When we talk about Breath of the Wild 2, we first need to acknowledge just how absurd the Zelda timeline is. You’ve got a couple of games at the start, and then the story splits off into three independent branches: the hero is defeated, the hero is a triumphant child, and the hero is a triumphant adult. The best bit about this is that Nintendo doesn’t even develop Zelda games in any particular order. For example, Majora’s Mask came out in 2000, then five other Zelda games in different timelines came out, and then Twilight Princess – a direct sequel to Majora’s Mask – launched in 2006. Madness.
The most recent Zelda game to hit (virtual) shop shelves was Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. In true Zelda fashion, Age of Calamity is set 100 years prior to the game that came out before it – the sequel of which is due to be the next Zelda game to launch after it. It’s confusing!
It’s so confusing, in fact, that right now people are pretty concerned about whether or not Breath of the Wild 2 will even work. Fortunately, Age of Calamity and Breath of the Wild actually do make a lot of sense when examined alongside one another, and we’re going to dive into just how viable and potentially excellent Breath of the Wild 2 could be.
Obviously this article contains spoilers for Breath of the Wild and Age of Calamity, and probably loads of other Zelda games as well. You’ve been warned.
The Difference Between Breath Of The Wild And Age Of Calamity
Breath of the WIld is waaaaaay at the end of the Zelda timeline, and has largely established itself in a Zelda canon of its own. This is because all of the previous games exist in Breath of the Wild’s timeline, but it’s impossible to distinguish between which ones actually happened and which ones are just myths.
Breath of the Wild transpires after the Great Calamity, which plunged Hyrule at its most advanced back into medieval times. Rip Van Linkle wakes up after a 100-year-long nap and realizes, “Shit – Hyrule!” except not that fast because he sort of forgets everything and is a bit of a himbo at the best of times.
Anyway, Breath of the Wild tasks you with saving the four Champions from Ganon’s corruption in order to reclaim power over the Divine Beasts and defeat Calamity Ganon once and for all. Once you kick his malice-y teeth in, Link and Zelda have a little sit down and say, “Right, time to get Hyrule back on track.”
Enter Guardian egg, Age of Calamity’s adorable baby death robot. What happens here is that as Ganon is in the process of smashing up Hyrule, Zelda sends her little robot pal back through a portal in time in order to warn Zelda From The Past about the fact that the four Champions were going to die if they did it the exact same way all over again.
So, in Age of Calamity, the four Champions don’t do it the same way all over again, meaning that they kick the Blights of Ganon up their blighty arses and live to tell the tale – which means Nintendo can finally give us the Urbosa game we deserve. The jewelry in the Breath of the Wild 2 trailer is actually Gerudo jewelry, which is confirmation that yes, Breath of the Wild 2 is an Urbosa game, cheers, have a nice day (It’s not really an Urbosa game, sadly).
But this does introduce a very obvious and difficult conflict of interest. If Ganon destroys Hyrule in Breath of the Wild, but Terrako uses time travel to prevent him from doing that in Age of Calamity – canonically set before Breath of the Wild – then what’s the story with Breath of the Wild 2? Has Ganon been pushing daisies for 100 years or ten minutes?
The easy answer is that Age of Calamity is from a totally different series and isn’t canon. This is actually pretty likely, although I think it’s also really disappointing, because this dual-timeline tees up what I reckon could be one of the best Zelda games ever made.
How Breath Of The Wild And Age Of Calamity Can Both Lead To Breath Of The Wild 2
There are some very interesting details in the trailer embedded above. First of all, Link and Zelda are clearly exploring some ancient ruins – potentially the same ones that originally warned the Hylians about the return of Calamity Ganon.
The first point of interest is Link’s mount. It looks a bit like an elephant, but is obviously far too small to be Vah Ruta. The Zelda fauna it most resembles is probably the sand seals – although it obviously isn’t one, given that it has horns on the sides of its head as opposed to tusks protruding from its teeth.
Still, its resemblance to sand seals is remarkable, because its hardy exterior is likely well-suited to the harsh deserts of Gerudo Valley. How do we know this is Gerudo Valley? Well, as mentioned above, the jewelry worn by the skeleton in the trailer is distinctly Gerudo, and although some Gerudo women are known to marry men from other regions, powerful members of society – like someone fit to be buried in fancy bling in a massive tomb – stay in the valley for life.
I regret to inform you that I think the skeleton here might be Urbosa, and that you’ll have to fight her, Daruk, Mipha, and Revali in Breath of the Wild 2.
Urbosa makes the most sense to show during the trailer. Even if it is a different Gerudo person, Ganondorf is the only Gerudo man to have ever appeared in the series, and has been resurrected approximately 5,000 times. It is not unreasonable to assume that the woman in the trailer is Ganondorf’s reincarnation, or at least a body puppeteered by him – after all, there is malice festering all throughout the ruins, and malice means Calamity Ganon.
But the reason this could be a bigger thing is because a twist like this wouldn’t even be new territory for Zelda. If Age of Calamity’s timeline prevented the rise of Ganon and they all lived happily ever after, then what happens to Breath of the Wild? If Daruk wasn’t killed by Fireblight Ganon, then who helped us to defeat him 100 years later? It’s worth remembering that at the end of Breath of the Wild, Link and Zelda acknowledge that all four Champions’ spirits have passed on – but they actually lived on in an alternate timeline.
Shadow Link, Dark Link, Link’s Shadow — What About Shadow Champions?
What I’m getting at here is that the four Champions’ bodies are now husks tied to no past or future, and the only thing remaining in them is perhaps that one teeny tiny piece of malice not purged by Link in Breath of the Wild. Somewhat paradoxically, defeating Ganon in an alternate timeline where the Champions survive isolates Link in Zelda in a future no longer tethered to the same past – it’s not unreasonable to assume that this could play into the writing of Breath of the Wild 2. After all, something needs to change to justify the sequel’s existence in the first place, given that we need a solid reason as to how and why Ganon has been revived for the 5,001st time (or we could do everyone a favour and bring back Vaati, the best villain).
This kind of structure has existed in multiple Zelda games before. In A Link to the Past, Link needs to travel back and forth between his world and the Dark World – in which he is a cute little pink rabbit – in order to save Zelda from Agahnim (who – and you’d never guess this – is also actually Ganon). In A Link Between Worlds, Link must travel between Hyrule and Lorule to save Zelda from Yuga (also Ganon!) In Twilight Princess, Link needs to work alongside Midna in order to separate Hyrule from the Twilight Realm (and guess who shows up at the end!). Basically, alternate worlds is a storytelling device that Zelda has already heavily indulged in.
On a somewhat different note, Four Swords Adventures introduces lore that backs all of this up. Ganon is reborn as a member of the Gerudo tribe – something I mentioned earlier. On top of that, he uses the Dark Mirror from the Temple of Darkness to conjure Shadow Link (who is not the same as Dark Link or Link’s Shadow, for what it’s worth). Age of Calamity already proved that Ganon can summon wraiths based on the Champions, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that he could do the same in Breath of the Wild 2 – especially given that this power is also regularly present in the mainline series. It’s obviously worth remembering that Four Swords Adventures turned the Four Knights of Hyrule into Big Dark Stalfos – honestly, the groundwork for a Breath of the Wild sequel where all of the good guys turn bad has been written in the stars.
Also, guess who is the bad guy in Four Swords Adventures? It’s Vaati! (OK yes, Ganon is there too).
This could be wild speculation – for all I know, Nintendo could quite simply just disregard Age of Calamity. It’s not as if Zelda doesn’t have multiple canonical and non-canonical timelines already. That being said, if Age of Calamity is the tee, Breath of the Wild 2 is the golf ball and heyday Tiger Woods is holding the club. I think it could be a remarkably clever way of both implementing traditional Zelda storytelling while subverting both Age of Calamity and Breath of the Wild’s happy endings. Who knew two happy endings could make a bad one?
Read next: Best Weapon For Every Character In Hyrule Warriors: Age Of Calamity
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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