The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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Name: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Japanese: ゼルダの伝説 ブレス オブ ザ ワイルド, Hepburn: Zeruda no Densetsu: Buresu obu za Wairudo)
Abbreviation(s): BotW
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Reveal date:
Release date: March 3, 2017
External links:
See also:
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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Japanese: ゼルダの伝説 ブレス オブ ザ ワイルド, Hepburn: Zeruda no Densetsu: Buresu obu za Wairudo) is a 2017 action-adventure video game released for the Wii U and as a flagship title for the launch of the Nintendo Switch. Breath of the Wild is a main installment in the long-running Legend of Zelda franchise, set at the very end of the Zelda timeline as it is currently known to stand.



The protagonist, Link, wakes from a hundred-year sleep to embark on a quest to save the land of Hyrule.


Breath of the Wild simultaneously marks both a departure from previous Zelda titles and a return to the series' roots. Like The Legend of Zelda (1986), and generally unlike the Zelda games that were released in the thirty years following, BotW features an open world that may be freely explored with limited linear progression. Players may experiment with the environment and complete side quests, completing side quests, gaining tools, and learning lore along the way.

Reception and popularity

While all main Zelda games have been well-received and overall beloved, it has long been tradition for old guard Zelda fans to turn somewhat their noses up at every game released for the home console since the groundbreaking Ocarina of Time; Majora's Mask was disliked for the limited time mechanic; then Wind Waker was disliked for being "childish" and "cartoony" compared to the mature OoT and MM; then Twilight Princess was too "edgy", "drab", and derivative of OoT, with the graphics ageing poorly compre to the stylized WW; then Skyward Sword was reviled for its motion controls, lack of exploration, and tedious backtracking; and so on.

Not so with Breath of the Wild, which upon release was basically a universal smash-hit among Zelda fans, both new and returning. Within a relatively short time, it became the best-selling Zelda game of all time and one of the best-selling video games of all time, outselling even the much-revered Ocarina of Time.

Speculation and theories


Breath of the Wild's place on the shared Zelda timeline remains unclear. Officially, the game is placed far after the events of the other games in the series; however, the developers have deliberately left it ambiguous which of the three timelines it follows. Series producer Eiji Aonuma has explained that the team behind Breath of the Wild had "realised that people were enjoying imagining the story that emerged from the fragmental imagery we were providing. If we defined a restricted timeline, then there would be a definitive story, and it would eliminate the room for imagination, which wouldn’t be as fun."[1] Aonuma and director Hidemaro Fujibayashi have also stated that the timeline is constantly changing, which they view as "new information and truths being uncovered" rather than contradicting or changing canon.[2]

As a result, timeline theories continue, especially regarding Breath of the Wild's placement, as the game features hallmarks of each of the three timeline branches. Some fans have theorised that this means the timelines have merged at some point after the rest of the games in the series but before Breath of the Wild. There are various theories about how this could have occurred; one such theory suggests that Hyrule Warriors should be considered canon, as it features a merge of the timelines within the events of the game. Other fans feel that trying to create a definitive timeline is pointless or contradicts the wishes of the creators, and that the games should instead be considered as occasionally referencing each other but ultimately independent of one another.

The Zonai

After the release of Breath of the Wild, the Zonai have become a popular topic for theories about the game. The Zonai barely feature in the spoken lore of the game, instead being hinted at by item descriptions and their distinctive architecture; this makes them an attractive target for theorists, who enjoy trying to figure out who they were and how their society met its end.

The release of the teaser trailer for Breath of the Wild 2 has resulted in an increased interest in the Zonai among Breath of the Wild fans, as the trailer features Link and Zelda travelling through a cavern system filled with stonework created in the Zonai's distinctive style.

The Zonai are a particularly common topic of discussion among Zelda theorists on Youtube, where some theorists have even created full-length documentary web series covering the various theories on their origins. One such series by NintendoBlackCrisis is available here: video one, video two.

Fanon and tropes

Fan works


Fan fiction

Fan art


Fan film


External links

Fan communities and archives



  1. ^ Lloyd, R. Eiji Aonuma explains ambiguity of Breath of the Wild's timeline placement in Creating a Champion book, Zelda Dungeon, 22 November 2018. (Accessed 9 June 2021.)
  2. ^ Schreier, J. Breath of the Wild gets official placement on the Zelda timeline, but there are shenanigans, Kotaku, 6 August 2018. (Accessed 9 June 2021.),