In Breath of the Wild, we became intimately familiar with the Sheikah Slate. In Tears of the Kingdom, we have what seems to be its successor, the Purah Pad. However, I am left with the impression, through many of the interactions we have with Purah and Robbie about the Pad, that they can't really remember the Sheikah Slate. Is the existence of the Sheikah Slate ever acknowledged in-game in Tears of the Kingdom, directly or indirectly?
4My current theory is that it is not a true direct sequel. We are in an alternative timeline, where link did not have all the sheikah stuff but still did save the kingdom. Because its weird if all of BOTW happened, the world changed a buttload, the shrines and towers dissapeared overnight, and nobody bats an eye. Like its not even mentionned or thrown away like 'oops all the sheikah tech stopped working when you defeated beast ganon'– Fredy31 ♦May 19 at 1:07
I concur with Fredy -- none of the events of the prior game are truly mentioned, and the only evidence of Guardians (that I've seen) has been the arms in the skyview towers.– Raven DreamerMay 19 at 1:45
@RavenDreamer are any of the Zelda games even true "prequels" or "sequels"? I think the only ones are Ocarnina of Time and Majora's Mask? My Zelda knowledge is limited, but they've always seemed independent of one another.– Timmy Jim ♦May 19 at 2:09
@RavenDreamer To add to that, there's an Ancient Blade material that's intended to be an arrowhead. When fired, it basically has the same effects of an Ancient Arrow. Don't remember where I got it but I'd consider that a more closer link.– Jeff MercadoMay 19 at 2:22
@TimmyJim Zelda II: Adventure of Link is a direct sequel to the original LoZ. Has pretty much zero effect on the game itself.– pboss3010May 19 at 13:46
I've done my best to block story spoilers, but you are inherently treading in spoilery territory by reading this answer. There's no protection against BOTW spoilers due to the game's age by now.
To keep things simple, I am lumping BOTW Malice and TOTK Gloom into a single term (Malice).
This is my ongoing theory
I am a few steps away from finishing the game, but if BOTW is anything to go by, I assume the game will not explicitly answer this in more detail than I currently have. If they do, I will be very pleasantly surprised, and I ask that you leave me to discover that for myself.
If you wish to add this information in a comment, please encrypt your information using tools such as ROT13 so that people who don't want to hear the spoilers don't stumble across them.
Some things are missing...
This is a very valid point and there's more kinds of these apparent inconsistencies.
Where did the divine beasts go?
Why are there no Guardian remains anymore?
Where did the Sheikah towers go?
This raises the immediate question whether this is the same timeline or not.
Time travel definitions?
In Back To The Future 2, old Biff Tannen gives young Biff Tannen a way to get rich. This changes old Biff Tannen's reality, making him wealthy. It is arguable whether you consider this a change to the existing timeline, or if it's a new timeline that overwrote the old one. It's not meaningfully answerable either.
My opinion here is that if people in TOTK remember the Sheikah tech, or there is evidence of it having been there (even if it's disappeared now), then this is the same timeline. You may disagree, and that's fine because this is all subjective interpretation. But this is how I've phrased my answer.
To answer the Back To The Future 2 question, I consider it the same timeline, as old Biff remembers not being wealthy and having given young Biff the almanac.
So, using this definition of a timeline, is it the same timeline?
A different timeline?
Based on the story as told through the teardrop memories, there's a reasonable argument why this is not the same timeline:
Heavy spoilers for the teardrop and sage memories in TOTK!
Zelda went back to the past and informed people in a way that had a meaningful effect on how Ganon was contained from that point onwards. We see her talking to several people in the past and preparing them for Link's fight in the future (during TOTK). She intentionally caused a massive butterfly effect.
This in turn meant that Ganon's Malice was not as present in Hyrule, which meant the Sheikah were never asked to develop the technology to protect against the (BOTW) Calamity, which is why the Sheikah tech simply does not exist and never existed in this timeline.
There is mention in one of the ancient Hyrulean texts (on the flower sky islands) that mention that the Zonai shrines have a suppressing effect on the Malice that Ganon spreads. This can explain why the shrines were built, and they might not have been built without Zelda's information, since it only makes sense to build them if you already assume that Ganon will persist after the battle between Ganon and the sages.
This is a reasonable explanation as to why the Sheikah shrines and tech were never created and why the Zonai shrines entered the picture instead.
The same timeline?
Siyin, the teacher of the newly opened Hateno school, specifically talks about the Calamity, and mentions the original story of how and when they fought the Calamity
I don't quite remember if Siyin's story refers to Link's BOTW adventure, the events that happened 100 years before when the Calamity struck Hyrule, or if it's referring to the first occurrence of the Calamity back when the Guardians were created. He also tells the children about the Divine Beasts, this question comes back when he later quizzes the class.
In any case, there is clearly memory of events that are invariably tied to Sheikah technology. This, to me, can suggest that we are still in the same timeline, and not some alternate timeline where Sheikah tech never existed.
So where did the Sheikah tech go?
Well, the first time they defeated the Calamity (not in BOTW but thousands of years before), the Sheikah tech was buried after they thought the Calamity was defeated. It was only King Rhoam, our Zelda's father, who we meet during the BOTW tutorial, who dug them back up because there was a new threat of a new Calamity (the one that BOTW focuses on).
It's perfectly possible that in the time between BOTW and TOTK, that they simply dismantled the technology again. They did a really good job at it, however, because I cannot find a single scrap of it, except Robbie's compendium database bot. There is additional reason to do so. Not just to clean house, but also to make sure that Ganon can't corrupt them again and start the Calamity all over.
Another explanation might be that the Upheaval is Ganon's new and updated attack on Hyrule. Clearly, he has some new tricks up his sleeve, as he corroded all the weapons, something which Calamity Ganon never did. It's a recurring thing with Ganon that he knows how to disable his enemies (it makes for a compelling story).
So it's possible that during the Upheaval, Ganon somehow disintegrated or otherwise targeted the Sheikah technology that had defeated him in the past. It's in-character for him. But again, it would require him to completely disintegrate it and remove all evidence; and if he could do that why are the weapons only corroded and not disintegrated?
Or something else completely?
I've also found one interesting reference in the game that I cannot ignore:
The ground-based labyrinths have a stone slab at the opening that talk about the "dragon ring", which is the Zonai green interface thing that Link interacts with. It is also explicitly mentioned that the slab is inscribed with the ancient Zonai language. Very clearly, the Zonai put it there.
However, in one of the labyrinths (I think it was the Hebra one), the person leaving the notes specifically remarks that according to him, that stone slab was not there before the Upheaval.
Who put the slab there? (dun dun duuuuuuun!)
This is, in my opinion, direct proof that the Upheaval altered the timeline. It did not overwrite it, it's still the timeline, but it effectively added some things and removed some others. The memories of the Sheikah-related past are still here, but the world itself was changed and removed the physical evidence.
According to this theory, it would mean that:
Zelda's actions in the past only changed the timeline from the point where she traveled to the past (i.e. in the beginning of TOTK). I'll call this the "travel point".
Anything before the travel point remained the same, because it needs to be the same. Otherwise, the events that lead up to Zelda exploring the cave, falling, and travelling to the past cannot possibly have happened. What you see in this section of the timeline are the consequences of Rauru's fight against Ganon without Zelda assisting him.
Anything after the travel point changed. The Sheikah tech disappeared, the Zonai tech appeared, ... Both Ganon's Upheaval and Zelda's butterfly effect changed the world. What you see in this section of the timeline are the consequences of Rauru's fight against Ganon with Zelda by his side. This includes Zelda having prepared everything for Link to be able to fight Ganon.
This is my current theory. I am a few steps away from finishing the game, but if BOTW is anything to go by, I assume the game will not explicitly answer this in more detail than I currently have. If they do, I will be very pleasantly surprised, and I ask that you leave me to discover that for myself.
Well, all the Sheikah Shrines are gone, and with it, probably the power source of the Sheikah Runes.
All the other uses of the device are now replicated by the Pad, so the Slate has probably been discarded by Link since its main adventuring capabilities, the Runes, are unusable?