It’s been more than 25 years since the last game in the storied Marathon first-person shooter franchise came out, but developer Bungie is (sort of) returning to its roots by rebooting the IP with a new game simply titled Marathon.
The game was revealed as a PlayStation 5 title in a short cinematic trailer during Sony’s not-E3 “PlayStation Showcase” stream Wednesday afternoon. That said, it is also coming to PC and Xbox Series X/S. Bungie says it will support cross-play and cross-save between those platforms, just like the developer’s current flagship title, Destiny 2.
The cross-platform nature of it wasn’t a foregone conclusion though, as Sony closed an acquisition of Bungie in July 2022. This is Bungie’s first non-Destiny title in 13 years.
According to an interview published on the PlayStation Blog, the new Marathon game will be set in the same universe as the original games, drawing from their lore, themes, and story. Look to Destiny, not the original Marathon games, for a hint at what kind of game the new Marathon will be, though; this will be a multiplayer, game-as-a-service affair, in contrast to the original franchise’s single-player campaigns. Specifically, Marathon will be an extraction shooter—a genre that has become increasingly popular over the past few years.
Extraction shooters are spinoffs from the winner-takes-all battle royale genre (as seen in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite, and well, a whole lot of imitators over the past few years), but there are some significant differences. Like a battle royale, an extraction shooter sees you diving into an expansive, open field of combat with several other players, but the player account tends to be lower, the gameplay is slower-paced, and the goal is to leave the battlefield with loot you’ve acquired rather than eliminate all the other players. Arguably, the most popular game in the genre is Escape From Tarkov, but there are many others.
That said, the interview in the PlayStation blog suggests that there will be more substantial story components in this game than you see in other extraction shooters—which makes sense, as the story has been a big factor in Destiny 2.
Despite these modern gameplay mechanics, the announcement of Marathon is a throwback to an earlier era of Bungie. The Marathon games were originally Mac exclusives, and Bungie’s following IP Halo was planned to be as well until Microsoft acquired Bungie and made the game a first-party franchise. Later, Bungie and Microsoft split (with Microsoft retaining control of the Halo franchise and making its own titles within a different studio). Bungie then released Destiny cross-platform in 2014, with Activision publishing, and then Destiny 2 with the same arrangement in 2017. In 2019, Bungie ended its relationship with Activision and began self-publishing, but that didn’t last too long; Sony acquired Bungie in 2022. Meanwhile, Microsoft announced (now stalling) plans to acquire Activision.
It’s been a convoluted journey, to be sure. Bungie hasn’t announced a release date or monetization model for Marathon yet.
Listing image by Bungie