How Does Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Fit Into the Movie Timeline?

Does Ubisoft's Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora follow Avatar 2's plot and timeline?

Avatar Frontier of Pandora
Photo: Ubisoft

Ubisoft closed a somewhat quiet E3 2021 conference with a fresh look at their upcoming Avatar game, Frontiers of Pandora.

Previously known as “The Avatar Project,” this new game promises to offer a first-person open-world action-adventure set in the universe of James Cameron’s Avatar movie (and its still surprising number of currently planned sequels). While Frontiers of Pandora‘s debut trailer didn’t feature any gameplay to speak of, Ubisoft did release a description of the project that sheds a little light on its story and premise:

“In this new, standalone story, play as a Na’vi and embark on a journey across the Western Frontier, a never-before-seen part of Pandora. Explore a living and reactive world inhabited by unique creatures and new characters, and push back the formidable RDA forces that threaten it.”

It’s a simple enough and fairly interesting premise, but it doesn’t exactly answer the question that many people are wondering right now: “How does Frontiers of Pandora fit into the movie timeline?”

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If you’re looking for an official answer to that question, it doesn’t look like you’re going to find it yet. While Ubisoft notes that the game will tell a “new, standalone story,” they don’t really say when that story will take place in relation to the original Avatar movie’s plot (which occurred in the year 2154) or any of the upcoming sequels.

However, that vague description does offer a few key timeline hints. Most notably, it mentions the RDA; the group largely responsible for expeditions to Pandora as well as the resource gathering efforts that eventually escalate a conflict between humans and Na’vi.

The Avatar timeline isn’t exactly the most detailed piece of fiction in sci-fi history, but we do know that conflict between the RDA and the Na’vi began as early as 2134. While it’s possible that this upcoming game takes place slightly before then, the game’s description and trailer footage suggest that the two sides are very much in the thick of battle by the time we hop into that adventure.

It’s also very much worth noting that the studio’s previous Avatar adaptation (the simply titled James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game) was actually a prequel to the original Avatar movie that took place about two years before the events of that film’s story.

At the time that game was being marketed, Ubisoft devs noted that they were afforded a great deal of creative control in regards to their use of the Avatar mythology. They even reportedly worked with James Cameron to acquire certain assets from the film (which was still being shot at the time the game was in development).

Assuming they’ve retained a somewhat friendly relationship with the filmmaker, then it’s actually possible that Frontiers of Pandora could take place around the same time as the events of Avatar 2. Actually, it’s likely at this point that this game will be released in at least the same year as the next Avatar film (2022, probably). While I doubt this game will be closely associated with the upcoming film, it makes some sense that it may borrow certain design elements from the sequel. Actually, while we only have brief descriptions of the game and sequel to work with at the moment, it’s certainly interesting that both reference exploring new regions of Pandora.

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Again, the fact that one of the first details Ubisoft confirmed about Frontiers of Pandora is that it tells an “original story” probably means that the game won’t be closely related to the upcoming film. If pressed to guess, though, I’d say that the most likely possibility is that Frontiers of Pandora either distances itself from the Avatar movies as much as possible by taking us back closer to the year 2134, or it tells a separate story that occurs closer to the events of the Avatar 2 film without directly touching upon too many of the specific plot points that will be featured in that sequel.