In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild–Creating a Champion, the latest art book from Dark Horse, Eiji Aonuma reflects on Breath of the Wild and the way players choose their own ways of playing the game and adventuring through Hyrule. These reflections bring him to the Zelda team’s philosophy on Breath of the Wild‘s place on the timeline, or lack thereof.
He writes, “In books like the recently released The Legend of Zelda: Encyclopedia, we revealed where each Zelda game fell on a timeline and how their stories related, but we didn’t do that for Breath of the Wild. There is a reason for that…We realized 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.”
This approach definitely falls in line with Nintendo’s usual development process of focusing on fun mechanics first, then deciding which IP is best suited to those mechanics and figuring out the lore later, if at all. He goes on to write, “We want players to be able to continue having fun imagining this world even after they are finished with the game, so, this time, we decided that we would avoid making clarifications.”
Nintendo fans pouring over Hyrule’s lore trying to figure out how Breath of the Wild could include both Majora’s Mask and Ritos will have to keep speculating and drawing their own conclusions. It looks like Aonuma and the Zelda team aren’t going to provide any definitive answers anytime soon.