When we last left our heroes in Part 1, we were pointing out the key points at which the events of Age of Calamity diverge from Breath of the Wild. We were also exploring an interesting question: does Terrako create a new timeline when he jumps into the world of Age of Calamity, or did he just hop over to a timeline parallel to Breath of the Wild?
Now that Calamity Ganon is about to arrive on the scene, any differences are about to get much more apparent.
Right Place, Right Time
Age of Calamity’s Purah and Robbie are able to extract the part of Terrako’s memory which shows the horrid events of Calamity Ganon’s attack in BotW’s timeline. Crucially, this spills the beans that the attack will happen on Zelda’s seventeenth birthday. Instead of being taken completely by surprise, King Rhoam is able to evacuate Castle Town, and everyone knows to be battle-ready.
In both BotW and AoC, Zelda plans to go to the Spring of Wisdom on her seventeenth birthday in a last-ditch attempt to awaken her sealing powers. In BotW, not only does Zelda actually go, but all the Champions accompany her – and so when Calamity Ganon attacks, everyone is taken by complete surprise and has to rush to battle positions. From the base of Mount Lanayru.
Everyone hanging out together in BotW. Courtesy of Nintendo
But in AoC, Zelda is literally heading out the door when Calamity Ganon attacks. The Champions are still taken by surprise at Calamity Ganon’s arrival, but they’re at least already in the vicinity of their Divine Beasts.
The earlier timing might also be due to Terrako. Purah and Robbie are able to exact another nugget of Terrako’s memory that shows the Blight Ganons taking over the Divine Beasts. Purah and Robbie are immediately ambushed by the Yiga Clan, but the fact that Terrako is able to reach Zelda with that information in hand is likely enough of a threat to inspire Calamity Ganon to spring up early.
In BotW, Ganon attacks at sundown – because that’s when monsters have the advantage, as BotW players know very, very well.
Notably, King Rhoam is spared in the AoC timeline. And not really because Terrako spurs anything significantly different, other than maybe some long-lost, familial-feeling morale for Zelda’s passion for messing around with cool, old tech. No, King Rhoam is spared because he confiscated another one of Zelda’s ancient tech gadgets. Apparently, this King Rhoam has a real love for confiscating his daughter’s possessions.
With a Little Help from My (Future) Friends
After the initial assault on Hyrule Castle, Zelda is finally able to see Terrako’s memories of the corrupted Divine Beasts. Her tears somehow awaken Terrako’s time travel powers, and he brings four aids from Breath of the Wild’s timeline in to help the Champions defend their Divine Beasts.
It’s bizarre that, even though the narrative suggests that Terrako jumped time just as Zelda activated her sealing powers against Ganon, the aid he brings is from one hundred years after that happens. They also seem to all know Link personally, too, which suggests they exist after the events of BotW. Don’t worry about it, I guess.
In perfect harmony with the game’s theme of working together, the effect of these new time travelers on the battle’s eventual successful outcome cannot be overstated. Without the aid of the future-friends, the Divine Beasts still would’ve probably been overcome by the Blight Ganons, and Hyrule would’ve likely fell to a similar grim fate.
But the future-friends are able to help the Champions hold out until further help arrives. For example, in my case, Teba aided the ultra-proud Revali until Hetsu arrived to defeat Fireblight Ganon. You cannot convince me this is not what canonically happened.
A Successful Counter-Attack
Furthermore, keeping the Divine Beasts under the Champions’ control made all the difference in the world. Akkala Fortress doesn’t fall, because the Champions, their allies, and even one of the Divine Beasts are able to reinforce it, instead of just leaving it to the soldiers who retreated from Hyrule Castle.
Their forces are then able to aid the battle at Fort Hateno as well. This is a great improvement to Breath of the Wild, where Link and Zelda only end up near Fort Hateno because they’re retreating to Kakariko Village after all else has gone to crap. The other forces at Fort Hateno in Breath of the Wild are mostly amateurs, with a few Hylian soldiers posted nearby. While Fort Hateno does hold in BotW because of Link’s and Zelda’s anti-Guardian efforts, the attack in Age of Calamity is much less… er… haphazard.
Since the Blight Ganons have been driven out of the Divine Beasts, they’re able to show up where they please. So, interestingly, Fort Hateno is where Zelda’s sealing powers awaken in both timelines via a desire to save Link – from all the Blight Ganons in AoC, and from the trillionth Guardian in BotW.
Zelda’s powers awakening while there are still forces left to command ends up being the last piece to the brighter-future puzzle. In BotW, Zelda gives Link over the Sheikah so he can be put in the Shrine of Resurrection, and then heads to Hyrule Castle alone to face Ganon. But in AoC, she arrives at Hyrule Field in command of an army which includes essentially everyone in Hyrule.
Let’s also pause to remember how Nintendo once said Zelda would never be a fighter, yet now she’s commanding an army. Oh, how times change.
And the rest is history. With all the bolstering and new openings Terrako helped create, Zelda and company are able to push through the infiltrated Hyrule Castle and defeat Calamity Ganon. Hell, Terrako even helps them defeat Calamity Ganon (albeit after being corrupted by the proxy influence of Harbinger Ganon).
Whether the future-friends are sent back to Breath of the Wild’s timeline or to later in the AoC timeline or to another timeline altogether remains to be answered. And whether the Ganon beneath Hyrule Castle in the Breath of the Wild 2 trailer has anything to do with the humanoid Ganon you fight in AoC is another mystery. If there were only a sequel to BotW to address any outstanding questions…
So – Parallel, or Newly Generated?
The hot question remains: did Terrako’s time-travel action create a new timeline altogether, or was Age of Calamity already cruising along parallel to Breath of the Wild?
There is a loading screen entitled “Splintered Worlds” that says “When Terrako – pursued by Ganon’s Malice – arrived from the future, a new world was born.” This seems to say outright that the timeline of Age of Calamity was created by Terrako’s action, similar to how Zelda sending Link back in time at the end of Ocarina of Time creates an entirely new timeline.
BUT. If that were true, then everything before Terrako’s arrival would be exactly the same as it was in Breath of the Wild. However, that’s simply not the case. Link gets the Master Sword a full five-ish years later in the Age of Calamity timeline, and that’s a pretty dang huge difference. King Rhoam is also a slightly less shitty dad in Breath of the Wild’s timeline and doesn’t confiscate Terrako from Zelda – another huge difference from the pre-Terrako time.
Maybe Nintendo will clarify this information when it adds Breath of the Wild and Age of Calamity onto the official Zelda timeline. But, even though it seems like a stretch, “a new world was born” might simply be shorthand for an introduction of a parallel timeline into the fold. Some of those differences are just too big to account for.
Or, more interestingly, perhaps the world born by Terrako’s action isn’t explored in Age of Calamity. Maybe his action instead created the groundwork for merging the timelines in Breath of the Wild 2.
Or maybe those of us already familiar with the Zelda timeline just revel in making things even more convoluted.