legend “of which the people speak,” the legend of what really happened after Ocarina of Time and before the Wind Waker? It’s hard to say for certain.

If anything, thanks to this map, we quite possibly have a solid Zelda theory on what the main story of the game requires the player to do. But on closer inspection, we can clearly see the four divine beasts located on each corner of the map. And if you actually turn the map around so that it isn’t upside down, you can see what appears to be a person standing on top of each beast.

tear drop

“…What if all the timeline branches fuse together into one with Breath of the Wild?”

Multiple races previously worked together. Could it be that four major Hyrulean races now live on each corner of the land, and that each race controls one of the divine technological beasts?

This theory I can stand behind. From this map and the trailers we’ve seen, my guess is that befriending each race from the four corners of Hyrule will ultimately allow Link to defeat Ganon. How, with such a damaged Master Sword? Well, of course Link has to find a way to power it back up like other Links do in Zelda games such as The Wind Waker and Skyward Sword. The four beasts could even end up as main dungeon bosses.

…Well, what do you think? Leave a comment or twenty below, and argue to your heart’s content.

 

Justin Jones
Writer of stories. Composer of piano music. Savior of countless video game WORLDS!!! ...Hello! =]
  • Rinku

    Fallen Hero’s timeline all the way. It’s about time (pun intended) to tackle that issue.
    Having said that, if that’s the case, I really hope Nintendo ties it nicely to the victorious timeline(s) at the end.

    (For example, after your -impending- win against Calamity Ganon, you get sent back to Ganon’s Tower seconds *after* your death, avoiding thus the space-time continuum error of Link meeting his older version and creating an irreversible ripple in the known universe)

    PS: Am I the only one that’s puzzled from that Sheikah map…? I see a Lizard, an Eagle and a Demon/Dragon, dungeons of the very first game.

    • taienquinn

      Looks like eagle, lizard, elephant (it’s upside down) and possibly a camel…

      • emunahelohim

        They are “main” Guardians. You see them in the trailers. The eagle is the “floating city” the lizard is the guardian on death mountain and the camel was in the Desert. I’d say the elephant is in a green area. The woods or jungle.

    • Tolinos Sora

      explain the wolf.(from twilight princess)

      • Rinku

        I haven’t played the game yet so NO SPOILERS!!
        But, if you had ask 2 days ago, i would reply that i think it was just a promotional trick from Nintendo for the Twilight HD and the amiibo figurine.
        Even so, my -maybe far-fetched theory- had the Fallen Hero *returning* back in time so he can beat this time Ganondorf, thus creating the other 2 victorious timelines (and the lead to the Twilight game).
        I will say it again, even if i am wrong or right, NO SPOILERS!

  • Magoto

    Something is been around my mind lately. If Link has been dormant along the Master Sword of resurrection, and after a hundred years he’s awaken up to Zelda’s voice, then HOW CAN ZELDA BE IN PERFECT SHAPE, TIMELESS, AFTER 100 YEARS? I mean, her appearance later in the game is just like before the 100 years war. Then, she would look like Old Impa if she waits patiently for Link to wake up of his slumber.
    So, I’m guessing she’s trapped by Ganon’s energy in a cryonis state or, hidden in another resurrection chamber, put to sleep as well as Link. SHE CAN’T BE THAT YOUNG AFTER 100 YEARS.

    • Paul Lashomb

      Well, we don’t know that she wasn’t dormant for a number of years, as well, along with the rest of the Hyrule family. Also, if that wasn’t the case, it could simply be a new incarnation of Zelda where the Zelda from 100 years prior’s Link ends up failing. Similar to the Hero of Time in the Fallen Hero timeline.

    • Tolinos Sora

      Zelda had kids and her kids had kids duh…she is a direct sequel to her grandma.
      Link is actually going to fak the timeline along with all the Zeldas that will exist…

    • jorge oquendo

      The same way she did for a much longer period of time in skyward sword…

  • Cam

    From Cam if you watched all of the trailers the master sword seems to be busted after a war also that the deko tree has to repair the sword at least that’s what Zelda said and Zelda,link are both pretty beatup after this battle so this knowledge could point to a different timeline after also it’s after 100 years and links woken up by the quote “Wake up Link wake up” also pointing twirls a possible different timeline that this could fall before also the fact in the trailers that he is obtains a cloth shirt that looks like the one that look like links pajamas in windwaker also pointing that it could be after windwaker your cousin truly Cam.

  • Saratje

    Here’s a wild spin on all three timelines: Breath of the Wild ties them back together into one by means of a retcon, featuring elements from all three branched timelines.

  • Kratos

    past, present, future, alternate universe…who gives a crap….we know its gonna have references and nods to every other zelda that came before it. just enjoy the game, stop turning it into rocket surgery.

    • saturn0205 .

      Dude, take your own advise. No need to bash timeline theorists just because you don’t like thinking about it.

    • Tolinos Sora

      its like playing call of duty…who needs story right? well we do…I love how theorists try though,when the whole thing still has empty plot points 😛
      This would make so much sense only if Breath of the Wild connects the 3 timelines,and the next Zelda games releasing are continuity and not Kingdom hearts

  • Daniel Ireland

    The master sword being damaged isn’t a good indicator of the time period. Who says the sword hasn’t been damaged and repaired hundreds of times?

  • heroofmasks

    cant be between oot and alttp in the latest trailer you see how link died or got gravely injured it was by guardians while protecting zelda this is gonna be a brand new link and its either going in in ct or dft due to the hints we got hoping child due to we need more love for the other timeline last 2 zelda games went into the downfall timeline

    • emunahelohim

      Miyamoto already stated that we’ve seen this Link before. He recently said this story takes place somewhere after OOT and stated it is not part of the adult timeline. Treehouse slipped up and called him the hero of time. Knowing that they have insider info and have played the game.. then well.. if this is the hero of time, the only viable timeline placement would be after OOT and before TLTTP.

      • butt face

        Where did they state Link is the Hero of Time in this game?

    • butt face

      Where did they state this? I NEEEEEEEEEEED to know

  • Doug

    Nintendo Everything post about a news from gameinformer wich is a cover from BofW. Aonuma says that its place after Ocarina: http://nintendoeverything.com/aonuma-breath-of-the-wild-is-after-ocarina-of-time-zeldas-emotions-using-idea-from-over-20-years-ago/

    • saturn0205 .

      And since Ocarina of Time creates the timeline branch, all this means is that it could be on any one of the three timelines.

      Personally, I’d like this to be the idea that we finally get to see the results of Link’s failure in OoT, if only to give it more credibility for doubters. But it sounds like a fascinating idea to explore.

      • jorge oquendo

        I mean, it also confirms that BOtW isn’t BEFORE ocarina of time… it doesn’t pinpoint where in the timeline split it is, but it confirms without a doubt that it isn’t before ocarina of time.

  • Dan Q

    SO EXCITED SHIGERU MIYAMOTO YEAHHHHHHH

  • Adaaification

    Warning, heavy spoilers following. Read on own danger.

    Everything hints that it is a prequel to A Link to the Past. But there are a few problems here and there with this.

    First the whole machine thing. Why does nobody remember? In no game before this we got technology that advanced to play with. There are the artifacts, but they are not nearly as advanced as this machines we encouter in this Zelda. It is like a steampunk universe all of a sudden. Yeah i know, there are differences. But it feels very strange to say the least. When there was such a great technology why was it absent in the sequels?

    And the Sheikah? Well, they existed in Orcarina of Time. In this game they are alle eradicated. As far as i’m aware off. There are this ghosts in the shrines or whatever they are. But there technology lead the the demise of Hyrule as we know it. You would think that some game in the past would remember such horrible events at least to a degree.

    In the, lets call it true ending, Zelda can’t hear the voice in the sword anymore and want’s to rebuild Hyrule more glorious then ever together with Link at her side. So that indicates that all the races got united again at some point and that life will go a better way. But Zelda was never connected to the Master Sword or i am wrong?

    An other problem appears with the sleep of Link. When this is a prequel to A Link to the past, then it plays 100 years before it. Because Hyrule was rebuilded. On the other hand that means that the Shieikah after the events in Orcarina of Time took control and a war unleashed that leaded to their demise and the end of Hyrule. That fits, because Link fought in that war and got injured. See flashbacks. That means between Orcarina and this are also 100 years. A long time.

    I think this games plays out after / between the Sealing War. Thats my guess. There are a little problems with this, but Zelda was never a game that took continuity seriously.

    • Tolinos Sora

      explain the wolf…if its in Fallen hero timeline how does the wolf from Twilight princess exists…

      • jorge oquendo

        it’s just a feature of the game to replace the navigation companion every other zelda game features.

      • Meganopteryx

        It warps in from an alternate dimension, since you have to use the amiibo from TP to get it.

      • Adaaification

        You mean DLC counts? For Nintendo it is a brand new way. And i don’t think that i count DLC into it. The Sealing War would fit perfectly. But we will have to wait, Nintendo will release its place in the timeline in the future.

  • Owen Healey

    #SPOILER#

    After playing and beating the game, i too believed the game was placed after wind waker but that soon changed.

    In one of the lost memories of our protagonist Link, Zelda says the following “wether skyward bound, a drift in time, or steeped in the glowing embers of twilight…” TWILIGHT?!

    The game makes reference detailing that it is indeed past both skyward sword and ocarina of time with both that quote and the gerudo herself saying “ganon once took the form of a gerudo”, it even hints that it may be after wind waker with the koroks and beedle but hear me out.

    That quote is meant to be apart of the “ceremony of legend” a ceremony for the chosen one, but why mention twilight if almost none of the game has any ties too the twilight realm? Its a very odd and minor detail too add in because both “skyward bound” and “a drift in time” refer to the two games “Skyward Sword” and “Ocarina of time”, so in return that would mean “steeped in the embers of twilight” would have to refer to Twilight Princess no?
    Another point to make would be that the ceremony, as stated before, is for the chosen one and hence would incorporate any previous “chosen” into the legend itself.

    Trying to place this game after Twilight Princess is a very far fetched idea, almost nothing links to it. You could easily say that the rito are descendants to the bird race in Twilight Princess, as for the Zora and Goron, they remain the same.

    So to end, what do you think? Do you believe i am onto something? Do you also find it odd to have such a specific phrase in the game?

    – Owen9995

  • Stephanie Kurmann

    I have no idea what timeline it takes place, but there are a few hints we can’t ignore. First the koroks from wind waker. But there are no zoras in wind waker. Second salt and the reference to an ancient sea. But what I found interesting is that there are two lakes near the zoras called lulu and mikau from majoras mask. But Termina is never mentiomed in an other zelda game (except the mask in links house in a Link between worlds). But for sure it is after oot, because temple of time and there are names of the people from oot. So now, I’m confused.