The follow up to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild may be the most highly-anticipated video game sequel since Half-Life 3 and Metroid Prime 4, and for good reason: the first game is a masterpiece, a perfect translation of the classic Zelda formula into a modern open-world setting brimming with life and locations to explore. It’s certainly one of the best Zelda games ever made, and perhaps even the best, although I’m sure some of you will debate that in the comments.
In short, the sequel has some big shoes to fill. But if the game’s latest teaser is any indication, it looks like Nintendo will at the very least deliver a satisfying continuation of the Breath of the Wild story and aesthetic, if not something as revolutionary as the original. There’s more to the E3 2021 trailer than just beautiful visuals and scene setting, though.
Clues sprinkled throughout the teaser could also have just confirmed what the game is about. According to one fan theory gathering steam online, the game may be set to take a much deeper dive into the lore and history of Breath of the Wild‘s Hyrule — including the origin story of Ganondorf before he turned evil. The theory comes from Kinda Funny’s Barrett Courtney, who sat down with gaming industry personality Tim Gettys to break down the new trailer.
Now, I don’t normally put much stock in fan theories — and you absolutely shouldn’t take any of this as official confirmation of what the game is or isn’t — but I found Courtney’s conversation with Gettys particularly compelling.
Courtney begins his theory by comparing the shots of a mummified Ganondorf and a character that looks a lot like Link soaring through the air in a style reminiscent of a scene in the reveal trailer for Skyward Sword, which is itself the origin story of Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf’s eternal struggle throughout the rest of the Zelda timeline. (More on this in a second.) He points out that the mummified Ganondorf and “Link” look like they’re wearing the same tunic, suggesting we’re actually seeing the same character at different points in time.
No, it’s not the deepest piece of evidence, but then the YouTuber draws a more interesting connection: the tunic worn by both characters in the trailer also resembles the one worn by the “Hero of 10,000 Years Ago” in a tapestry depicting Hyrule’s ancient history in Breath of the Wild.
According to Impa in Breath of the Wild, the “Hero of 10,000 Years Ago” was the ancient warrior who first saved Hyrule from the great evil known as Calamity Ganon. Interestingly enough, the Hero depicted in the tapestry is also sporting longer hair, a particular point of interest regarding the “Link” in this trailer. Instead of the usual ponytail, this “Link” seems to have more a mullet that flows freely as he dives through the sky.
Why does the “Link” of the trailer look slightly different to what we’re used to? According to Courtney, it’s because we’re actually watching Ganondorf before he turned into the evil villain that Link must vanquish every generation. Courtney suggests that this is “the first iteration” of Ganondorf, who lived after the events of Skyward Sword but millennia before the events of Breath of the Wild.
“This game will be learning about the fall of Ganondorf the man and then saving him from the evil that has been ruling over him for generations. And in doing so, we’ll break the cycle started by Demise,” Courtney wrote in a separate tweet about what he thinks the game will ultimately be about.
So, where does Demise, Skyward Sword‘s demonic villain, fit into all of this? It all goes back to a promise the villain made to Link after he was defeated by the hero: “My hate never perishes. It is born anew in a cycle with no end. I will rise again! Those like you…Those who share the blood of the goddess and the spirit of the hero…They are eternally bound to this curse. An incarnation of my hatred shall ever follow your kind, dooming them to wander a blood-soaked sea of darkness for all time!”
Demise’s soul is then locked away inside the Master Sword for all eternity, but we know that his curse did come to pass. The Zelda games that take place after Skyward Sword are almost all stories of Ganon/Ganondorf returning to destroy Hyrule, with Link and Zelda working together to stop him. Since “Ganondorf” is “the incarnation of Demise’s hatred” for the heroes of Hyrule, Courtney suggests that Breath of the Wild 2 could explore how a human Ganondorf was first corrupted by Demise.
“My theory is that whenever we play these segments as human Ganondorf, it’s going to be him eventually finding the Master Sword,” Courtney said, arguing that Nintendo has yet to truly tell the story of how Demise’s evil was passed on to Ganondorf. “Has there ever been a follow up of [Demise] possibly escaping the Master Sword and him being able to essentially take over a human to be able to reincarnate over and over again? I think we might get the story of the very first Ganondorf and the story of being cursed by Demise and turning into this person of evil.”
A Zelda game that lets you both play through the origin story of a villain in the past while the heroes try to defeat him in the present would certainly be a major twist to the usual formula. Of course, you can also poke holes in Courtney’s theory. For one thing, Ganondorf has traditionally been depicted as a member of the Gerudo race, with dark skin and bright red hair (resembling Demise himself), but the character in the Breath of the Wild 2 trailer has a similar complexion and hair color to Link.
Yet, when Ganon’s backstory was first fleshed out in A Link to the Past, it was said that the villain had once been a human who was imprisoned inside the Sacred Realm and turned into the boar-like demon we meet in the early games. It’s possible that Nintendo could be returning to the original lore.
Courtney also suggested that Ganondorf’s hair could have turned red after he was possessed by Demise. But what about that robot arm? If that’s young Ganondorf with a robot arm in the trailer, why doesn’t mummified Ganondorf have one? Fair point.
But you could also argue that, since Ganondorf is destroyed by Link and Zelda time and time again, the very first version of evil Ganondorf may have very well had a robot arm before he was defeated in a battle we haven’t seen yet. He wouldn’t have reincarnated with that robot arm, right? Instead, he would have been “born anew” as Demise promised in Skyward Sword!
Yeah, you could spend hours down the rabbit hole with this particular fan theory, and I’ve not even covered everything Courtney and Gettys talked about in their breakdown. If you love Zelda lore and fan theories, I definitely recommend you give their video a watch.
We won’t know anything for sure until more details are revealed by Nintendo, which at the moment won’t even confirm the official title of the sequel because it might give too much away. Courtney predicts the game will be called Demise of the Wild, though.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel will be out in 2022 for the Nintendo Switch.