The new Legend of Zelda has finally been given a proper reveal to the world and we now have over four hours worth of gameplay ranging from little snippets to what makes up the beginning of the game. In this time we have seen various elements of the game that seem to call back to all the previous Zelda titles. Wind Waker’s Korok race has been confirmed to appear, the old Men from the first Zelda are here, the Goddess Hylia of Skyward Sword is mentioned a ton and the old symbol of Hyrule, the wings without the Triforce, appears to be used instead of the one found in Minish Cap onwards. There are so many conflicting elements here that is going to make any Zelda timeline theorist wondering ‘where does it all fit in?’ Well, today I thought would try and give my thoughts on this latest games place in the timeline.
There was a lot of talk from initial teasers about this game being set just after Skyward Sword or just after Majora’s Mask. I think now we can safely say that these cannot be the case. The reason for this is the land itself which in all-essence is another post-apocalypse Zelda world, just like the Wind Waker. This is obvious, not only from looking at the state of known places like the Temple of Time but even from the words of the old man NPC himself:
“According to legend, this is the birthplace of the entire kingdom of Hyrule.”
“Since the decline of the kingdom, it now sits abandoned, in a state of decay.”
The fact that Hyrule is now just a legend and is decaying proves that this game must be set at the end of the timeline. More proof of this is the state of certain objects, specifically the Master Sword that was shown at the end of the initial trailer and in the title card. The sword is covered in rust and looks like it is about to snap. Meanwhile other structures are just covered in vines and moss, implying they have been there for a long time.
The most definitive piece of evidence for me though is the location of the Master Sword itself. The three places where the Master Sword currently rests are in the head of Ganondorf under the ocean (Adult timeline, after the events of Wind Waker), in the ruins of the Temple of Time (Child timeline, Twilight Princess) and in the Lost Woods, resting forever! (Fallen timeline, A Link Between Worlds). In this game, the Master Sword is definitely in the woods and not Ganondorf’s head so that cuts out the Child Timeline. Next, we see the Temple of Time which does not look as grand as it it did in Twilight Princess but instead how it appeared in Ocarina of Time. With no Master Sword in sight at this temple that also seems to cut off the Child Timeline which seems to place the game at the end of the Fallen timeline. Finally, we have a sequel to Zelda II: the Adventure of Link!
So before I go into how this works story wise, I want to address those people who will disagree with me because of all the previous stuff I mentioned in the introduction to this article. In regards to the Goddess Hylia and the old Symbol of Hyrule there is no reason to think those have not stuck around. Just because it was not mentioned in other previous games does not mean it no longer exists in lore. It also needs to be noted that it is the Monks in the shrines that show all of this and they are Sheikah who have been in stasis for a long time. The Sheikah are the retainers of Hylia and so they would revere her over the other goddesses.
In regards to elements like the Korok and Bridge of Eldin I see no reason to think these would not exist outside of their original timelines. The Koroks are the evolved form of the Kokiri which formed hundreds of years after Ocarina of Time. While they only appeared in the Wind Waker, the Kokiri have not appeared at all in any timeline after Ocarina of Time. There is no reason to think that the Great Sea is the reason why they evolved this way like with the Zora and Rito. The Bridge of Eldin could easily have been built even as early as Ocarina of Time; we just never go to that area on the other side of Death Mountain in that game! So, I do not feel that any of these elements mean it cannot be in the Fallen Timeline.
In the after-math of the first Legend of Zelda game all the denizens of Hyrule left the old lands and moved North to a new continent. This would mean abandoning the old Hyrule Castle, Temple of Time and other notable landmarks from previous games. What if this is the calamity that is referenced. While Ganon seemingly died at the end of Zelda 1, what if instead he was sealed. In current Zelda lore the Master Sword is required to defeat Ganon and the hero of Zelda 1 never used it. The last game to have you fight Ganon without the Master Sword was Four Swords Adventures where he was actually sealed away and not killed. I can see a retcon incoming, much like smaller retcons that future games have made to A Link to the Past, where Ganon was sealed by Link rather than killed at the end of Zelda 1, but at some point after Zelda II he managed to partially break free and his essence killed the land. Now you are a new Link, years after Zelda II who seems to have been brought forth to defeat Ganon once again.
Lastly, I wanted to bring up the old man who appears quite prominently throughout Breath of the Wild. A lot of people have seen his appearance and connected him to King Daphnes a.k.a. the King of Red Lions from Wind Waker due to some of his comments on being a strange old man, his apparent separation from civilization and some of his general appearance. Thanks to this, a lot of people are claiming it to be definitive proof that this game must be a sequel to Wind Waker however I have an alternative theory on the matter. What if the Old Man is not actually King Daphnes but Ganondorf. This idea originally came to my mind after talking with contributor ConnorEatsPants after he made that same comment on twitter after the Old Man’s reveal. We got to talking, along with other members of the Source Gaming team, and I came up with a theory.
The old man calls Ganon the ‘calamity Ganon’ in this game which is a moniker we have never heard before for the evil beast. What if Ganondorf had his Ganon form along with all his power separated from his body and sealed away in Hyrule Castle. For the last 100 years, Ganondorf has spent his time wondering around the deserted Hyrule, trying to find a way to get his power back but keeps failing. It is over this time that he has learnt all the survival tips that he is shown giving Link in the demo, including giving Link his clothes. These same clothes are the ones that, many have pointed out since the very first trailer, bear patterns resembling the Guerodo’s clothes and the clothes worn by Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time. The Old Man’s height also matches that of Ganondorfs when compared next to Link and the big white beard that many use to claim it is Daphnes would work for Ganondorf as well. He is no stranger to beards and 100 years have passed so his hair would have definitely gotten white by this point. I could see Ganondorf using Link to undo the seal on his power so that he can swoop in at the end and reabsorb it all, becoming the yooung, youthful and powerful Ganondorf we all know from other games. This theory is also one that fits the Fallen timeline more than any other as it is the only timeline where we have not seen Ganondorf the man actually die.
On a final note for my conclusion, this game very clearly takes inspiration from the original Zelda. From recreating the original artwork, using the old Zelda font in the Japanese logo, the reappearance of an Old Man character and a focus in development on going back to the basics of Zelda. The game with the closest connection to this game from a development side of the one that started it all, so giving the game a close connection story and lore wise just seems to obvious to me.
I know the Zelda timeline is a hot topic for the majority of Zelda fans but I hope that my theory makes sense to all of you. I have heard some other theories that place this game in other Timelines but, for now, this will be my headcanon. However I want to know what you all think. Does this sound logical to you all? Is the even a story you want to see? Is there any evidence that I missed that you feel would add to my argument or do you actually feel like I am wrong and have evidence to argue against me? I would love to hear it! Until them I am going to keep salivating over this game and I hope we get some more information sooner rather than later. I do not think I could deal with another hiatus after all of this.