As if the three timelines of the Zelda universe weren't confusing enough, fans are now forced to ask the overcomplicated question: "Where does Breath of the Wild fall in the timeline?" As you can imagine, players have a lot of opinions on how BotW fits into the overall lore of the franchise.
Of course, there are (some) theories about Breath of the Wild that have nothing to do with the game's place in the canon. Some people are wondering what's going on with the Master Sword, whereas others have questions about the Shrine of Resurrection's true purpose.
These Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild fan theories aim to answer all those questions and more. As is the case with most Nintendo fan theories, some of these "what if?" scenarios get pretty in depth, and a few are off the rails even by Zelda's standards. And if you think this is the best Zelda game, make sure you vote it up in our list!
Anyone who's played Breath of the Wild knows that Revali — the hero who represents the Rito people — is not the nicest guy. He's outrageously condescending to everyone (especially Link), and his arrogance is off-putting.
However, Redditor /u/DiddyDubs believes there's a simple explanation for his attitude. Basically, every other hero and/or champion (Link, Zelda, Mipha, Sidon, and Daruk) is born into their role, but there's no evidence to suggest that Revali is of noble stock within the Rito people's hierarchy. The "Champion's Ballad" DLC depicts Revali working diligently to become a hero, whereas the others acquire their talents naturally, so the hero grows to resent the more privileged characters.
Since the Zelda timeline is such a mess, theories exist that place Breath of the Wild in each of the franchise's three timelines. Cutting through the miasma, Redditor /u/accrsd has a neat solution: what if all three timelines merged into one for BotW? Part of the claim is based on the fact that the game apparently references all of the timelines, but the argument is considerably more nuanced than that:
"You see since the 3 timelines would be merging (probably because of a wish made on the triforce) we'd have a very interesting problem on our hands. That of there being 3 copies of the hero's spirit, Ganon, and Zelda. Of course Ganon would try to find a way to become more powerful through this and it would be up to a new link and the 3 hero's spirits to defeat him but not before Ganon completely sheds his mortality and becomes Calamity Ganon. This in my opinion would also somewhat explain why Zelda in BoTW had such a hard time being able to use her abilities in the past. She'd most likely have burnt out her power sometime in the past, possibly to help stop Calamity Ganon the first time."
Redditor /u/ArtisanBubblegum asks an intriguing question: "What if all the Previous Zelda Games were just dreams that BotW Link was having while in Stasis?" Here's the explanation of the theory:
"As the series goes on, his dreams are diverging more and more from reality, as he has to fill in the gaps made by his lost memories. At the divergence of the timelines, he would be far enough from reality that there could be greater differences between his recurring dreams.
And when he wakes up, he doesn't remember his dreams, as most people will quickly forget their dreams as they wake up.
Making Breath of the Wild the Realty that Link's Adventures are tenuously based on."
Redditor /u/yay855 offers a clever explanation for the complicated timeline created by BotW, theorizing, "Breath of the Wild is the direct result of Hyrule Warriors merging every timeline. It either created a fourth timeline or simply smashed them into a single timeline, one which, as of now, contains two games." The Redditor continues:
"For a quick refresher, [Hyrule Warriors] takes place in a unified timeline created by time travel. Cia, in love with Link and jealous of Zelda, became corrupted by evil and wreaked havoc with the timeline. Because she had great power over time to begin with and was being bolstered with dark magic, she was able to merge all time together, including alternate timelines. This caused every timeline to merge into a single, unified timeline.
It is in this unified timeline that the game takes place in, where Zoras and Rito are separate races, where technology was once omnipresent, and where Ganon has become a manifestation of pure evil."