July 30, 2018
After last year’s blockbuster release of the latest game in the Zelda franchise, Breath of the Wild, Zelda fans were salivating over the news that one of the franchise’s more unorthodox games, Hyrule Warriors, was coming to the Switch in late Spring. It was released as a Definitive Edition, complete with all of the characters from both the Wii U version and the later DS edition, Hyrule Warriors Legends. Although Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma states that the game takes place in ‘an alternate dimension’ and isn’t part of the main canon, something doesn’t quite add up. In fact, certain events in the game have me convinced that not only could Hyrule Warriors be part of the main Zelda timeline, but they also resolve one of the biggest mysteries in Zelda history, the timeline placement of Breath of the Wild. But before you laugh off this claim, hear me out below.
The main premise of the game is of the land of Hyrule being initially threatened by the dark sorceress Cia, who after realizing that her one-sided feelings for the Hero of Legend, Link, is destined to come to nothing, seeks to conquer the land. In this crusade, she bends time and recruits monsters from different eras in order to defeat all who stand in her way. However, as the game progresses, we soon discover that she is being used as a mere pawn by the King of Evil himself, Ganondorf, who seeks for the fragments of his soul hidden in different eras of time to be reunited in order for his rebirth. Following the defeat of Cia, Ganondorf is successful in his mission, and the heroes of Hyrule once again had to defeat the timeless scourge of the land and reseal his soul to return peace.
Although we are given a limited view of the overworld in Hyrule Warriors, it is clear that it is based on the overworld of Twilight Princess, especially the Faron Woods and Gerudo Desert. This means that if the game is in the main Zelda timeline, it most certainly falls in the Child Timeline. To add more fuel to the fire, when Cia bends time, characters from the eras of the Hero of the Sky (Skyward Sword), Time (Ocarina of Time) and Twilight (Twilight Princess) appear to help the heroes of the current era. From the Hero of Time era, both Darunia and Princess Ruto appear, and considering Ruto is an adult, we can conclude that both characters have come from the point of time after when Link was returned back by the Zelda of that era to warn of Ganondorf’s sinister plans. Ruto would have been one of the Seven Sages in both the Adult and Downfall timelines and wouldn’t be able to join the fight. Hence, all characters in the game are from some point in the Child Timeline. In Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition, it is revealed that Cia and Lana’s magic isn’t just able to bring different points in time to the present, but is also able to bring different realities into the current one, something hijacked by Phantom Ganon to bring the Wind Waker era of the Adult timeline into the events of the game.
Now you may be thinking how any of this explains the timeline placement of Breath of the Wild. Don’t worry, I have just provided a foundation to my theory. The best is yet to come. So far, I have explained how and where Hyrule Warriors would fit into the main Zelda timeline. Now I will talk about how this could potentially explain the placement of Breath of the Wild. Many gamers have been baffled by how there is both supporting and conflicting evidence behind the game falling into each of the three timelines. For example, certain areas in the BOTW overworld such as the Great Bridge of Hylia and the ruins of the Arbiter’s Grounds in Gerudo Desert point towards the game being set long after the events of Twilight Princess, thus being in the Child timeline, however, this is contradicted by stories of Princess Ruto’s achievements as a Sage on the Zora tablets (Ruto was never awakened as a Sage in the Child Timeline), which instead points towards either the Adult or Downfall timelines. Collecting rock salt in the game leads to information about an ‘ancient sea’, which more than likely references the Great Sea of the Wind Waker, thus hinting towards the Adult timeline, but this is then also thrown into doubt with both the Rito and Zora’s co-existing in the same world, something not possible in the Adult timeline as the Zora’s either died out or evolved into the Rito, instead supporting the game being in the Downfall timeline. Such a dilemma has led fans to speculate that the game exists in all three timelines, or even the Zelda franchise doing a ‘Dragonbreak’ to unite all timelines. But that very much seemed impossible to explain or even prove. That is until I played and completed Hyrule Warriors and found that this can all be explained very easily.
As explained above, it is shown that Cia’s magic has both the ability to bend time and space, especially by bringing the world of Wind Waker into the game’s events. Now, it is entirely possible that some time after the events of Hyrule Warriors, another sequence of events occur which involves such magic to once again be used. Ganondorf was defeated by Link, but not killed, just his soul again sealed away. If we know the Zelda franchise well, it doesn’t take an expert to figure that Ganondorf would be out for vengeance. But given his defeat last time, he realizes that he needs to harness even higher power to achieve his sinister objectives. He would somehow escape the seal and learning the lessons from his previous defeats, stealthily hijack Cia’s magic and travel to the other timelines to recruit the only one’s actually capable of helping him, his own dopplegangers. The Ganondorfs from the three timelines would once again wage war on Hyrule. After a tiring and brutal war, the Hyruleans are on the verge of victory, but in a last-ditch desperate effort, all three Ganondorfs use magic never seen before and combine their beings into one ultimate Ganon, so strong that it lays waste to almost all of the land. This Ganondorf is so powerful and the destruction is so great, that it is referred to as an absolute ‘calamity’. This gives birth to the name ‘Calamity Ganon’, the ultimate Ganondorf combined from all three timelines causing absolute havoc. Cia and Lana see only one solution to turning the tide and sealing Ganon away once more, that is to call upon their magic to recruit armies from other realities. However, this time, it would come at a price. The three timelines would now be stuck together in this world permanently. In desperation, Cia and Lana use the magic and after heavy losses, the Calamity Ganon is sealed away. However, the land of Hyrule has changed forever, as there are now people from three timelines co-existing, so each area of the land has different stories passed down from generations. As the centuries pass, information about the past is now based on different accounts and all of these are accepted as authentic.
This theory would be a means of explaining many things seen in Breath of the Wild. In memory one, Zelda is heard uttering the words: “Whether Skyward bound, adrift in time, or steeped in the glowing embers of twilight”. This would signify that the actual world of BOTW originated from the Child timeline, however, the conflicting hints to other timelines would just remind us of how the other timelines were incorporated into the main world all those years ago. The existence of both the Rito and Zora is explained through Cia and Lana’s magic bringing the Wind Waker reality into the main reality, and thus the Rito as well, who would go on to evolve from their human/bird hybrid form to their all bird form. They will also go on to name their Divine Beast Vah Medoh after their historic sage, Medli. Also, it is possible that the Zora’s of the Child timeline hear about Ruto’s achievements as a Sage from those of the Downfall timeline and choose to make it a part of their official history, thus explaining the information on the stone tablets and naming their Divine Beast Vah Ruta. Additionally, at the beginning of Hyrule Warriors, Link is shown to be a regular knight of Hyrule Castle. The Breath of the Wild Link is known to be a descendent of a long line of knights, making it obvious that Link is a descendent of his Hyrule Warriors counterpart.
I know this theory is quite far-fetched, however, it is possibly the most logical explanation of how Breath of the Wild fits into the main Zelda timeline. Disagree? Leave your comments below!