Posted on July 24 2017 by Andy Spiteri
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is certainly a contentious topic among the more hardcore Zelda fans. While most casual Zelda gamers and video game fans have embraced the stylistic changes that Breath of the Wild ushered in, you’re always going to have the fans opposed to a change in the well oiled machine that was the Zelda series post-Ocarina of Time. It seems that it’s been some of the more dedicated Zelda faithful that were less impressed by Breath of the Wild, and for a variety of reasons.
What I’ve seemed to notice is that for the many topics that have fans divided on Breath of the Wild, the games story has been the most divisive.
Yeah, I know. We’ve talked about the games story to death. We’ve covered it here, and here, and here, and even last week I talked about it again, speculating what gaps the upcoming Champions Ballad might be able to fill for us in Breath of the Wild’s Tanagar Canyon sized plot holes. But it was reading some of the comments from that particular article shared by users that I came across simple question someone asked that intrigued me:
Why didn’t Breath of the Wild just take place 100 years ago?
It seems kind of silly when you first say it, but the more I thought about it, the more it makes sense from a narrative perspective? Why didn’t this game just take place in the past? What would you really be losing by making this change?
Almost exclusively, the story from Breath of the Wild takes place in flashbacks, but would it not have made more sense for the game just to have been set in that time and not have to use the flashbacks altogether? You could still use the memory system, but instead you could look back 10,000 years prior; maybe gain some insight into the first attack by Calamity Ganon, the origins of the Yiga Clan, or watch the Sheikah assemble their Guardians and Divine Beasts.
By having the game take place in the past, you might lose some of the Champions descendant characters as there would be no need for them (yes, that means no Prince Sidon — sorry ladies), but the trade off would be getting to explore the woefully under-developed Champions a little more. A fair trade off in my eyes — I’ll take a roster of a couple fully developed characters over a cast of multiple bit players any day.
Another advantage to having the game take place in the past is getting to see Princess Zelda’s plight up close and personal, rather than fragments of it. I’ve always been of the opinion that it would have been more meaningful if the Calamity’s return was directly linked to Zelda’s inability to manifest her powers, and if the game were taking place in real time, her struggles and Ganon’s return might have hit home even more.
One of the most powerful scenes in Breath of the Wild is Zelda’s despair, as she collapses into Links arms and is forced to confront that all of her training has been for naught, that Ganon is back anyways and has destroyed Castle Town. Now imagine spending some time in Castle Town, looking at the buildings, meeting it’s denizens, getting to know all of its quirks. Then imagine you see it getting destroyed by Calamity Ganon, as Zelda is powerless to prevent Castle Town from facing obliteration. We would have attachment to Castle Town, and going forwards, it’s ruins; we would empathize with Zelda even more; and most importantly, we’d wanna kick Ganon’s ass that much harder.
Of course, there are some scenes that would have to be reworked in order for the game taking place 100 years prior to work. Principally, Link fighting an army of Guardians until he collapsed and Zelda finally unlocking her powers to save Links life, but I think that the benefits outweigh the negatives.
“Why didn’t Breath of the Wild just take place 100 years ago?” is a question that really does make you think. What did the game get by having you wait so long?
There’s still towns and cities left in Hyrule with relatively happy looking inhabitants. There’s no catastrophic damage to the land (Castle Town not withstanding) like there was when Ganondorf reigned over Hyrule for seven years. There’s no frozen Zora’s Domain or dried lakes or out of control volcanoes. Zelda is still there, un-aged, in some sort of weird, not-really-explained suspended animation. You still go and fight Calamity Ganon, who you would think if he were going to be defeated, it would be as soon as he came back to life and was still getting his bearings rather than 100 years later when he’s got the ruling Hyrule thing down pat. Links injuries from 100 years prior don’t play any kind of role in the gameplay or the story, so why bother having it?
You could still retake control of the Divine Beasts in the past. You could still do every sidequest in the past. You could still use the memory system in the past. When you think about it, there really wasn’t any need to have the break in time as anything plot-wise that was accomplished by having the game take place ‘in the future’ could have easily been done in the past.
Or could it have been? Maybe all this hypothetical questioning and speculation is way off center. But it’s an interesting scenario to imagine none the less.
What do you guys think? How would you see the game working out if it had played out in real time in the past? Would you rather just have the structure of Breath of the Wild remain the way it is? Let us know in the comments below!