Earth's Untimely Demise in 'Starfield' Forced Humans Into Space — Here's What Happened

You can visit Earth in 'Starfield,' but you won't find any speck of life. The once blue and green sphere is nothing but a dusty planet in-game. What happened?

Anthony Jones - Author

Sep. 12 2023, Published 4:35 p.m. ET

'Starfield' Player exploring the surface of a far-future and barren Earth.
Source: Bethesda Softworks

The gist:

  • Earth in Starfield lost its atmosphere and became unlivable for humans, forcing them to flee the planet.
  • Constellation's leader, Sarah Morgan, will discuss Earth's demise with players during a main story mission.
  • You can find relics of the past on Earth, but it's mostly a barren wasteland with few resources to gather.
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Set far into the fictional future, Starfield tries to encapsulate how humanity would thrive in space, explore the cosmos, and survive the unknown. Of course, with it being an RPG by Bethesda, it’s not entirely shooting for a 1:1 interpretation, but it does get the mind thinking.

What’s most surprising about this attempt is that Earth still exists in Starfield, and players can land their starship on it to explore the planet. Although, this Earth is essentially a hollow husk of its former glory.

You won’t find luscious ravines, the Pacific Ocean, or futuristic skyscrapers piercing the clouds. It’s only a barren wasteland with a handful of long-forgotten relics standing the test of time. If you've been aimlessly playing Starfield and haven’t touched the main story yet, you may be shocked to find Earth in this state. Here’s what happened.

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'Starfield' Close-up of Earth on the star map.
Source: Bethesda Softworks

What happened to Earth in 'Starfield'?

During a mission in Starfield, you will visit the Sol system with the Constellation’s leader, Sarah Morgan.

Your objective is a simple one involving finding a lost Artifact. However, while inside this system, Sarah will briefly discuss Earth’s untimely demise.

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The Earth lost its atmosphere. It started sputtering out into space. Humanity had about fifty years to evacuate the planet,” Sarah will explain. “That’s kind of how the United Colonies government started … Earth is more or less a dust ball now. You can occasionally find a few remnants of the world we left behind on the surface, but not much.”

As described by Sarah, the loss of atmosphere meant Earth was no longer livable for any life. What happened isn’t a shocking revelation but more so a realistic cause and effect of what can actually destroy the Earth.

Despite nothing of value left to acquire, players can still hunt down relics of humanity if they want.

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You can find eight landmarks based on real-world locations on Earth.

The remnants on Earth mentioned by Sarah are buildings and locations based on the real world. For instance, you can travel to New York and find what’s left of The Empire State Building or head to Dubai to gaze at the Burj Khalifa.

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At each landmark will be a collectible snow globe of what that location looked like in the past, but first, you'll have to read various in-game books referencing these locations to spawn the items.

It will take time to get all of them, but might be worth seeing human-made sights in a new light.

Starfield is now available for PC and Xbox Series X/S.

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