A huge mystery about The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild has been solved: the game now has an official spot on the series timeline. But as is often true with Nintendo lore, the answer just creates more questions. Fans have been speculating about which branch of the split timeline the game belongs to since it launched over a year ago. The answer is a vague "all of them but also none of them."
The timeline of the Zelda games has been subject to debate for many years. Every game introduces new tech, new geography, and even entire new species to Hyrule, making it hard to draw a sensible line between events. Things got clearer when Nintendo published the Hyrule Historia, an official guide to Zelda lore with an actual timeline. It turns out that Ocarina Of Time Link's time-travel hijinks created three separate timelines.
That should have been the end of timeline debates. But then Breath Of The Wild came out. It freely mixes elements from all the separate histories. It has the Rito, a species that only exists in the Wind Waker timeline. It also has geography and landmarks from the other two timelines. Even worse, it came out after the Hyrule Historia, so there was no official word from Nintendo to explain the seeming inconsistencies. Until now.
The Japanese Nintendo website has a digital version of the timeline. It just added Breath Of The Wild, according to Nintendo Life.
Breath Of The Wild is the one on the bottom. As you can see, it isn't connected to anything else. Why is that? It's because the game is at the very end of the known timeline. That could mean many things. It could mean the timelines re-converge at some point, two timelines eventually end leaving one alone, or that Breath Of The Wild belongs to some other timeline that hasn't been revealed yet. The only thing this placement says for sure is that Breath Of The Wild happens far after any other known Zelda game.
The Zelda series producer, Eiji Aonuma, had this to say about the timeline: “Hyrule’s history changes with time. When we think of the next game and what we want to do with it, we might think, 'Oh, this’ll fit well,' and place it neatly into the timeline, but sometimes we... have to change the placement. Actually, the decided history has been tweaked many times.”
So basically, the Zelda team just makes everything up as they go along.