So far, we've only seen a small slice of the newest Zelda game — but that's enough to get some fans speculating wildly. As many of you already know, there is such a thing as a "Zelda timeline", and it chronicles the different parallel Zeldaverses that currently exist, post-Ocarina of Time.
With a new game on the horizon, one thing that hardcore fans have been wondering is where Breath of the Wild could fall on the timeline, given what we currently know. Silly as it may sound, it is a question that already has a small YouTube army devoted to it:
The most popular theory I've seen floating around, both on YouTube and other social media, is that Breath of the Wild takes place sometime after Wind Waker, potentially starring an old Link, not a new one (hence having to 'wake up' in the trailer footage in the first place). The evidence is a variety of different things fans noticed during the Treehouse demo earlier this week.
For example, here's an item that Link can find during his travels:
Image source: neoGAF
The implication here being obvious: the area you are exploring once used to be covered in water. Going back to Wind Waker, we know that the Koroks planted trees in the hopes of connecting all the different islands into a single landmass, so that the people could "join hands and, together, create a better world". And wouldn't you know it, Koroks make an appearance in Breath of the Wild as well. Actually, many of the specific Koroks we meet in Wind Waker seem to be in Breath of the Wild as well:
Image credit: Zeltik
Could it be possible that the Koroks succeeded in their mission? Or are Koroks perhaps just a general staple of Zelda now, in the same way that elements like the Master Sword are?
There are other small hints that point toward some connection to Wind Waker, like the fact that the old man looks preeeetty familiar:
Image credit: Nairmune
Here's where things get weird. If you look closely, the references and similarities are not limited to one game — over on neoGAF, people have drawn parallels to Ocarina of Time, Skyward Sword and A Link To The Past:
And then of course we must consider Wolf Link's appearance in Breath of the Wild...
...though it's unclear on whether or not Amiibo functionality should really influence our understanding of the timeline. By that metric, every single Nintendo game exists in the same world simply because there's Amiibo functionality.
Still, though: People do think Twilight Princess could have some connections to Breath of the Wild. This mysterious floating thing for instance could possibly be a Twilight Princess portal:
Image credit: Polygon
Or not! It could be so many different things from different games, like a floating city from Skyward Sword. It's entirely possible that we see these different elements collide because Breath of the Wild is actually a convergence of different timelines. At the very least, given the ruin and worn-like nature of what we've seen thus far, Breath of the Wild seems to take place long after SOMEthing.
Last weekend, our own Stephen Totilo got a chance to speak to the Zelda developers, and naturally the subject of the timeline came up. As Stephen explains it:
At a group Q&A with reporters on Sunday, Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma was asked where the game fit into the franchise timeline. Aonuma said he didn't want to say much about the story at the moment but said he'd stare a hint. He noted that that the T-shirt he was wearing showed the symbol for the Sheikah stones and that it was the same one from The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. (In Breath of the Wild, the reawakened Link uses a high-tech item called the "Sheikah slate"). Aonuma also reminded people that, at the start of this game, Link is told he's been asleep for 100 years. He teased: "You can decide what this means."
If nothing else, the theory about this being a previous Link seems on the money, and there's definitely a connection to Ocarina of Time. I leave the rest of the theorising to you, Zelda fans.