Bethesda updated its wildly anticipated sci-fi RPG Starfield’s website with a canonical timeline on August 14. Aside from digging into three centuries of imagined interplanetary drama that lead to the events that kick off Starfield in 2330, Bethesda’s timeline also makes some ambitious predictions about our more tangible, immediate future, including when humanity might stick its feet on Mars.
That’ll happen for the first time in 2050, the timeline decrees, only 27 years from now. For real-world context, in 2033, China hopes to become the first country to send a crewed flight to Mars, though NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has recently been suffering on the dusty, red planet, and it doesn’t even have frangible lungs. Billion-dollar baby Elon Musk is already thinking way past that—he says he’ll deposit one million people on Mars by 2050, but he also helmed the ugly Twitter rebrand and seems like the kind of person who has little bugs in his ears that tell him what to do, so take his word with caution.
In Starfield, not only do humans successfully reach Mars in the near future, but also, they get so picky that they look past it and decide to colonize Alpha Centauri (a triple star system in the Milky Way that might actually contain hospitable exoplanets) instead. Again, this is not completely removed from reality; astronomers have been hunting for an Earth-like planet near Alpha Centauri for a while now, though, if they found one, researchers suggest it would still take about 6,300 years to fly there. Starfield’s proposed timeline alternatively predicts that humans arrive at Alpha Centauri in 2156 and establish the United Colonies by 2159, which is, I’d say, more optimistic.
Then, after two centuries of galactic catfighting about border control, honored treaties, and money, a found artifact cements space explorer group Constellation’s importance and sets up the events of the game. It skews more “fiction” than “science,” but at least it’s epic.
And unlike the day that blasting off to Mars becomes as quotidian as taking a towel to the beach, you don’t have to wait much longer to explore Starfield’s intrigue and 1,000 planets—it’s out on Xbox Series X/S and PC on September 6.