I’ve spent a stupid, frankly embarrassing amount of time down blupee holes today trying to crack the code hidden in the new Breath of the Wild 2 trailer. Someone spoke to me after I’d watched it at 0.25x speed 50 times in a row and I was like, wait, octaves can go that high? The brain worms are wriggling folks, and I don’t know what to do about it except this: I am going to try to make a case for the fact that Breath of the Wild 2 will feature Link, Ganondorf, and Zelda as playable characters, and that as well as chronologically being the last game in the series, it’s also the first one – sort of.
Are you still here? Has my outlandish raving not deterred you yet? Excellent, because now we’re about to go full big brain and party like we’re Sherlink Holmes. We obviously know we’re going to play as Link in Breath of the Wild 2. As we saw in the most recent trailer, he’s got that funky glowing arm that is absolutely derived from Irish mythology. We’ve also seen skeleton man Ganon in both trailers, as well as the eponymous Princess Zelda. Do you know what all three of these characters have in common? The Triforce. Do you know what’s not in the first Breath of the Wild game? The Triforce. Do you know what the most ubiquitous, beloved, and globally recognizable theme, symbol, and concept of The Legend of Zelda is? The Triforce, baby.
Before I go into why I believe all three of these characters are going to be playable, allow me to weave some necessary connective tissue for the context of why this is simultaneously the first and last game in the convoluted Zelda timeline(s). We know that this is the Ocarina of Time version of Ganondorf from the style of his forehead bling, which means it’s also the Twilight Princess Ganon. Further proof of this can be found in the fact that Dark Beast Ganon is the last boss in Breath of the Wild – the only other time we see him in that form throughout the series is in Twilight Princess. Also, what’s the difference between Malice and the fog in Faron Woods, really? Sure, they’re a little bit distinct, but… are they?
The connection between Twilight Princess and Breath of the Wild is an important one. The Dark World – referred to as the Twilight Realm in Twilight Princess, but confirmed to be the same thing in Hyrule Historia – does an enormous amount of heavy lifting when it comes to explaining why Ganondorf has more lives than a cluster of cats. This is where the timeline stuff gets a bit murkier than usual, though, because we’ve also got the Dark World in other games like A Link to the Past.
For those unacquainted or just frankly not bothered with the Zelda timeline, here’s a brief explainer: Ocarina of Time messes everything up. Despite having launched 23 years ago, it’s the fourth game in the series in chronological order and transpires during the era of the Hero of Time – hey, that’s the guy in Breath of the Wild’s name! After this, the Zelda timeline splits into three different paths: the Fallen Hero timeline, the Child timeline, and the Adult timeline. All the adults in the audience will know that the Child timeline is the best one – it’s not even close.
The first game in the series, though, is Skyward Sword, which is set way, way, way, way before Ocarina of Time. The pretext for the story is that a trio of Goddesses created something known as the Triforce, composed of the essences of Courage (Link), Wisdom (Zelda), and Power (Ganondorf). It’s worth noting that the Triforce is never directly referenced in Breath of the Wild, and that the start of what happens next is essentially the first game’s story leading into the sequel. A demon named Demise seeks to take the Triforce for himself, but the Goddess Hylia intervenes. She wins, but the land of Hyrule is decimated, at which point the Hylians take to the skies to live out their lives on Skyloft.
There’s loads more details worth delving into in terms of the story, but you can just look it up on Wikipedia – we’re into cracking a case here and hometime is in an hour. Skyward Sword features time travel, with Zelda and Impa literally heading to the past at one point. A lot of people focus on the Ocarina of Time whenever the idea of flitting between timelines is floated, but the phenomenon exists prior to that, and I reckon we’re going to see the creation of it in Breath of the Wild 2.
As I mentioned earlier, I spent a weird amount of time rewatching the trailer this morning, to the point where I noticed something pretty fascinating. If you watch the trailer, you’ll see that Link’s new arm allows him to pass through solid objects. When this happens, the music sounds like it reverses itself, so I decided to reverse the trailer. Here’s what I got.
When viewed backwards, Link drops down through the ground instead of launching himself upwards. This is the sequence where the music is reversed, mind, which feels like a bit of a hint to say, “Hey, psst! Reverse the video, yeah?” Anyway, as Link drops down, the descent is perfectly segued into a single drop of water falling towards the ground. The fluidity of this is perfect in terms of timing, positioning, and just sheer context. It’s a neat little hint towards time travel, which is nothing new in the Zelda universe, but is perhaps going to play a more prominent role this time around.
Why? Well, as our own Eric Switzer argued, there are quite clearly two different Links in the new trailer. The more I think about it, though, the more I believe one of them is someone else. I was fuming in the work chat earlier on when nobody believed me that Zelda was in the trailer outside of just falling down a hole, but now I’m actually convinced that one of our two heroes – the one in the sky – is actually Ganondorf from the past, here to create the future.
I mean, we all know now that there are clearly two distinct sections of Breath of the Wild 2 – one in the sky, one on the ground. We also know that Zelda isn’t afraid to experiment with time, meaning that these are not necessarily simultaneous narratives. The Skyward Sword sections could transpire way before the Breath of the Wild ones, or vice versa depending on how early the cloud-hopping parts are set. I know I said Breath of the Wild 2 could be the first game in the series, but that’s in chronological order as per the invention of time travel, which means it is after Skyward Sword but also in a weird way has the potential to occur before it. Jesus, this Zelda stuff is tiring, isn’t it?
It’s worth noting that Ganondorf as we know him has always been a Gerudo, although the Gerudo don’t exist at the time of Skyward Sword – it’s just the Hylians. Ganondorf is reincarnated as a Gerudo, sure, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a Hylian in a previous life – in fact, that’s the only logical solution. As he says to Link in Twilight Princess, “When this world brings forth another marked as you are, know too that it shall also be visited by one of my blood. Do not think this ends here – the history of light and shadow will be written in blood!” Ganon’s whole deal is dying and coming back over and over again, just like Link, Zelda, and Impa.
Plus, Ganon is technically in Skyward Sword as Demise, proving that he lived before and slowly became corrupted. By focusing on a Hylian 10,000 years ago instead of Link, we get to witness the fall of Ganon, the man, in direct symmetry with the resurrection of Ganon in Breath of the Wild 2. The theoretical possibilities here are wild – is Ganon in the past trying to reckon with his future self? Is he with or against Link and Zelda? Is he just a regular guy who chases Cuccos around for the craic?
Then there’s the arm, isn’t there – the scene in the trailer where Link is lying down topless, presumably in the Shrine of Resurrection. Is Ganon there – as in, a different Ganon? Maybe he wants to heal him earlier to prevent the impending doom of Hyrule. Maybe he wants to spark him earlier to ensure it. Again, it’s pointless debating the narrative beats here, what matters is that the fact there are sky sections at all proves that this is around the time of Skyward Sword, which is further compounded by Nintendo’s decision to remaster that exact game a year before Breath of the Wild 2. It’s only ten years old, we still don’t have classics like Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, and The Wind Waker on Switch, and I doubt it’s in many Zelda fans’ top five games. It’s required reading for Breath of the Wild 2.
And again, Ganon has to exist here, prior to becoming Demise, prior to becoming Ganondorf. Of course he was a Hylian once, and of course this story takes place at the time he was one. So now, onto bigger and better things – why does this mean that Link, Ganondorf, and Zelda will all be playable? Well, we’ve already established that Link is, and that Hylian Ganon is here, so what’s with hiding Link’s face throughout the entire trailer? Seems a bit weird, doesn’t it – you’d think Nintendo would be all over plastering their best looking himbo’s mug over E3, and yet all we got was a ponytail and an occasional earring or two – believe me, I checked for more. It’s almost as if *cough* is definitely as if *cough* one of the characters here isn’t Link, and with all of the above context, it doesn’t make sense for it to be anyone else, either.
So now we know we’ve got two narratives that are not occurring in parallel to one another, at least in terms of the recorded year they transpire in. I expect loads of jumping through millennia or whatever, but still, there is more than one setting for Breath of the Wild 2. Now let’s go back to the fact that as far as we know, the Triforce isn’t in the first Breath of the Wild. So if Breath of the Wild 2 is both before and after Skyward Sword thanks to the invention of time travel, and the Triforce is in Skyward Sword, it looks as if Breath of the Wild 2 will see the invention of not just time travel, but the original inception of the Triforce into The Legend of Zelda series. Again, wow Zelda is exhausting.
So, who are the bearers of the Triforce? Link, Zelda, and Ganon, for Courage, Wisdom, and Power, respectively. If we’re playing Link and Ganon, we’re sure as shit going to be playing Zelda too. If not, I’ll riot. Honestly.
It’s a bit rubbish that all we saw Zelda do in the most recent trailer was fall, but I reckon that’s just a red herring, innit. We got to see her face as she once again got sidelined from the story so Link has someone to rescue. Except I reckon Zelda is going to be fine, and that she, like Link and Ganon, will play a key role in creating the Triforce the series is so renowned for. I mean, come on – she played a blinder in Age of Calamity to the point that everyone forgot who Link was. He’s that quiet lad at the table who you think has gone home, but he’s been there for the last three hours, sipping his beer, occasionally emitting a giggle before burying his head in his pint. Zelda, on the other hand, is the life of the party. I like Link, by the way, I’m just having a bit of a laugh.
I’m over 2,000 words in and I’m unsure if my brain has reached excessive levels of absurdity or if I’ve cracked a code that would put Turing to shame. Just know this: I firmly believe that Breath of the Wild 2 will feature triple protagonists, tell the story of Demise, show the creation of the Triforce, and implement the time travel necessary for justifying how much bullshit exists in what is quite possibly the most complex and convoluted timeline in the history of fiction. Anyway, bye – if you want to chat about why I’m right or wrong hit me on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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