‘Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ Timeline: ‘Master Trials’ DLC doesn’t pin down when the game takes place

Nintendo/YouTube

A new Zelda product came out last week, so it’s time for my favorite part of the Zelda fan cycle. That’s right — now we have to figure out where Breath of the Wild’s “Master Trials” DLC takes place on the series’ huge, labyrinthine timeline.

Since “Master Trials” doesn’t have a story, per se, it’s more about using its little nuggets of information to figure out when Breath of the Wild as a whole takes place. After all, we still don’t know the answer to that question beyond “extremely far in the future of one of the three separate timelines.” Luckily, Kotaku’s Gita Jackson did some valuable research on the topic.

New Breath of the Wild DLC tells us what we already knew about the timeline

Source: Macintyre/YouTube

In case you’ve managed to avoid this nonsense up until now, here is how things work: Most of the Zelda series takes place after Ocarina of Time, but not in an entirely linear fashion. That game’s ending splits the series into three alternate timelines. Yes, it’s complete nonsense.

One timeline follows Link after Zelda sends him back to live out the childhood he missed out on, while another picks up with that adult version of Zelda after Ganon’s defeat. The third (and most ridiculous) timeline posits that Link and Zelda failed to stop Ganon in Ocarina of Time, setting off cataclysmic events.

Breath of the Wild is coy — probably intentionally so — about its timeline placement, but because it contains a couple of references to Twilight, we can assume it’s in the child Link timeline. That one primarily features Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess, both of which are prominently referenced in “Master Trials” via new collectible costumes.

Tingle transcends all timeline theories.
Tingle transcends all timeline theories. Alex Perry/Nintendo

However, as the Macintyre video above discusses, this DLC throws a wrench into that theory because you can collect an armor set from Phantom Hourglass, which is in an entirely different timeline where Hyrule doesn’t even exist anymore. All of the collectible gear is said to have been stolen from the royal family’s clutches, so Breath of the Wild could place in the distant future of the New Hyrule established in Phantom Hourglass.

My theory is that Nintendo hastily assembled this timeline after years of fan speculation as a means to loosely connect a bunch of games that were never meant to be connected. Maybe Breath of the Wild serves as a clean break from the timeline, or maybe the “The Champions’ Ballad” DLC launching later this year will give us more concrete evidence toward is placement.

More Zelda: Breath of the Wild tips, tricks and guides

Find out all there is to know about Zelda: Breath of the Wild, including what to expect from the Wii U version, how to preserve your items, how to beat bosses like the Stone Talus and Lynel, the best recipes for Link and how to take on the game’s shrines. You’ll also want to find out where all the great fairies in the game and how to use amiibo with your version of Zelda.