Posted on April 18 2017 by Andy Spiteri
Buckle in, everyone, cause this is gonna be a long one. This post is gonna be part analysis, part fan-fiction, all spoilers, and all awesome, so without any further ado, let’s get right into it.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an amazing game with a peerless open world and an unrivaled sense of exploration. Never the less, the plot of Breath of the Wild has left some of the hardcore Zelda fans a little… wanting. I was underwhelmed with the Calamity Ganon in particular, and I wasn’t the only one.
On a recent episode of the Zelda Informer Podcast (which you can listen to here *shameless plug*) my co-host Alfred and I discussed what changes we would make to the game. Since both of our biggest concerns were the Calamity Ganon, we spent most of our time discussing how that character (and I use that term loosely) could be improved. After listening to some of his ideas and weaving them into my own, I think I’ve got a pretty good tale to tell that will elevate the story behind Ganon, delve deeper into the Champions, and give us a glimpse into the past.
One of the golden rules in writing and story telling is “Show, don’t tell”. Its goal is to let the audience interpret what is happening instead of telling them how to react. Breath of the Wild suffers from a case of too much telling, not enough showing. We’re going to change that.
We’re told that 10,000 years ago, the Sheikah built the Guardians and the Divine Beasts and that they were able to overcome Ganon. Which is fine, but this then leads to the conundrum of: why was Ganon able to take over the Guardians in present day but not then? To fix this, we’re going to spend a chunk of time 10,000 years prior.
This can be told in either memories, or a much more detailed flashback given by Impa. In the past, we see the Sheikah building their marvelous machines and talking to the King of Hyrule. Concerned with these new inventions, the King asks what assurances they have that these machines will never be used against them. The Sheikah reply that they can all be controlled using a Sheikah Slate. If ever there was a problem, shutting them down remotely using this device would be simple. Thus, we have a fail-safe against the Guardians.
At the same time, still in the past, we’re gonna see the genesis of this guy:
Master Kohga was a bit player in Breath of the Wild. He was made to look like a putz, presented no challenge, and was killed off rather lamely. In this narrative though, he’s going to be a central character.
Still 10,000 years in the past, we see the Yiga clan rise up to fight the Sheikah. Their master, Kohga, has grown more and more powerful, almost as if he was channeling this power from a higher source, and can now control an ethereal evil weapon known as ‘The Calamity’. As you probably guessed, Kohga has found the power of Ganon, much like Zant before him did. And much like Ganondorf in Twilight Princess, his insurrection, due to the destructive power of the Sheikahs new machines, will not succeed. As Master Kohga is being destroyed and the power of Ganon is being sealed away, however, he learns of the existence of a key item that will come in handy in the future: The Sheikah Slate.
This will set up an answer for the single biggest question that Breath of the Wild leaves unanswered: how the hell did Ganon take control of the Guardians? We now have a fail-safe in play and a physical embodiment for Ganon in the form of Kohga. Now all we need is a catalyst for the events to come…
Now, one plot element that Breath of the Wild really did get right was the characterization of Princess Zelda. Her struggle in not being able to realize her powers made her more relateable and endearing at the same time. Curiously though, the events in Breath of the Wild where Zelda can’t realize her powers and the upcoming revival of Calamity Ganon seem to take place side by side instead of in reaction to each other. We’re going to change that.
In my narrative, we’re still going to follow Link, Zelda, and the Champions in the past as they go about their training, but what we’re going to change is the reason for Ganon’s return. Kohga, with his weapon the Calamity, will break the seal as a direct result of Zelda not being able to realize her powers. This will add more weight to Zelda’s shoulders and make her scene of despair even more powerful.
Upon breaking free, Kohga knows that he stands no chance as long as the Hylians have the power of the Guardians and the Divine Beasts at their disposal. So drawing from his memory of 10,000 years prior, Kohga steals and corrupts the Sheikah Slate from Hyrule Castle, and thus, takes control of the Guardians. There’s one of the games biggest narrative problems solved.
Going back to the old adage of “show, don’t tell” for a second, we’re told by each of the Champions that Blight Ganon killed them. However, since their spirits seem to be doing okay in the afterlife, this hits with the emotional impact of a Justin Bieber music video (Not coincidentally, since she had a more personal backstory to her, Mipha’s scene hits the hardest). What we need is to see this happen.
Say what you will about the Star Wars prequels, but dammit if the Order 66 scene wasn’t awesome. Seeing the clones turn on the Jedi and Anakin execute those kids lent instant gravitas to both Darth Sidious and Vader as villains. Seeing something similar happen to the Champions would similarly build up Kohga as a villain and (if you’ll excuse the wrestling term) get him a ton of heat. These don’t have to be M for Mature death scenes by any means, but seeing this happen is a win-win-win as it builds empathy for Zelda, sympathy for the Champions, and disdain for Kohga.
Next (we’re still 100 years before this game starts if you’re keeping track) we’ll focus on the battle that sees Link defeating a seemingly endless onslaught of Guardians. We’re going to change this moment so that Link emerges victorious, but at the cost of his own life. We don’t want Zelda to unlock her powers just yet, and we want Link’s sacrifice to be an even more powerful moment. So the battle ends, Link is down and being taken to the Shrine of Resurrection, and the Champions have fallen aboard their respective vessels. Overcome with despair, Zelda resolves to meet her fate at Hyrule Castle, where Kohga is using the Calamity to wreck havoc all over the place.
Upon arriving to the castle, Zelda witnesses Kohga eliminate her father and just as she is prepared to die in defiance, that is when Zelda’s powers finally manifest. In a burst of light, she seals herself and Kohga away in a suspended animation, ripping the Sheikah Slate from him, and waits until the day that Link awakens. With its master now predisposed, the Calamity, which is now known as the Calamity Ganon, floats around Hyrule Castle, directionless but building power. The Sheikah Slate, broken and damaged, is recovered from Hyrule Castle by the last of the Sheikah warriors and given to Link in the Shrine of Resurrection.
To recap, now we have an explanation of how Ganon/Kohga took control of the Guardians, we know what happened inside Hyrule Castle with Zelda, we have greater send-offs for the Champions, and we’ve built up the Yiga Clan as a more serious threat. One thing gameplay-wise I think would be neat in this scenario too is instead of getting a weapon like you would in a dungeon in your typical Zelda game, you can restore functionality to the Sheikah Slate and eventually take over Guardians. All of this, everything I’ve layed out as happening 100 years prior, could be presented by having additional memories.
Now it’s finally time to start the game proper. The story can play out here much the same way it does in the game, with the obvious exception of fighting Kohga at the Yiga Clan hideout. Cue, the final boss.
A big part of the reason that the grand finale of Breath of the Wild was so lackluster was that Ganon was just… there, as something for you to defeat. It was pretty much the same thing as fighting a Hinnox; they both had the same amount of personality to them. In this narrative, however, after seeing the atrocities that Kohga has committed, players should be foaming at the mouth to go and give Kohga his just desserts.
The first phase of this fight is going to be against the weapon, Calamity Ganon. His form can stay the same, that’s fine, but were going to be dealing damage a little differently. Rather than the Divine Beasts taking off their ruby quartz glasses and blasting Ganon for half his health, we’re going to start the fight at full strength. When Link dodges an attack, it’s then we’ll see the spirits of the Champions, giving Link an incredible boost in attack. The first dodge is Rivalli; the second is Urbosa; we keep going with these attacks until we’ve seen each member of the Champions contribute and the Calamity destroyed (or at least subdued for now).
The second phase will see Link walk into the chamber which Zelda and Kohga are sealed. Speaking telepathically to Link, Zelda questions her powers and says that if she releases the seal, the full power of Ganon (through Kohga) will be unleashed. After silently assuring her that he believes in her, Link and Zelda decide to stop Ganon once and for all. Cue the fight between Link and Ganon’s physical embodiment, Kohga.
After Link is victorious, Kohga dies, but not before revealing that Ganon, confident that Link hasn’t regained all of his powers from 100 years prior and that Zelda doesn’t know how to use her divine gifts, is giving up his reincarnation to go all in on destroying Link and Zelda and conquering Hyrule forever. This will be make it abundantly clear that this is Ganon’s last stand.
Now, I didn’t mind the idea behind the final fight with Beast Ganon, it’s just that the execution was spotty. Instead of the final battle hitting like a haymaker, it landed more like a wet noodle due to how easy that fight was. We’re just going go assume that that fight is structured a little better and is more challenging, but at the end of the day, the result is the same: Ganon is defeated.
Cue the ending. Since Breath of the Wild changed everything about how the series played, it seems appropriate that there should be a narrative in-game to match that change. And so, as he promised, Ganon, the bane of Hyrule since the first Zelda game more than 30 years ago, is finally vanquished for good. Demise’s curse can now look for a new source, and Ganon/Ganondorf are retired from the series.
Wrapping up a few loose threads, in the epilogue, we see Zelda and Link decide to destroy the Guardians and the Divine Beasts so their power can never be misused again. Cue to a scene of Zelda again returning to the Deku Tree to return the Master Sword to its pedestal, and then to Link, his body still damaged from the attack 100 years prior, his mission complete and destiny fulfilled, finally returning to the Shrine of Resurrection where he finds his well earned peace. Flash forward to a time in the future and all you can see is Castle Town rebuilt, Hyrule thriving, and an overgrown Shrine. As we get closer, we can see that it’s the Shrine of Resurrection, and growing atop where Link sleeps is the most beautiful Silent Princess.
The End. Phew.
So there it is. In summary, we’ve given the Guardians a weakness that Ganon can exploit; we’ve built up Master Kohga, the Yiga Clan, and the Calamity as villains; we’ve given an explanation as to how the Guardian takeover could have happened; we’ve delved deeper into the characters of Zelda, Link, the Champions, and Hyrule itself; we’ve crafted a more memorable final battle; All in all, I think it turned out pretty okay.
I’m curious to hear what you guys think! Do you like some of the changes? Disagree with them? Is there a character you’d focus more on? How would you script it? I’ll be checking out the comments below to see what kind of awesome ideas you guys come up with! Thanks for reading (it was long, I know) and until the next time, may the Goddess bless you!
Andy Spiteri is a Senior Editor at Zelda Informer. For more outlandish ideas, weird thoughts, and quiet musings, follow him on Twitter.