Where Does ‘Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ Fit in the Timeline?

Henry Gilbert
Nintendo Games
Nintendo Games

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is finally here and the internet is going wild for it. Whether you’re playing it on the brand new Nintendo Switch or the Wii U, people are calling it the best Zelda since Ocarina of TimeBreath of the Wild has revolutionized the adventure franchise’s formula for combat and exploration. The stripped-down presentation and mysterious style made Breath of the Wild a hit with fans and critics alike. Yet there’s one query that’s paramount to some of the series’ most inquisitive fans: Where does Breath of the Wild fit in the Legend of Zelda timeline?

Fans had wondered for decades how exactly each Zelda game was connected, but it wasn’t until 2011 that Nintendo finally confirmed what many had suspected. Every mainline Legend of Zelda was connected in one way or another, though the official timeline also revealed that many classic games were split off into alternate histories thanks to the time travel plot of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It’s a bit of a mess, and one Nintendo isn’t always ready to explain more when asked about it.

That official timeline also causes issues every single time a new Zelda game is announced, as fans want to immediately place it somewhere in the above flow chart. Unfortunately for those in search of answers, most Zelda games reveal when they take place as part of the game. That was the case with Skyward Sword and it’s the same now that Breath of the Wild is out in stores. Slight spoilers, but the game doesn’t make it exactly clear where it takes place in the Zelda timeline. But there are more than enough hints to make some informed guesses about where Breath of the Wild fits in.

Breath of the Wild Takes Place After Twilight Princess

For starters, we can definitively say that Breath of the Wild takes place after Ocarina of Time. The confirmation is right there at the very start of the game. When you take a look at the field, you see the Temple of Time. It’s in ruins, but looks similar to how it appeared in Ocarina. There’s even rusty sword where the Master Sword once sat.

breath of the wild zelda timeline

But it’s in a massive state of disrepair, meaning it’s many years after Ocarina. But does it take place in the Wind Waker or Twilight Princess branch of the very complex timeline? It’s easy to assume that Breath of the Wild comes after The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. With the very suspect appearance of a Korok in the game. The tiny woodland sprites were first introduced in Wind Waker, and they evolved from the Kokiri race of woodland elves. This is their first appearance since Wind Waker, so what’s going on?

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild Korok Timeline

And then there’s the fact that the old man in the opening looks A LOT like Wind Waker‘s version of Hyrule’s lost king. A very strong clue to be sure, but don’t jump to conclusions just yet that this takes place in the Adult Link ending of Ocarina.

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild Timeline King Old Man

But don’t be so sure. The king of Hyrule could always grow up to look like that, as the look has stayed pretty consistent across timelines. Not only that, but tribes like Koroks and Ritu could also evolve and appear just as easily in the world post-Twilight Princess. But the biggest indicator comes in some late game (spoiler warning!) oblique references to Twilight beingin the past of this world. Not only that, but the degredation to Calamity Gannon would be easily explained by his many degrading resurrections in the Child Timeline.

We’ll keep searching for more concrete answers than that in the game’s MASSIVE world. Until then, be sure to check out our other great Zelda stuff, including our review!

Henry Gilbert
Henry Gilbert is Senior Games Editor at Fandom. He's worked in the gaming press since 2008, writing for sites as diverse as GamesRadar, IGN, and Paste Magazine. He's also been known to record a podcast or two with Laser Time. Follow him on Twitter @henereyg.
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