When it comes down to it, one of the biggest issues with the story in the Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is how little it connects to the previous game. Indeed, with only a few characters recognising Link and many elements recycled from Breath of the Wild, it almost feels like it’s meant to a replacement for said title rather than a direct sequel.
And this is especially true with the fate of the Divine Beasts, Guardians and other Sheikah technology. It’s completely missing in TotK, with no one in that game even mentioning its existence, let alone explaining what happened to it between games.
But now we’ve got an answer, thanks to a new interview with Eiji Aonuma and Hidemaro Fujibayashi in the Daily Telegraph. In that interview, they were asked what happened to the missing technology, and had this to say:
They (the Guardians/Divine Beasts) disappeared after the Calamity was defeated (sealed),” Fujibayashi explains. “All of the people of Hyrule also witnessed this, but there is no one who knows the mechanism or reason why they disappeared, and it is considered a mystery. It is believed that since the Calamity disappeared, they also disappeared as their role had been fulfilled.
“It is, anyway, commonplace for mysterious events and strange phenomena to occur in Hyrule,” he offers, mischievously. “Thus, people have simply assumed the reason behind the disappearance to likely be related to ancient Sheikah technology and it seems there is no one who has tried to explore the matter further. The main civilizations in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom are completely different, so we thought about the game based on concepts that match each of these civilizations.” The short answer? Don’t worry about it.
So, it’s now official. The Divine Beasts, Guardians and other bits of Sheikah tech vanished after the events of the last game, since they recognised the Calamity was defeated and they wouldn’t (theoretically) be needed anymore.
Which on a certain level, does definitely make sense. The Sheikah themselves likely knew how dangerous their technology would be in the wrong hands, and had at least some way of making sure it wouldn’t be used once the kingdom had no need for it. Plus, with Ganondorf’s presence under Hyrule Castle being a mystery, it’s also likely they thought Calamity Ganon was the only major threat to worry about, with other monsters and villains being far more manageable with Hyrule’s existing technology and military capabilities.
Additionally, given that the monks themselves vanish after completing a shrine, and their other technology seems to appear/disappear based on the situation, it’s certainly possible the capacity to do this at least exists in universe. They made the shrines appear when needed, they can easily get rid of them again.
Hence at first glance, the explanation seems logical enough. The Sheikah can do this sort of thing, they wouldn’t expect another threat, and they might know their technology would be too dangerous to end up in the wrong hands.
Yet then you think about it a bit more. And when you do… well, a lot of cracks start showing up in Fujibayashi’s explanation.
For starters, why would the people of Hyrule just ignore the Sheikah tech all vanishing without a trace? Sure, the average farmer or soldier might not care, and the people in places like Goron City or Zora’s Domain probably wouldn’t even have noticed…
But the likes of Purah and Robbie would. They’d want to know why all the tech is going missing, and what they can do to reverse engineer it for their own ends. So, it doesn’t make sense that no one would want to explore this mystery any further.
Then there’s the whole purpose of the Sheikah tech to begin with. In theory, it makes sense that it wouldn’t be around without the Calamity. After all, it was designed for that purpose, and probably at least a tad overpowered for everyday life.
Yet nothing in the game actually suggests that’s the case. No, up until Breath of the Wild’s backstory, said tech has been lying around ready to use for centuries or millennia. The Guardians and Divine Beasts weren’t magically teleported in when needed, they were excavated from the landscape. Same goes with most other tech from that era, up to and possibly including the shrines themselves.
So why would they go away now? Sure, the Calamity is technically gone now while it was sealed away in the past…
But is there really any meaningful difference there? Ganon is a very persistent creature that’s menaced Hyrule since pretty much its founding, so surely the Sheikah would have figured the Calamity being defeated might not mean the end of it all. And even if that was the case, the tech in question wasn’t only created to stop the Calamity. It was also created as part of a Sheikah plan to modernise the kingdom and improve the living conditions for everyone there, at least until that paranoid king ordered it all taken down and destroyed.
Hence there’s no reason it’d all go away at the same time here. Sure, maybe the Guardians and Divine Beasts wouldn’t needed, since they’re military weapons. But the rest of it? That’s just everyday stuff for the Hyrulean people, not necessarily a one off for dire situations. Getting rid of it would be like getting rid of all electrical devices in the real world after world peace was achieved…
There are also numerous technical issues with the explanation too, especially when it comes to the destroyed stuff.
Since while the active Guardians and Divine Beasts could be destroyed or teleported away, and things like the shrines are probably intact enough to have the same functionality keep working…
Not every piece of Sheikah tech survived past the Great Calamity, let alone the events of Breath of the Wild. Instead, most of the Guardians got absolutely wrecked in those wars, with places like Fort Hateno being littered with the husks of destroyed Guardians from those deadly battles.
So how would the shutdown/teleport/self-destruct command even affect them? Would it really keep working after every other piece of machinery in the Guardian has either blown up or shut down, to the point whole body parts are now lying halfway across the area? We strongly doubt it, in the same we doubt your Nintendo Switch console would keep functioning after being hit with a missile or thrown out a 20th story window.
And even it could, this would seemingly be incompatible with in game evidence too. Why? Because there’s a destroyed Guardian strapped to the roof of the Hateno Ancient Tech Lab in Breath of the Wild, and it’s still there in Tears of the Kingdom. Could that one particular machine avoid the shutdown procedure here? How about the furnaces and ovens that still exist in Tears of the Kingdom and seem to have been retooled into things like Robbie’s Compendium photo storage device? Are those somehow immune to the Sheikah Shutdown Procedure as well?
Oh, and let’s not even bring in the problems Age of Calamity raises either. Okay, it’s dubious how canon that game is to the series, but it seems fair to assume that its events happened in at least one universe, and that the stuff prior to the Champions being saved was how it went down in the Breath of the Wild backstory.
So… how does its content factor in? Does Terrako suddenly disappear once the Calamity has been dealt with? Is Terrako even Sheikah tech at all?
Honestly, we’re not sure… but if it is, it’s clear that these rules don’t apply to it. The heroes rebuild Terrako in the postgame after the Calamity has been averted, and it’s shown to travel around and interact with people in that now saved world. Hence the whole ‘Sheikah tech has to go away post Calamity’ rule clearly doesn’t apply to the time travelling Guardian either.
Still, it’s probably best not to even question how that game works here, since its time travel setup causes even more problems with the Sheikah shutdown defence setup too. After all, didn’t Calamity Ganon send part of its essence into the past in the intro of that title? Then use said essence to create Harbinger Ganon, which was in all practicality a second Calamity Ganon form?
Yeah, it did. So, what happens if the same thing happens in reverse here?
If somehow, the Calamity sends part of its form forward in time to after the original Breath of the Wild Calamity got defeated?
Oh look, you’ve got another Calamity. One which thanks to the ill-thought-out defence system, Hyrule is completely unable to stop.
This only gets more confusing when you think about lesser-known tech created via Sheikah blueprints after the Calamity too. After all, do you know who else creates ancient technology?
Robbie in Breath of the Wild.
So, what happens to the stuff he makes in that game? Do the ancient arrows, ancient armour and ancient weapons also go missing due to the same system? Or is it still lying around in Hyrule somewhere, waiting to be used against another threat?
Who knows. Given all the ancient arrowheads you can find, it definitely seems like some technology survived the events of the Calamity here, so perhaps Robbie’s work was lucky enough to do likewise. Or hell, somehow degraded into that form, and ended up being the source of said items in Tears of the Kingdom.
Regardless, the explanation doesn’t hold a lot of water when you examine it closely, and leaves you with potentially even plot holes than when you started. So, take from it what you will, and maybe just take Nintendo’s advice to ‘not worry about it’ if these issues bother you too much.
But yeah, that’s the official reason the Guardians and Divine Beasts aren’t in Tears of the Kingdom. They vanished after the Calamity, and no one bothered to look into why that happened. Either way, what do you think? Are you pleased with Nintendo’s official explanation here? How does the setup square with all the contradictions and weird edge cases from both Age of Calamity, Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom itself?
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