So who is the big baddy in Breath of the Wild 2?
The sequel to the acclaimed Switch game has had very little to say for itself since its announcement at E3 2019.
But, that hasn't stopped theory crafters from doing what they do best - piecing together the Hyrule Historia.
We've long speculated that Ganondorf is set to return in the next game, based off of the short and confusing trailer that released last year.
But which version is it and where does the game fit in the timeline?
Breath Of The Wild 2's Ganondorf Is From Twilight Princess
Many theorists are confident that the Ganondorf in Breath of the Wild 2 is Ganondorf from Twilight Princess.
If you look closely at the trailer, as Colin Stevens has done, there are a few details that support this theory.
Let's explore the evidence below!
Take a look at the cloth attached to the corpse - it features the symbol of the desert-bound Gerudo tribe. If you're familiar with Ganondorf and Zelda lore, you'll know he is part of the Gerudo, of which he once ruled.
The Gerudo Champion, Urbosa, also eludes to this: "It was written that Calamity Ganon once adopted the form of a Gerudo," with her referring to the Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time (who is the same one in Twilight Princess).
GERUDONT: Ganondorf was the only male born to the Gerudo tribe in 100 years
Master Sword Wound
The next piece of evidence is the wound the Master Sword left on Ganondorf during Twilight Princess.
In the trailer, the spot on the corpse that is being resurrected by this mysterious arm is the same place where Link drove the Blade of Evils bane.
OLD WOUNDS NEVER HEAL: Ganondorf returns for revenge?
This wound was originally put in place in the Child Link timeline. In this timeline, Link went back to warn the King of Hyrule (during Ocarina of Time) about Ganondorf's plot.
In the Arbiter's Ground, a scene viewed during Twilight Princess, the Ancient Sages drove a sword through his chest. But the Triforce of Power allowed Ganondorf to survive, pull the sword out and kill the Sage of Water.
The remaining sages used the Mirror of Twilight to banish Ganondorf to the Twilight Realm, which started the events of Twilight Princess.
During the final battle, Link impales the Demon King with the legendary blade in the same spot as the Ancient Sages, which puts an end to his terror.
The malice that spews out of this wound seems far too similar to be just a coincidence and there aren't many other scenarios in Zelda games where this repeats itself.
It's certainly not the Wind Waker Ganondorf, as he was sliced through his skull.
SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED: Ganondorf is sealed away with the Master Sword
Next up is the Headdress that the corpse is donning. While it's not a like-for-like replica compared to the Twilight Princess version, it's not too dissimilar.
It's also important to bear in mind that every game in Zelda history has brought in its own artistic style, so you'll need to grant some leeway for subtle differences.
BLING-BLING: The biggest evidence so far?
Both are covered in gold and sport a large yellow Topaz in the centre of the piece; which according to the Zelda Encyclopedia is his favourite.
And lastly, again, it's something that Ganondorf hasn't been seen with in other titles.
ALL THE GEAR AND NO IDEA?: Is this all a gigantic rouse?
First off, Reddit user ReroFunk found that if you reverse the trailer audio, there are certain notes that echo the music played during your final encounter with Zant (one of the antagonists in Twilight Princess). He may have been defeated during that game, but he is adamant he'll return through the power of his "god".
There's a lot to take in here. Is Zant referring to Ganondorf? Or is there another God in play? Could that God have resurrected Zant and Zant is using his God to resurrect Ganondorf?
In the trailer, the mysterious blue hand does have markings that look very reminiscent of those the Twili brandish.
Demise is believed to be the original Ganondorf. Once again, Reddit user ReroFunk pointed out that this screenshot in the trailer looks a lot like Demise but could just be a depiction of history.
It's certainly a foreshadowing of what is to come and what seems to happen regularly in the series.
DEMISE: The fall of Hyrule?
Zelda also makes a direct reference to the 'Hero of Twilight' in one of her memories, as well as the fact that the Arbiter's Grounds can be found in the Gerudo Desert.
Why It Might Not Be Ganondorf From Twilight Princess
Firstly, Ganondorf's hair is a lot longer. In Twilight Princess, Ganondorf's hair was reasonably long and you'd be forgiven for not noticing as it's very well-groomed.
There are a few potential explanations for this. After death, there's the myth that your hair keeps growing; although this myth is factually inaccurate. While it may grow a small amount, the reason why it looks so much longer is that your flesh shrinks as it dries out, retracting the skin. It could be Nintendo have taken this myth into account and used this as a reason to grow out his hair.
The other explanation is that this isn't the first time that Ganondorf has been resurrected. Perhaps he has come back a few times, considering these events are set much further into the future; it would certainly account for the slight artistic differences in clothing. Maybe the corpse was never fully dead and was still in some way a living organism, even if it wasn't technically alive. This resurrection process could also have sparked life into the corpse and its hair has started to grow.
A Ganondorf appears in the Four Swords Adventures and steals a powerful Trident from an ancient pyramid. He transforms into the beastly Ganon and is ultimately sealed by the Four Sword.
But according to Hyrule Historia, this is a new Ganondorf born to the Gerudo tribe. There is, in fact, a mural of this in the Breath of the Wild 2 trailer.
FOUR SWORDS: A mural of Ganondorf from the classic Zelda game
The trailer really seems to focus on the history of Ganondorf and it does seem to indicate, in its own way, that this Ganondorf follows the Child Timeline.
Speaking of artistic differences, it may just be that. It may be that the artists have decided to depict Ganondorf with longer hair for this game and to create the effect of Demise look more realistic; this is a great way to do it.
There's also plenty of jewellery that has been added to Ganondorf, which wasn't present there in Twilight Princess. Again, it brings into question as to whether this is the first time he has been resurrected since Twilight Princess? Or it could, again, be a stylistic choice.
There's also evidence that the Adult Link timeline impacted the story of Breath of the Wild via the tribes within the game. If you recall, Breath of the Wild included the bird-like Rito tribe. In 'The Wind Waker', they had evolved from the Zora (a fish species that is also present in the game).
Another Wind Waker race also impacts the game in the form of the Korok. They evolved from the elf-like Kokiri featured in Ocarina of Time.
So could this actually be a different timeline? With so much time passing between where we know the timeline to currently end and Breath of the Wild, it's can be assumed that these races evolved even outside of The Wind Waker's Adult Link timeline.
Where Does It Fit In The Timeline?
So how does this affect the Zelda Timeline?
Nintendo previously indicated Breath of the Wild takes place at the end of all three branches of the official timeline.
If you didn't know, there are three timelines that branch off after Ocarina of Time due to the time-travelling antics Link is involved in.
These three branches are:
- The Adult Link Timeline - Link defeats Ganon, returns to the past, leaving this timeline heroless, allowing Ganondorf to return
- The Fallen Hero Timeline - Link is defeated by Ganon, Zelda and the sages seal him away in the Sacred Realm where he creates the Dark World and eventually escapes
- The Child Link Timeline - Link returns as a kid to warn the King of Hyrule about Ganondorf's plans preventing the events of Ocarina of Time
Photo via Zelda Gamepedia
So ultimately, this version of Ganondorf follows the Majora's Mask, Twilight Princess and Four Swords Adventures timeline (the Child Timeline).
Nintendo haven't made things easy by saying it happens at the end of all three timelines. It's likely a generic position and phrase as to not give too much away.
It's impossible for all three timelines to converge into one, the only way something like that could appear is if they follow similar (but not identical) paths that lead to a Breath of the Wild scenario (with small differences).
Nintendo have a lot of options to play with and they tend to jump between different timeline stories as they see fit.
“Hyrule’s history changes with time," said Eiji Aonuma. "When we think of the next game and what we want to do with it, we might think, 'Oh, this’ll fit well,' and place it neatly into the timeline, but sometimes we think, 'Oh crap,' and have to change the placement. Actually, the decided history has been tweaked many times.”
“Lately within the company, a term called ‘New Translation’ has cropped up," said Hidemaro Fujibayashi. "Strictly speaking, we don’t change it, but rather new information and truths come to light.”
So a game's place is rarely finalised, some of the earliest iterations of Zelda have ended up being some of the latest entries in the timeline and based on the evidence above, there's probably a lot that happens in the timeline that leads up to Breath of the Wild 2.