Longtime fans of Legend of Zelda know that the series doesn’t have a “direct timeline.” Yes, we have an origin point via Skyward Sword, and games like Breath of the Wild were confirmed to be a “long time after that,” but when you look at the other games, it’s not quite so clear where they land. Case in point, there are some games that come after “alternate endings” to titles like Ocarina of Time. So yeah, it’s confusing, and that’s why Eiji Aonuma doesn’t put much into “finding their place” when making new games.
In an interview with Game Informer, the Legend of Zelda producer admitted that fans put more stock into timeline placement than they do, and they ignore it for the most part for a simple reason:
“As you mentioned, we realized that fans have a great time theorizing and enjoy thinking about where things fit on the timeline. That’s something that the development team recognizes and it considers, but to an extent. And I say, ‘to an extent’ because if we get too into the weeds or too detailed in that placement, it results in kind of creating restraints for our creativity; the process of creating new ideas becomes restricted because we’re so tied up and trying to make this fit into a very specific spot in the timeline. We do consider it, but not to an extent where we feel that our development process feels restricted or constrained.”
And when you think about it, that makes sense. They can still make references to the other games, like they did in Breath of the Wild, but they don’t need to meticulously figure out where things are.