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Tears of the Kingdom devs hint at its place in the Zelda timeline

The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom takes place "shortly after" Breath of the Wild, but TOTK may also establish it's place in the wider Zelda timeline.

Tears of the Kingdom Zelda timeline: Link wearing blue tunic with a black hood and sleeves

The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom’s place in the iconic Nintendo series’ timeline has been given a bit more clarity during an interview with some of the game’s top developers ahead of its impending launch. As well as finally confirming fans’ expectations that it is set after Breath of the Wild, the developers also discuss how the new game “connects to Hyrule’s past”.

While Tears of the Kingdom is a sequel to 2017’s Breath of the Wild and has been widely expected to take place chronologically after it, it has never been explicitly confirmed – and fans have had no idea exactly how far on from BOTW it is set.

However, in the build up to the Tears of the Kingdom release date, the first two chapters of a developer interview have been release by Nintendo, and in the first chapter, Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma confirms that TOTK “is set in Hyrule shortly after the end of [Breath of the Wild]”.

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With a timeline spanning thousands of years, we’ll leave the interpretation of “shortly” up to you, but to us that sounds like a few months or a couple of years at most.

In the second chapter, Aonuma and other members of the development team discuss the overarching theme of Tears of the Kingdom: hands. Everything from Link’s cursed right hand, to fighting alongside companions, to the new Tears of the Kingdom abilities like Fuse, are all based around the concept of hands and creating connections.

“This applies to the story too, which connects to Hyrule’s past,” Aonuma says. “It also talks about a major struggle called The Imprisoning War, which until now was considered a myth even in Hyrule.”

While its predecessor, Breath of the Wild, has maddened lore-obsessed fans with how it seems to draw from all three of the Zelda series’ perceived timelines, here we have a little tidbit that suggests where BOTW and TOTK truly lie.

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The Imprisoning War is mentioned in A Link to the Past, which makes up part of the ‘downfall’ timeline in which Ganondorf defeats Link and obtains the Triforce. The Imprisoning War saw Ganondorf wreak massive destruction on Hyrule, before being sealed away by the Seven Sages. The exact backstories of both Link and Breath of the Wild’s version of Ganon were left very ambiguous, but it sounds like we’re going to get a bit more context (and maybe a more concrete place in the Zelda timeline) in Tears of the Kingdom.

Of course, there is always the possibility that Tears of the Kingdom and Breath of the Wild will live in isolation in their own separate timeline that gives Nintendo free reign to draw on whatever context it pleases. But from what Aonuma says, there will definitely be more references and callbacks to past Zelda history.

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With the potential for lots of lore and plenty of complex Tears of the Kingdom characters, the game’s director, Hidemaro Fujibayashi, also confirms that new features have been added to help new or confused players connect the dots.

“We’ve prepared a Character Profile feature that players can see anytime during their adventure, so it’s easy to understand the relationship between characters, even without knowledge from the previous title,” Fujibayashi explains. “On the other hand, those who have played the previous game may enjoy reading these profiles, because some of the content will make you grin and think: ‘Right, I remember that’.”

To prepare for what is likely going to be one of the best Nintendo Switch games yet, why not have a look at our Tears of the Kingdom walkthrough of all the info we know so far.