E3 2016 Features

The Legend of Zelda: Exploring the Wild Part 1

The hype for what is possibly the biggest Nintendo game to date is buzzing around like crazy. Of course, we have seen so little on the game and there seems to be so much to experience about the lore and world of The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. Let us explore all that we know so far and I will try to put some pieces together from all the evidence known. Perhaps, we will gain a better perspective of what Breath of the Wild is all about.

This time, I will explore the lore and the universe of Zelda. From the scarce details and evidence seen in trailers, in the demos I played at E3 as well as the historical facts, we will try to understand the mysteries behind the Resurrection of Link, the Sheikah Tribe and Hyrule itself. Without further ado, let us dive right in.

Now, we all saw that gorgeous trailer where they finally unveiled the final name of Zelda Wii U/NX. Of course, the fitting title, The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, is very appropriate for the promises it brings. This game wishes to evolve the franchise to a whole new level and the world seems to be dominated by Mother Nature. Will Link have to fight through the wilderness in order to save Hyrule? First, let us consider the land’s current state.

The State of Hyrule:

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The land of Hyrule is in a state of anarchy where there is no longer a kingdom governing Hyrule and nature has covered the land. Many of the buildings that served a purpose to what we have come to know about the kingdom and its people has now been laid to waste. The Temple of Time is also deserted and during my playthrough, I witnessed only a statue of the Goddess Hylia there; carved in the same way as the giant statue in Skyward Sword.

Probably, the faith in the three goddesses has been long forgotten by most of the land dwellers today. The world lives divided. We saw this phenomenon in another major Zelda game where the world has forgotten about the goddesses and the Triforce: the Wind Waker. This leads me to believe that this game takes place in a time so far ahead that the people had enough time to forget their faith. Breath of the Wild may, most probably, set itself at the bottom of the Zelda timeline. (More on this later though.)

100 years ago, Link fell asleep in the Shrine of Resurrection and calamity ganon was laying Hyrule to waste. It is a thing and not Ganon himself, perhaps a primitive manifestation of Demise’s hatred. It couldn’t be defeated and so was sealed within Hyrule Castle. Its power grows and Link must stop it before it ravages the land once again.

Besides the Temple of Time, there is, of course, the castle that we all noticed; which I believe it to be none of other than Hyrule Castle or at least, what is left of it. No one in the land approaches the castle as it is cursed and covered by a dark mist. This dark mist is actually the barrier that keeps calamity ganon trapped. You will notice I didn’t cap “calamity ganon” and don’t worry, this is not a typo. Calamity ganon is referred to as such by the Sheikah Monks you meet at the end of the Shrine trials and they are determined to stopping it at all cost.

The Cast So Far:

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For the time being, there aren’t many faces seen in Breath of the Wild. This was done on purpose to prevent as many spoilers as possible. So, let us review the ones we do know.

The Old Man:

The very first NPC we encounter in the demo is none other than an Old Man. This is a clear reference to the original Legend of Zelda game where Link meets a mysterious old man who simply says one of the most iconic statements in gaming: “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.”

Now, this man is clearly more than what he seems to be. Beyond the obvious reference, this man has been noted by many to bear a strange resemblance to King Daphnes, ruler of Hyrule, and he really does look like him. Is he a descendant of the king? or perhaps something else, such as a sage of some sort? Time will tell.

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The Mysterious Female Voice:

When Link wakes, a voice is heard asking the hero to wake up and save the world from danger once again. She also names Link by his actually name; which means there won’t be custom names anymore.

I personally believe this voice to be none other than Zelda herself as no one has a closer connection with the spirit of the hero than the mortal incarnation of the goddess Hylia herself. If you have read the comic found in the official Hyrule Historia book by Nintendo, you will see the events that start the eternal reincarnation of the goddess and her chosen hero.

The Sheikah Tribe:

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The Sheikah tribe has always proven to be one of the most, if not the most secretive and mysterious people in Hyrule’s history. There is no record of how they came to be the protectors of the Royal family or of the Goddess Hylia (as seen in Skyward Sword). Furthermore, they always seem to be in small numbers and for some reason, they are the only ones who ever sport red eyes such as Sheik or Impa in her Skyward Sword and Ocarina of Time incarnations.

Furthermore, they always have had three deciding characteristics, based on past games. The first is they are charged with protecting the mortal form of Hylia, Zelda, and then the Royal family of Hyrule. Second, they are heavily associated with the element of Shadow by the way they operate in mysterious ways and never taking the spotlight. Finally, they have knowledge unparalleled by any of the other people and so, have developed technologies not seen elsewhere. It is also implied that the Sheikah are the ones who created the technology used in Lanayru Desert all those centuries ago.

This is clearly manifested in Breath of the Wild with the introduction of the many clearly marked Sheikah machinery and gadgets such as the Sheikah Slate which interacts with Shrines and Towers. The use of runes allows for the use of sophisticated bombs and tools and are given to Link by Monks found deep in the Shrines.

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These monks are determined to aid those who wish to stop calamity ganon with all they can. Furthermore, there are many of them as they are many Shrines as well. However, I feel it is very important to note that they cannot be found unless one has a Sheikah Slate to enter these Shrines in the first place.

Link:

The hero who wakes up after a long slumber. He actually wakes after having slept for 100 years. Also, Link appears to have forgotten much about his past and is guided by a female voice who begs him to remember and return the light to Hyrule.

Based on the circumstances, this could prove the most interesting version of the hero yet. We can only assume he has ties with the Sheikah tribe since he was sleeping their shrine and has been given a Sheikah Slate as well. He makes use of their technology and enters their secret areas all over Hyrule in Breath of the Wild. This leads me to one of two different conclusions: Link is either a Sheikah himself or is at least raised and/or trained by them. This would explain how this Link is much more agile compared to past versions of the hero we are used to seeing.

Calamity ganon:

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The only clear villain we have seen so far is none of other than this mysterious entity. It is referred to as an “it” and even the monks speak of its name with lower case letters. I believe this is really to highlight that this thing is not conscious or a physical being per se. However, it is still a danger and it will ravage the land as soon as it breaks free after having built up enough strength.

Of course, its name does come from its oddly similar shaping to the Demon Lord Ganon that has been acting as the hero’s recurring nemesis. Not much is known about this evil presence and we do not yet know if calamity ganon may become Ganon himself or something else. The more interesting part is finding out what unleashed calamity ganon in the first place.

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Where or When Are We?

The million dollar question ever since Nintendo had officially unveiled the Zelda timeline is undoubtedly: “Where in the timeline does the game take place?” It is important for us players to know as we are eager to find out more about the universe that we love so dearly. Now, obviously, Producer Eiji Aonuma has done well to meticulously prevent spoilers and only leave us hints for possible timeline placements. So, let us draw a suggestive theory that might situate us better in the universe of Zelda.

100 Years of Trouble:

Now, there are many elements that could offer some light on the question. The first thing is to realize that this game will taking place along a whole century of events. Let’s start with the present! When Link wakes, we know that the kingdom is no longer alive and the castle and monuments have all but become shadows of their former selves. The people have moved on from the times of old and the monarchy is no more. This means that in the span of a century, the people have forgotten the golden ways.

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This leads to the events that took place 100 years ago. We know that calamity ganon began its onslaught in those times and was deemed too powerful at the time. So, a group of strong mages (perhaps the Monks?) have banded together to seal the force inside the castle. This forced the kingdom to leave its place and build new life elsewhere. With the monarchy gone, new societies and cities were built. This could be seen as the defeat of the Hyrulian kingdom.

Elsewhere, we know that the Sheikah tribe works in secrecy to do all that they can to protect the Royal family at all cost. I believe that Link may have been their secret weapon. Link was trained under them and when they believed that calamity ganon was unstoppable, they asked Link to slumber until he is ready to take on calamity ganon in the future. He might have been some sort of final attempt to cleanse the castle from evil and bring back the light to Hyrule. The mysterious voice asked Link to shine the light back on Hyrule when he wakes and that is exactly what he will do.

Historical Prints:

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At this point, we know that the kingdom of Hyrule was still present when Link fell asleep in the first place. Furthermore, we meet a certain type of creatures that will seem familiar to those who played Wind Waker: the Koroks. These wooden creatures were revealed to be descendants of the Kokiri from Ocarina of Time. It seems they took on these wooden bodies after giving up their humanoid look for Deku Leafs to fly. The fact that they are Koroks and not Kokiri implies that this game is most definitely post-Ocarina of Time.

The map seen in Breath of the Wild is impressively huge and might be the biggest map seen in a game like this. It was said that the map is supposedly nine times the size of the map seen in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. However, does that mean we will not recognize the map? Not at all! Based on the little map I saw during my demo playthrough, I noticed something peculiar.

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This is the map seen during the demo and it constitutes less than 2% of the full map of the game. It was long and hard to traverse this so I can only imagine how exploring I will be doing in 2017. In this map, we were able to see the ruined Temple of Time and from atop the hills, I was able to pinpoint the direction of the castle; it was north of the area. Also, I was able to see what I assume can only be Lake Hylia. On map here, we find the Hylia river make its way West. In the red circle lies a huge lake, so it isn’t crazy to believe that to be Lake Hylia.

That is when it seemed a bit familiar to me and reminded of the map seen in one other game: Twilight Princess. Comparing my findings with the map of Twilight Princess, the approximate location and placement of the Temple of Time, Lake Hylia and Hyrule Castle all seem to fit to an extent. Of course, one must consider the changes in the land as well as the major development focuses the team at Nintendo had to go through in modeling the land.

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The Demon King and The Sword of Evil’s Bane:

Moving on, the evil this time is not necessarily Ganon but a creature that resembles him. Perhaps, once calamity ganon gains enough strength, it will be transform into the real Ganon. Nevertheless, the lack of a physical Ganon does make sense since at the end of Twilight Princess, Ganondorf falls after being impaled by the Master Sword.

The Master Sword is major hint as well. On the title logo of the Breath of the Wild, we see a Master Sword that has rusted and lost its edge. This is the first time the blade has undergone this change. The power of the blade is to repel evil and at the end of Twilight Princess, the sword fulfilled its quest and killed the manifestation of Demise’s hatred.

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This is further evidenced when Link finds the sword in a ruined Temple of Time in Twilight Princess. All has rusted expect for the Master Sword and its pedestal. The blade does not succumb to rust, but this time, it did. It could be implied that the blade lost its divine power after having successfully defeated the evil. If this is the case, it could possibly mean that Breath of the Wild takes place years after Twilight Princess, but before Four Swords Adventures.

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Me enjoying some Zelda

In the end, I do highly advise to take everything lightly, even if you agree or not with my analysis. This is all mere speculation and deduction made based on what I have understood after years of playing Zelda. If you have theories of your own, feel free to share in the comments below and we might be able to arrive at a better idea of what could be really happening in Breath of the Wild.

I do invite you to share this article with your Zelda friends and keep it to IMGMR for more Zelda stuff. Next time, I will cover the technical aspect of the coming game, especially the new gameplay mechanics and elements. Until then, happy gaming!

Categories
E3 2016 FeaturesWii U Features

Gentleman, industry analyst, Smasher and has sworn allegiance to Hyrule, Seif Mazzene is the Executive Editor here at IMGMR.

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