Despite it only being a little over a full year since its release, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is already being considered one of the greatest video games of our time. After the rather unpleasant Skyward Sword, Breath of the Wild was the breath of fresh air The Legend of Zelda needed to thrive in a modern context. It took the tired open world format and it radicalized it into what Nintendo calls “open air.” Nintendo changed the name of the game entirely and offered fans their first taste at true freedom and exploration since the original Legend of Zelda all the way back on the NES.
Breath of the Wild has not been met without criticism, however. While the majority of fans and critics agree that the core gameplay is as solid as it’s going to get, the narrative has been met with mixed results. The fragmented style of storytelling, along with a weaker cast, have made BotW an easy target to be deemed one of the worst stories in the franchise. It leaves much to be desired, with a few plot holes and far too many unresolved threads for its own good. It’s a large stain on an otherwise pristine game.
25 How Did Zelda Fight Ganon For 100 Years?
The fact Zelda fights off Calamity Ganon for an entire century without so much as again is easily one of the strangest aspects of Breath of the Wild’s narrative. Not only is left completely unexplained in-game, there’s absolutely nothing in the series’ lore that can help make sense of the act. It’s easy enough to buy Link sleeping for 100 years given there’s a literal building called the Shrine of Resurrection, but there’s nothing to help make sense of Zelda’s 100 year duel.
When it doubt, though, we turn to the gods. The only way Zelda could have fought off Calamity Ganon for 100 years is with divine intervention on Hylia’s behalf. Skyward Sword establishes Hylia as Zelda’s source soul in the reincarnation cycle, so it’s not impossible for Hylia’s influence to keep Zelda alive for so long. Of course, nothing in the game actually hints at this being the case, so make of it what you will.
24 The Logistics Of The Blood Moon
Although the Blood Moon makes sense in the context of Breath of the Wild, it doesn’t work whatsoever when thinking back on the rest of the series. Zelda claims that the Blood Moon is the result of Ganon’s power peaking. That’s a fine enough justification, but it comes with a problem: Calamity Ganon is supposed to be one of the weaker Ganons.
What came first: Ganon or the Blood Moon?
His resurrection has been botch so many times, that he’s begun losing his sense of identity. The Blood Moon is also a phenomenon that never occurred with previous Ganons. Ganon in A Link to the Past is arguably his strongest depiction in his monster form, yet his power reaching a peak does nothing to the moon. It’s a nice idea, but one that isn’t exactly compatible with the rest of the franchise.
23 The Subtle Changes Of The Gerudo Lore
Introduced as one of Hyrule’s major races in Ocarina of Time, the Gerudo are a predominantly matriarchal society where, either through genetics or the wacky working of fate, a single man is born into the tribe once every 100 years to become king. Ganondorf is that one man in Ocarina of Time, but come Breath of the Wild he’s but a legend.
Only time will tell if Nintendo will bring another male Gerudo into the series.
Not only that, it’s implied by the Gerudos now having a female leader that the 100-year-old prophecy is no longer relevant. While the Gerudo do sell armor for men within the town, there’s no sign that a single man lived there 100 years ago or currently lives there in the game’s story. It could be that Link somehow managed to miss meeting the Gerudo man for that century for whatever reason, but it seems more likely that BotW simply isn’t following this piece of Gerudo lore anymore.
22 Where Did All The Dungeons Go?
Everyone knows that Breath of the Wild lacks in conventional dungeons in regards to the gameplay, but where are the literal, physical dungeons that have existed in every single game? Seriously, this is still Hyrule, right? Where are all the temples? There used to be a Water Temple in Lake Hylia! Is it just gone now? Why isn’t the Forest Temple near the Lost Woods? Why is there no Shadow Temple near Kakariko?
Why are there no temples in general? Did Calamity Ganon just obliterate everything resembling a dungeon so not to confused Link? It’s easily one of the strangest details left out from Breath of the Wild. It makes sense Nintendo wouldn’t want to acknowledge dungeons within the game given the emphasis on Shrines and Divine Beasts, but it seems like such an oversight that serves to make Hyrule feel less real.
21 Link Should Be Allowed In Gerudo Town
Although Gerudo culture is very strict with who can and can’t enter the Gerudo Town, Ocarina of Time sets a precedent for the Gerudo accepting men who prove themselves within the fortress. Upon freeing all the captives and defeating a Gerudo guard four times, the Hero of Time is given a free pass to explore the fortress and make himself welcome. This is a privilege that would make a lot of sense to be given to BotW Link, but never comes to fruition.
The Hero of Time literally invaded the Gerudo and was welcomed with open arms.
In the backstory, nothing implies that Urbosa gave Link, Princess Zelda’s sworn knight, free reign to the town. In the main game, even after helping stop Vah Naboris, Link still isn’t given access to Gerudo Town without a disguise. This would be the perfect reward for clearing the desert’s main quest, but it goes completely ignored. It doesn’t make sense that Link would be allowed in OoT, but not BotW.
20 The Goron Mount Rushmore Makes No Sense
If you’ve ever taken the time to analyze who’s on the Goron Mount Rushmore in the Goron village, chances are you realized that something was off. If you’re a big Majora’s Mask fan, you realized that Darmani was on the mountain for some bizarre reason. Regardless where Breath of the Wild falls on the timeline, there’s just no logical way Darmani would be on a Goron Mount Rushmore.
For starters, nobody met Darmani but Link. It’s entirely possible Link would pass on his story to the Gorons after leaving Termina, but that doesn’t change the fact that Darmani is a Terminan hero, not a Hylian one. His existence means nothing to the Goron of Hyrule so him being immortalized in stone in Hyrule would be totally illogical.
19 How Does Link Really Feel About Mipha?
In the same way Princess Ruto was in love with the Hero of Time in Ocarina of Time, Mipha is in love with Link in Breath of the Wild. They’re implied to have been childhood friends, with Link spending quite a fair amount of time in Zora’s Domain growing up, and Mipha even intended on proposing to him when the time came. It’s clear that Mipha loved Link. What isn’t clear is how Link felt.
Whether it be because Link doesn’t have his memories or simply because he’s an overt recluse in BotW, he doesn’t seem to reciprocate Mipha’s feelings, let alone acknowledge them. At least in the English localization of the game. In the Japanese version, Link’s journal is written in first person meaning that he could, very well, have commented on his feelings on Mipha at some point. At the very least, the Japanese version would make his feelings clearer whereas the English version is content playing coy.
18 Does Link Truly Remember Zelda?
One of the last scenes players will see upon beating the game is Zelda asking Link if he remembers her. The game cuts out before he can answer, but the question still stands. Does Link actually remember Zelda? While he can relive and remember fragments of his past, he never actually remembers everything.
This means that, while Link has a better understanding of who he was and the life he left behind, his memories of Zelda would be skewed. He technically remembers her by the end of the game if you collected all his memories, but it would be a fundamentally different interpretation as he now has the context of his amnesia to view his memories through.
17 Link’s Divine Beast
All of Zelda’s Champions have Divine Beasts save for Link. This isn’t a case of Link not being a Champion, either. He wears the Champion’s garb, he plays a Champion’s role, and he’s part of the Champion’s crew. For all intents and purposes, Link should have a Divine Beast as well, yet Breath of the Wild never makes an earnest attempt at clearing up why he doesn’t have one.
Of course, it'd be a horse.
Until the DLC, that is. In the Champion’s Ballad DLC, Link goes through one final dungeon where he faces off against a Shrine Monk. In winning their battle, Link is bestowed a motorcycle that he can use to ride around Hyrule. Here’s the thing, though: this motorcycle is Link’s Divine Beast. Not only does it seem made for him, it’s built just like the other Divine Beasts. The only difference is that Link didn’t find his until after Calamity Ganon woke up.
16 Is The DLC Canon?
In discussing the DLC, it’s important to also question the canonicity of it. On one hand, the Champion’s Ballad is a relatively harmless DLC that expands on the narrative in a meaningful way. On the other way, the rest of the DLC is actually kind of incompatible with Breath of the Wild’s lore. In accepting Champion’s Ballad, one also has to accept instances like the Nintendo Switch T-Shirt.
The only way to make proper sense of the DLC is to pick and choose what is and isn’t canon. Champion’s Ballad doesn’t interfere with the logistics of the game while the T-Shirt does. With that in mind, the former can be canon, but the latter can’t. At the same time, both pieces of content stem from the same DLC package. Can you really pick and choose in such a context?
15 Making Sense Of The Master Sword
One of the biggest lore changes Breath of the Wild brought to the series was the Master Sword’s ability to literally drain its wielder of health. Upon trying to pull the Master Sword out of its pedestal, Link has to endure a severe amount of damage before the sword deems him worthy. Previous games have mentioned the Master Sword choosing a worthy wielder before, but never to this extreme.
Fi sure got spiteful.
If you think back to Ocarina of Time, however, you can almost make sense of this supposedly new lore addition. Upon pulling the sword out of its pedestal as a child, Link is put into a seven-year slumber. Rauru explains this is because he wasn’t ready to wield the sword yet, but it could also be because the sword would have sapped Link of all his life in light of BotW.
14 Was Link Actually Resurrected?
Despite waking up in the Shrine of Resurrection at the start of Breath of the Wild, it’s more than possible that Link wasn’t resurrected in the traditional sense. As his memories show, Link never actually lost his life-fighting Ganon’s forces. Rather, he was gravely wounded and found himself on the brink of life. With this in mind, the Shrine of Resurrection didn’t resurrect Link so much as it did heal his wounds. Granted, the “Shrine of Healing Someone For 100 Years” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
13 The Implications Of Defeating Ganon Early
Even though Link can defeat Calamity Ganon early, it’s perhaps in his best interest not to in the long run. There’s simply too much that Link leaves unresolved should he rush to Hyrule Castle and defeat Calamity Ganon without taking on a single Divine Beast or acquiring the Master Sword. While the majority of Hyrule’s problems are tied to the Blights, and Link can defeat them independent of their dungeons, there are still some uncomfortable implications.
Sometimes it's better to just take your time.
The most pressing implication is perhaps the fact that the Champions are effectively left trapped in their Divine Beasts with no proper respite. Helping Link is their way of finally moving on, but Link doesn’t need their help when defeating Ganon early. On top of that, Vah Medoh has no pilot so it’ll likely crash into the Rito village from up above. Defeating Ganon early is impressive, but probably not all that worth it.
12 Just What Is Calamity Ganon?
According to Zelda, Calamity Ganon is the result of Ganon resurrecting so many times that he’s begun to lose himself. What does this mean exactly, though? Ganon isn’t like Dracula from Castlevania where he can be resurrected early and each resurrection makes him weaker. At least not according to any lore in the series. Ganon is a being who can reincarnate and resurrect just like Link and Zelda.
The implication from Zelda’s comment is that Ganon has been defeated so many times without being properly destroyed that his soul is effectively going out of control. Time has been so cruel to him, that he’s become a completely mindless beast. This theory could make sense, but BotW takes place so far after every game in the series that it’s hard to accept this as the case since we’ve never been given the sense that Ganon has been deteriorating with time.
11 Revali’s Resentment
In a game where the majority of characters are lacking in meaningful depth, it’s refreshing to see someone like Revali hate Link so intensely to the point it makes him a three-dimensional character. Revali’s resentment of Link is anything but subtle, but it seeps into every facet of his character, making him truly come alive. At the same time, it doesn’t make all that much sense.
There's no justification for why Revali is such a jerk to Link.
Why would Revali hate Link? Because Link is Zelda’s personal knight? For starters, Revali isn’t even Hylian, so he can’t be a knight, to begin with. Secondly, he has his own personal Divine Beast to pilot, giving him more responsibility than Link. You could argue that Link having the Master Sword is enough for Revali to resent him, but the Master Sword is a failsafe. The Divine Beasts are meant to defeat Ganon, not Link. Revali’s resentment of LInk makes for a good character, but it falls apart under scrutiny.
10 Calamity Ganon Is Clearly Non-Threatening
It’s painfully obvious that, despite Calamity Ganon being posed as an immediate threat to Hyrule, he’s non-threatening all things considered. In his century-long reign, society has managed to rebuild rather comfortably. Towns are alive and flourishing with some civilizations virtually untouched by his malice. When it comes down to it, Zelda holding off Ganon is getting the job done, and there are no signs that she’s getting anywhere close to stopping her assault.
9 Is Link Really In A Rush?
With that in mind, is Link really in a rush to defeat Ganon? There are absolutely no stakes involved considering how little damage Calamity Ganon has done in the grand scheme of things. Hyrule is honestly fine. It’s nowhere near as apocalyptic as some characters make it out to be and, so long as you stay away from Hyrule Castle, the general population is arguably far safer than they were before he attacked.
Narratively, there’s no rush for Link to defeat Calamity Ganon. Depending on your playstyle, he might take literal months to actually defeat his fated foe in battle. When he does, what does he even change, though? The Divine Beasts are the main problem, not Calamity Ganon. Subduing them is enough to fix the immediate problem. Ganon basically does nothing all game.
8 The New Champions Are Unimportant
One of Breath of the Wild’s central themes is the need for the next generation to rise up and carry the torch the past left behind. This is why every single Divine Beast sequence features Link meeting a new character who’ll seemingly go on to become the new Champion for their era and Divine Beast. At least that’s the impression the game tries to give off.
You could remove each Champion and little would change narratively.
In reality, the new Champions ended up doing absolutely nothing narratively. They exist only to help Link get to the Divine Beast and effectively vanish after that. They do nothing to actually help Link defeat Calamity Ganon, replaced immediately by the Champions they were meant to be replacing. They are thematically and narratively irrelevant.
7 When Does Zelda Actually Start Caring About Link?
Zelda does not like Link initially in Breath of the Wild, but she does seem to care about him and even cherish his friendship by the end of the game. The question is, when did she actually start to care? Given how she acts in the last few memories, it’s clear she doesn’t want Link to fall in combat, but is this out of care or simply because she’s a human being and doesn’t want blood on her hands?
It’s implied that the two do genuinely grow closer the more time they spend together, but it still seems that Zelda isn’t entirely on board with Link until the damage is done and he’s starting to fall. Perhaps it’s during her 100-year lull where she actually realizes her feelings for him and sets aside her pettiness. A century is a long time, after all.
6 Is Link Weak?
Breath of the Wild’s Link is an interesting case when it comes to strength. On one hand, he’s clearly talented enough to rush Calamity Ganon and defeat him with next to no equipment. On the other hand, he was almost done in by Ganon’s lackeys in a fully trained body with a powered up Master Sword. It’s not even Calamity Ganon who beat him in the backstory, just some Guardians.
Who loses to a Guardian?
Does that make this incarnation of Link weak? Honestly, kind of. The Link you play as, the one with amnesia, seems infinitely stronger than the Link in the backstory. Backstory Link, while formally trained, couldn’t fulfill his purpose in his life. Maybe the Shrine of Resurrection bolstered his abilities somehow, or perhaps we’re meant to take the Shrines as training sessions, bolstering Link up to a point where he can actually take on Ganon.
5 Remembering Fi
Believe it or not, Breath of the Wild actually directly references Skyward Sword’s Fi within the game’s main narrative. Not only does the Master Sword make Fi’s titular sound at one point, Zelda actually comments on the sword speaking to her and wonders if Link can hear Fi yet. Which is actually an interesting point, why can’t Link hear Fi? Why haven’t previous Links heard Fi?
Because one game with Fi wasn't enough.
From what we’ve seen in previous games, only Skyward Sword’s Link has ever actually interacted with Fi. The other Links never got the chance even when using the Master Sword. Zelda hearing Fi and acknowledging her existence is rather strange as it implies that Fi has deemed her worthy, but never bothered deeming previous Links, or the current Link, such.
4 Making Sense Of The Koroks And Ritos
Introduced as an evolution of the Kokiri line in The Wind Waker, Koroks, like Ritos, were implied to have previously been members of the Kokiri and Zora tribes who needed to evolve in order to adapt to the onset of the Great Sea. They added an element of novelty to The Wind Waker and showed just how far gone society removed itself from the Hyrule of the past. Which makes it weird that Breath of the Wild features both outside of the Great Sea.
Maybe someday Nintendo will care about the lore as much as fans do.
Since there was no great flood in Breath of the Wild’s lore, these two races should not exist. Yet they do. To make matter all the stranger, Ritos exist alongside the Zora tribe, meaning that the Ritos in Breath of the Wild couldn’t have evolved from Zoras even though The Wind Waker established that was the case. It’s really just a way to vary up Hyrule all the more, but it’s an odd change on Nintendo’s part that brings with it some very bizarre retcons.
3 Is Breath Of The WIld’s Ending A Cliffhanger?
It can be difficult to determine what is and isn’t a cliffhanger. Just because a story ends without concluding all its plot threads, doesn’t mean the narrative is unresolved. At the end of Breath of the Wild’s true ending, Zelda tells Link that Vah Ruta is malfunctioning and the two head off to go remedy the situation. Does this event promise a new game in this setting? Or is it just an indicator that Link and Zelda will continue to work together?
Honestly, there’s no real clear answer. The Zelda franchise has never shied away from following up on previous Links and expanding their stories, but this case could honestly go either way. It’s uncharacteristic for a Zelda game to sequel hook into a new game, but Breath of the Wild is uncharacteristic for a Zelda in the first place. If Nintendo follows this plot thread in a sequel, it’s a cliffhanger. If they don’t, it’s just a small ending. Only time will tell.
2 River Zoras And The Zora Tribe
There are two types of Zoras that can be found within The Legend of Zelda series: River Zoras and members of the Zora tribe. River Zoras are the enemy Zoras often found in the 2D games. They look nothing like the 3D Zoras and tend to attack Link on sight with very few exceptions. Members of the Zora Tribe are the humanoid Zoras who interact with LInk amicably and tend to play major roles in the 3D games.
Given how much Breath of the Wild lifts from the franchise’s earlier, 2D games, it would have been the perfect opportunity to actually shine some light on the differences between these Zoras. Why is one hostile while the other isn’t? Do the River Zoras even have sentience? What makes the Zora tribe humanoid? These are just a few questions Breath of the Wild, and by extension the rest of the series, fails to answer about one of Hyrule’s major races.
1 Breath Of The Wild And The Zelda Timeline
If you’ve spent even a second in the Zelda greater fandom, you’ve stumbled upon at least one timeline debate. Currently, the hot topic is to fit Breath of the Wild into one of the three timelines: the Downfall Timeline, the Child Timeline, or the Adult Timeline. The problem is, Breath of the Wild takes place so far ahead into the franchise’s future, that it’s a bit difficult to find a suitable place for it. That said, it more than likely falls in the Downfall Timeline.
Breath of the Wild lifts heavily from the 2D Zeldas. Not only do most take place in the Downfall Timeline, they all have recurring threads linking them together. Breath of the Wild shares with the 2D games: underground dungeons via shrines, a Master Sword found in the Lost Woods, Lynels, and an emphasis on exploration. On top of that, Ganon has been resurrected the most in this timeline, giving added credence to the idea that Calamity Ganon is the result of coming back to life over and over again. It’s really the only timeline that makes sense for BotW at this point.