Six years on from the release of Destiny 2, Bungie, the studio that created Halo, is ready to talk about what’s next. The developer, now owned by Sony, revealed its plans in the May 2023 PlayStation Showcase.
Bungie will finally become a two-game studio when it releases Marathon, which it will run alongside Destiny 2. The game is a team-based extraction shooter with a far-future sci-fi setting, and a cool, minimalist art style with lots of white space and splashes of neon color. It won’t have a single-player campaign. It’s in development for PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X, with full cross-play and cross-save.
On the official Marathon website, Bungie offers this synopsis: “A massive ghost ship hangs in low orbit over a lost colony on Tau Ceti IV. The 30,000 souls who call this place home have disappeared without a trace. Strange signals hint at mysterious artifacts, long-dormant AI, and troves of untold riches. You are a Runner, venturing into the unknown in a fight for fame… and infamy. Who among you will write their names across the stars?”
The game is set in the year 2850, by which time clone technology allows people to shift their consciousness between their born body and synthetic bodies — which explains the android-y look of the characters in the trailer.
“Become a runner in Bungie’s new sci-fi PvP extraction shooter,” continues Bungie’s blurb. “Compete for survival, riches, and renown in a world of evolving, persistent zones, where any run can lead to greatness.”
Marathon is actually a revival of one of Bungie’s earliest games. Originally released for Apple’s Macintosh PCs in 1994, the first Marathon, in which the player was cast as a security officer fending off an alien invasion of a spaceship, was also one of the earliest first-person shooters to enable free look using mouse control.
In an interview published on the PlayStation blog, game director Christopher Barrett said the new game was “not a direct sequel to the originals, but something that certainly belongs in the same universe.” He said to expect the “incredible feel of the weapons” and “beautiful and evocative world building” that he sees as core to Bungie’s games. He went on to note that players will be able to effect changes to the game’s persistent world with their runs.
Bungie general manager Scott Taylor wouldn’t give a timeline for the release of Marathon in the interview, although Bungie has previously said that it wants to launch a new, non-Destiny game by 2025.
First rumored in 2022, the reboot of Marathon was made possible thanks to a 2018 partnership with Chinese publisher NetEase that brought a cool $100 million of investment to Bungie, specifically to help it build multiple teams working on new properties. Although the studio has since been acquired by Sony, this will be music to the new owner’s ears — Sony has repeatedly said that it wanted Bungie for its expertise in multi-platform live-service games, not to build PlayStation exclusives. Sony said in 2022 that it wants to launch more than 10 live-service games by 2026, and with the announcement of Marathon, we can tick one off that list.
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