Hyrule Weekly #4: The Fallen Hero Theory for Breath of the Wild

– This post was originally published on 11th February 2017. It is being archived and updated here, which is why sections may seem out of date. For more info read here! New entries in this series of articles are on the way… –

It’s getting rather close to the release of Breath of the Wild. We’ve waited years, but now we are less than a month from the launch of both the game and the Nintendo Switch on March 3rd. Yet, somehow, we don’t know many concrete facts about the story – or do we? That’s what Hyrule Weekly will be getting into right here, now that we have more to analyse – for example, the very cinematic trailer from the Nintendo Switch presentation in January:

So, it’s time to try and connect the dots a little bit. Previously Hyrule Weekly has theorised that Breath of the Wild could be set in The Imprisoning War; can we make a different, more informed assessment with what we know now? The objective of this is to give you more rock-solid information about the game, as well as theorising what it means.

Hyrule History

Let’s start with the wider setting first. In that prior Hyrule Weekly, we made some strong points for why Breath of the Wild has to be in the Fallen Hero timeline after Ocarina of Time. This is where Link failed in his quest to kill Ganon and save Hyrule, and goes on to be the setting for A Link to the Past. What we’ve learned since June last year actually backs up a lot of this.

This could be the aftermath to Link and Zelda failing to defeat Ganon

Take GameInformer’s rapid-fire interview with Zelda‘s creator Shigeru Miyamoto and producer Eiji Aonuma. Check out this exchange, plain as can be, for whether or not the new Zelda takes place after Ocarina of Time or not:

GameInformer Senior Editor Ben Reeves: Does Breath of the Wild take place before or after Ocarina of Time?

Eiji Aonuma: After.

That’s that cleared up in a no-nonsense fashion, then. It gets a bit more tricky when trying to 100% confirm whether the game is set in one specific timeline, however. Again, to go back to The Imprisoning War theory, we established a few reasons for why the process of elimination points to the Fallen Hero timeline. Firstly, the Wind Waker/Phantom Hourglass/Spirit Tracks line results in a flooded Hyrule and a discovery of a new land, and Breath of the Wild is definitely set in the land of Hyrule. Also, the Sheikah – so prominent in the footage we have seen of the upcoming game – have only ever appeared before and in Ocarina of Time or in the Fallen Hero timeline.

What’s Changed

Now, there’s some really huge information that has come out in recent times that gives us important backstory for Breath of the Wild. There is a certain “Relic of Hyrule: Calamity Canon Tapestry and weather-worn map” item (catchy, eh?) that comes with both the Special and Master Editions of the game (the Master Edition that is not available in Europe… why Nintendo, why?) that has unwittingly exposed said backstory.

A view of the Sheikah text (via IGN)

After the aforementioned Nintendo Switch presentation, there was a Treehouse stream showing off the console and the games on it. When discussing Zelda, this item was shown off; while the map was impressive in its size and detail, the other side had Sheikah language that was brilliantly decoded in the Discord chat of the Zelda YouTuber Zeltik. The video showing off the work is below:

The tapestry reads like this in English – bear in mind there is always room for slight error, as it is translated from Sheikah to Japanese to English: (via Eurogamer):

“Hylians pass stories of a destined time long past where multiple races lived and worked together in harmony. The Sheikah Tribe’s blue aura breathed through the land and this mutual prosperity continue until a cataclysmic disaster struck. The Hero and the Princess attempted to seal the terror which became known as the Calamity Ganon. Divine Beasts awoke from four directions and deployed a mechanical army which made the King and his people fearful. They fractured Ganon’s power and sealed him but the Shiekah were banished from the land ever since.”

When you read through this with the events of the Fallen Hero timeline in mind, multiple elements match up. Let’s go through it in more detail.

A Fallen Hero

For starters, you may think that the description of a scenario in “harmony” doesn’t really make sense. If Ganon won, how can the world be in harmony? The secret is that we may be thinking of this all in the wrong way. This backstory doesn’t start AFTER Ocarina of Time; it starts during that game. The period of harmony is before Ganon managed to gain access to the Triforce in that infamous cutscene midway through Ocarina of Time – in other words, when “a cataclysmic disaster struck”. Still with me?

Zelda protecting Link

The backstory then continues to describe what we know from that timeline. “The Hero” (Link) and “the Princess” (Zelda) are described as trying but failing to stop this threat. Doesn’t that sound very familiar? It’s all fitting into place for the Fallen Hero timeline, and The Imprisoning War takes over to match up from here. To fully catch up on this part of Zelda history, do check out the theory article linked earlier or the Zelda Wiki page on the subject.

The Imprisoning War tells us that Ganon was then sealed away by the Seven Sages in the absence of the Hero and the Princess. Our information on this period came from A Link to the Past‘s manual, which confessed that that part of history was “”obscured by the mists of time, and became legend”” (via ZeldaInformer). Even so, the general events of Breath of the Wild‘s backstory and The Imprisoning War have a stark similarity to them.

Guardians of Hyrule

The creations of the Sheikah used to try and defeat Ganon were turned against their owners by Calamity Ganon’s corruption, as stated in Zeltik’s video. In The Imprisoning War, residents of Hyrule were corrupted by the Dark World Ganon was sealed in, becoming monsters in his army. This army then set upon the land, where the Knights of Hyrule managed to protect the Seven Sages until they could seal the Dark World once more. We may have actually seen this very sequence in the recent trailers, where we see the turned Guardians – of Sheikah creation – destroying the civilisation of Hyrule.

Calamity Ganon attacking from the Dark World?

The successful resolution of the Knights of Hyrule and the Seven Sages has such little known about it, and it’s very possible that we could be seeing the true events of that time in Breath of the Wild. With the failure of their creations to save Hyrule from Calamity Ganon, the Sheikah could look to a dormant, hidden Link (who fell against Ganon in Ocarina of Time) to help them retake the four main Sheikah protectors on the “Relic of Hyrule…” from earlier. Unbeknownst to Hyrule history and Ganon, Link and Zelda may have teamed up with the Sheikah to rally against Ganon and support Hyrule’s battle against Calamity Ganon. Only this way can Link and Zelda still complete their destinies to defeat this incarnation of Demise from Skyward Sword.

In addition, this would make sense as the dungeons of this open world Zelda game, with the corners of the map each holding on dungeon. The final boss could be the Shiekah protector, and defeating it removes the corruption in order for it to help you in your final battle against Ganon. This theory works for both the story and the gameplay, which lends it a bit more believablity; it even fits with Zelda’s inclusion. If we treat Link as the version from Ocarina of Time, waking from a 100-year sleep, then Zelda could also have been conserved in this way. As part of the Sheikah, she may wake up to see their attempts to save Hyrule backfire horrifically and only help Ganon’s murder of the citizens of Hyrule – Zelda’s citizens. This seems like a good justification for the distress we see her in in the Nintendo Switch presentation trailer.

Is this the result of the Shiekah’s failed attempts to save Hyrule?

The further we get into the areas of the timeline that don’t have games to explain them, the murkier connections get. However, there are clear similarities that potentially link (ba-dum tish) Breath of the Wild to the Fallen Hero timeline and, subsequently, The Imprisoning War. It’s a notable event that leads to A Link to the Past, and honestly it’d just be a brilliant, epic setting for a Zelda game. Let’s get that bit of history cleared up, yeah?

It’s all just a theory, though. Maybe Ganon is secretly Tingle. Calamity Tingle is behind it all! March 3rd is so close, so we’ll know very soon!

It was a very story-heavy Hyrule Weekly this time around, and we’re going to go in an opposite way next week. A community article is on the way! See you next Saturday, when we will be one more week closer to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch and Wii U!

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