The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a bold new direction for the Zelda series. The game sported an open world and semi-survival genre mechanics that helped refresh and recontextualize the franchise. However, while the title was fantastic overall, it dropped the ball in several places. Most notably, the game lacked proper dungeons. The closest the game gave us to such dungeons were the Divine Beasts, which served as vaguely dungeon-like experiences and played a substantial role in the game’s narrative and world. Their significance makes it all the stranger that nobody can seem to find the Divine Beasts in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
For those who need a refresher, Breath of the Wild revolved around unearthed Sheikah technology. They are the cause of (and solution to) most problems in the game. The figurative and literal biggest examples of Sheikah tech in Breath of the Wild are the Divine Beasts. Their name is actually a bit of a misnomer since they aren’t living creatures; they’re towering technological marvels shaped like animals. But those medieval mechs are definitely divine since they sealed Calamity Ganon long before the events of Breath of the Wild.
Divine Beasts also essentially served as the game’s dungeons. If players cleared all four, not only does Link receive special powers, but the Divine Beasts aid him in the battle against Calamity Ganon with a laser beam that erases half the final boss’ health. Chronologically, that is the last we see of the giant Sheikah robots. The Divine Beasts return in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, but that’s a non-canonical prequel spin-off. Nobody can find the Divine Beasts anywhere in Tears of the Kingdom, which is confusing since the game is supposedly a sequel to Breath of the Wild. So where are they?
Before we continue, we should address the Vah Ruta in the room. Technically speaking, the Divine Beasts aren’t completely removed from Tears of the Kingdom. Assuming you have the right amiibo, that is. If you scan a Daruk, Mipha, Revali, or Urbosa amiibo, you might receive helms themed after their respective ancient automatons.
However, that’s it. Nobody in the game even mentions the giant robots. It’s almost as if they never existed. In fact, Tears of the Kingdom is devoid of almost all other examples of ancient Sheikah technology from Breath of the Wild. Sheikah Towers, Sheikah Shrines, and the Sheikah Slate have disappeared from Hyrule. What few Guardians are scattered around the world are decayed and lifeless. The closest anyone can find to any answers are fan theories, but dang if they aren’t compelling.
One of the most obvious explanations, suggested by Reddit user mockingjayyyyyy, posits that all Divine Beasts and Guardians were disassembled after the events of Breath of the Wild. Even though Calamity Ganon had been defeated, Princess Zelda knew all too well how easily he overrode these ancient Sheikah creations. So, she took control of them and ordered their dismantling. Purah and her notes in Tears of the Kingdom corroborate this theory, but it still raises the question of what happened to the scrap pieces after that.
An early game cutscene provides one possible answer. Perhaps these parts were recycled into less dangerous forms, specifically the Skyview Towers. What appears to be repurposed Guardian legs sprout from underneath the tower’s launch platform to attach crucial components to Link, and the Skyview Towers’ control nodes look like the ones found in Divine Beasts. Maybe some materials were also reused to create the Purah Pad.
Another potential theory that several people have floated is that, much like how the Sheikah Towers and Shrines popped up after Link activated them in Breath of the Wild, once they no longer served a purpose, that ancient Sheikah tech returned underground. The ending of Breath of the Wild sort of backs up this claim. During a post-credits scene, Princess Zelda states that Divine Beast Vah Ruta has “stopped working.”
On one hand, this theory might explain why Sheikah have disappeared from the face of Hyrule. On the other hand, the underground is an important location in Tears of the Kingdom. Players can delve deep into the Depths and acquire more Energy Cells and some powerful armor. If shrines and towers dug themselves into the dirt, surely players could find them in the Depths. So far, though, nobody has. Perhaps these structures retreated to different depths, but that still wouldn’t solve the mystery of the missing Divine Beasts and Guardians. Perhaps the Breath of the Wild post-credits scene actually backs up the belief that Sheikah technology was recycled for other uses. After all, we have no idea why the Divine Beasts stopped working. Maybe their batteries just ran out, but their other parts were perfectly salvageable.
There’s also the ever-present theory of time travel. Reddit user BirdTheBard suggested that Princess Zelda traveled to the past, made some changes to history, and effectively retconned the Divine Beasts (and possibly the events of Breath of the Wild) out of reality. If true, this hypothesis could explain several oddities in Tears of the Kingdom. For instance, the Zonai went from being a prehistoric tribe of barbarians in Breath of the Wild to ancient architects in Tears of the Kingdom; Zelda’s influence might have elevated them into Hyrule’s de facto masters of everything mechanical.
Without getting too deep into the events of Tears of the Kingdom, there are certain plot points in the game that support that theory. As we know from most time travel media, any change in the past can have long-reaching ramifications. Basically, this theory suggests that Tears of the Kingdom is a sequel to Breath of the Wild the same way Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a sequel to Super Mario Galaxy (thank you Reddit user KainDracula for that nugget).
We might never really know what happened to the Divine Beasts in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Or Nintendo might provide an answer when the company releases the inevitable DLC pack. Until then, you can rest assured gamers will scour the world of Tears of the Kingdom, looking for hints.