Many missed the mysterious tribe of the Zonai in Breath of the Wild, but in the newest gameplay they have been revealed to play a larger role in Tears of the Kingdom. So here's a quick summary on what you need to know before the game releases.
Soon it will be time to explore the world of Hyrule again in Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. New features promise to enhance the gameplay we already know from BotW. But there is more to them than a first glance might make you think. Secrets from the predecessor seem to be a key feature in TotK. For those of you that are not lore deep divers, let me give you a crash course in the mysterious tribe of the Zonai.
All of this was sparked by the new gameplay shown by Mr. Aonuma, in which one of the items we see actually has the Zonai in its name:
Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom: Secrets Of The Zonai Tribe
If you only look at the footage, all one can guess is that the Zonai are somehow connected to the new technology in the sky, but the Zonai aren't new in Tears of the Kingdom. If you play through Breath of the Wild carefully, there are already mentions of the Zonai, although it's all very much shrouded in mystery. Specifically, the tribe created the Barbarian set you get for completing the three labyrinths, which are directly tied to them.
From the description of the set items, a core characteristic of the tribe can be distilled:
Armor once favored by an ancient warlike tribe from the Faron region.
So the Zonai were strong fighters, if a bit barbaric, but that's not all they were. In Faron Woods are large, mysterious ruins that at first glance one simply walks past. In truth, they are not just decoration, instead they show a deeper insight into the beliefs the tribe had and directly connect to the Triforce. Here a quote from the art book, which explains this further:
The ruins are primarily animal themed, but with the history of the Triforce from an ancient perspective in mind. The designs are symbolic—using dragons (courage), owls (wisdom), and boars (power).
It is also explained, that they were skilled magicians and many of their structures all over Hyrule have a spiral somehow incorporated.
Sadly that is all the information Breath of the Wild had on them. Though of course as fans, we can't let it end there, so you can find a lot of theories out there. Some of the most popular ones draw a connection between the Zonai and the Twilight tribe from Twilight Princess, especially considering the powerful mages and suddenly disappearing part of their story.
TOTK: Centered On The Zonai
Now you know the straight facts about the Zonai, but why are they so important for Tears of the Kingdom? That is easily explained and pretty explicit in all the footage we have of the game.
Be careful, because I am now delving into Spoiler territory as I review the trailers and gameplay Nintendo dropped of the game.
Right from the first trailer of the game, you find mysterious ruins Link and Zelda are traveling in. Those could be Sheikah, but careful viewers recognize the similarities to the Zonai ruins and the spiral motive coming from Ganondorf's "corpse". Also, everything is tinted green, even though we associate the Sheikah and their technology with the color blue.
This observation is supported by the second trailer, which also shows Link's new skills as colored green. We know he gets these from the mysterious ruins. Further, the logo has a pattern in green and with an animal inside it. Remember, the Zonai often used them in their structures.
Now, Mr. Aonuma's gameplay confirms a lot of these speculations. In it, you see him fight a new kind of robot in the sky, which has green colored power running through it. Then it drops an item called Zonai Charge. Basically this confirms the connection between this new technology and the Zonai and shows that we will get more information on the tribe in Tears of the Kingdom.
There are interesting observations to make on how the first game was dominated by the color blue, which in the franchise is associated with wisdom and Zelda, while the new game seemingly focuses on green, the color of courage and Link.
But that is a quick overview on the Zonai and their importance for Tears of the Kingdom. In preparation for the new game, it might be interesting to play through Breath of the Wild again and look to see, how many Zonai ruins you can spot.
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