Bungie intends to reboot its seminal, 1990s sci-fi shooter Marathon, according to a report on Thursday. The game, said to be in a pre-alpha state, will return as a squad-based, team-extraction type multiplayer shooter, according to Insider Gaming.
Bungie did not acknowledge the rumor, Insider Gaming said, and a public relations agency declined to comment.
In a 2019 interview with IGN, Bungie chief executive Pete Parsons said the studio had charted plans through 2025 that included launching a new, and non-Destiny, game that year. “We need to build our publishing group, but part of our vision also to become a multi-franchise entertainment company,” Parsons said at the time.
Then, in February 2021, Bungie announced an expansion of its Bellevue, Washington headquarters. “The new facility will include a reimagining of its Bellevue studio space to support multiple project teams, including those outside of the Destiny Universe.” Bungie also said it would open its first overseas office in 2022, in Amsterdam.
Marathon, which launched in 1994, was a critical and commercial success and, notably, an Apple MacOS exclusive. So were its two sequels, 1995’s Marathon 2: Durandal (although a version for windows launched one year later) and 1996’s Marathon Infinity. The series launched one year after Id Software’s groundbreaking Doom for MS-DOS and Windows PCs, and was a standard-bearer in Macintosh desktop gaming’s brief heyday from 1995 to 1997.
In the Marathon trilogy, players start aboard the UESC Marathon, an enormous space colonization vessel constructed from the Martian moon Deimos. The Marathon is disabled and assaulted by an alien race known as the Pfhor, and one of three shipboard AIs, named Durandal, is revealed to have gained sentience and is collaborating with the invaders.
Durandal returned in Marathon 2, which went planetside to the homeworld of another alien race, and again in Infinity, which took players on a space, time (and mind) bending trip through events of the first two games. Throughout the series, players unraveled the mysteries of the alien aggressors, Durandal’s sentience (and virtual psychosis), and the larger aims of both by reading computer logs and other in-world texts.
Bungie’s close association with Apple thanks to Marathon (as well as Myth and Oni) famously led to Halo: Combat Evolved’s original reveal at MacWorld 1999. Microsoft acquired Bungie one year later, turning Halo into the tentpole franchise for its Xbox console. There are numerous references to the Marathon trilogy made throughout the Halo games developed by Bungie from 2001 to 2010.
Bungie split from Microsoft in 2007; formed a publishing agreement with Activision in 2010; launched Destiny in 2014; retook full control of that franchise in 2019, and finally was acquired by Sony Interactive Entertainment in January of this year.