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Everything we know about Marathon

Could Marathon be coming in May 2025?

The UESC Marathon ship, lodged inside a moon, orbits the planet Tau Ceti IV in Marathon.
Image credit: Bungie

Looking for all the latest information on Marathon, Bungie's fascinating new extraction shooter? Those of us who were playing shooters in the 90s were likely very intrigued by Bungie's announcement of Marathon - a PvP reimagining of their own trilogy of shooters from the days long before Halo and Destiny.

While only a couple of videos have been revealed so far about Marathon, there's a wealth of detail to decipher in both the videos and the lore of the original trilogy. The game may still be a couple years out yet, but below we'll explore everything you need to know about Marathon, from release date speculation to deep dives into the weird and wonderful story, the setting of Tau Ceti IV, the gameplay, AI enemies, and much more.

In this guide:

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Marathon release date speculation

There is no official release date for Marathon yet, but our best guess is that the Marathon release date is 27th April 2025. We know from an IGN interview with CEO Pete Parsons that Bungie intend to release a non-Destiny game by 2025, and so far Marathon seems likely to fit this schedule.

We currently think the release date might be 27th April because of a possible easter egg in the Marathon announcement trailer below: when the runner gets shot, there's a shot where we clearly see the number "27.04." on a pack by the runner's thigh.

Two side-by-side screenshots of runners in the Marathon trailer, with orange circles highlighting the number "27.04." on both runners' packs.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bungie

This number is shown again on a similar red pack on the body of the shooter's squadmate, making it seem like a significant number. Bungie in the past have been known to insert easter eggs relating to release dates in their trailers and media, so it wouldn't surprise us at all if this is the release date they're aiming for with Marathon.

This is all speculation, however. At the moment, Marathon remains firmly in a pre-alpha state, and we likely won't hear much more about the game for some time while Bungie focus on "developing and playtesting the game", and "marching towards [their] alpha", according to the Marathon dev diary above.

Marathon platforms and crossplay

When Marathon does eventually release, it will arrive on both PC and current-gen consoles, which means PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. There will also be full crossplay and cross-save functionality between different platforms, so you can seamlessly move from one platform to another without losing progress, and also contend with rival players on different platforms during matches.

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What is Marathon?

Marathon is Bungie's upcoming extraction shooter. But it's also a reimagining of their previous release (also called Marathon) way back in 1994, long before the dev team shot to stardom with 2001's Halo: Combat Evolved.

1994's Marathon was dubbed a "Doom killer" at the time, with similar corridor shooting mechanics to Id's iconic Doom series. But Marathon had a few key innovations. First was its rendering engine, which for the time was very impressive. Second, it was the first ever major release to allow players to freely control the camera along both axis with the mouse - a mechanic which is now synonymous with first-person games. And third - it placed great emphasis on its expansive and obscure storyline, which continued with the game's sequels: Marathon 2: Durandal in 1995, and Marathon Infinity in 1996.

Marathon concept art of two allied runners looking at a target offscreen, one of them aiming with a mounted sniper rifle.
Image credit: Bungie

The new remake of Marathon is still a first-person shooter, but now Bungie are delving for the first time into the blossoming "extraction shooter" genre, following in the footsteps of games like Escape From Tarkov, Hunt: Showdown, and The Cycle: Frontier.

Marathon gameplay explained

In Marathon, you take on the role of a cybernetic clone mercenary known as a "runner". You can either group up in squads of 2 or 3, or choose to play solo, but either way you'll drop into a persistent map filled with AI dangers and rival squads of players, and attempt to complete your objectives and escape from the map before you die to the environment, AI, or another player.

Unlike most shooters, the aim in Marathon isn't necessarily to beat everyone else or get the most kills. Instead, you choose your own missions before each match (which could range from killing specific creatures to finding and extracting with certain bits of gear or other valuables), pick your loadout from various weapons and implants, and attempt to complete your missions before extracting with all your hard-won loot. But if you die, then you lose everything on your person.

According to Bungie, Marathon is being built from the ground up as a competitive PvP game. There is an internal team at Bungie dedicated entirely to maintaining security and combating cheaters, as well as quality of life features such as disconnect recovery from day one. One source, reported on by Insider Gaming, also states that "the team is aiming for single-digit load times from 'Readying Up' to playing on the server". Impressive stuff, if they can pull it all off.

A cybernetic runner in the Marathon trailer aims with a rifle at an enemy off-screen.
Image credit: Bungie

Abilities and perks

According to recent leaks from Insider Gaming, Marathon is looking to deviate from the standard core gameplay loop of all extraction shooters in a few key areas. The first is through the addition of abilities and perks which can give you advantages in particular situations. Perks have weaker, passive effects, while abilities are activatable skills with more potent effects. For example, one perk might allow you to move faster in water or revive a teammate more quickly, while a certain ability gives you temporary night vision (which may also suggest different weather/time of day modifiers for different matches, or perhaps just dark indoor sections within Marathon's maps).

A runner sprints down a dark corridor in the Marathon trailer, with a green glowing timer on their back counting down.
Image credit: Bungie

Oxygen meter

Marathon's world is persistent, which essentially means it doesn't wait for you. It keeps going without you, and when you next hop into a map, it will likely already be populated by other runners going about their business. But you can't stay on the map forever, and that's thanks to your ever-dwindling Oxygen meter.

Your Oxygen meter in Marathon acts as a countdown timer. You'll need to extract from the map before your Oxygen reaches zero, or you'll lose health until you die. Match countdown timers aren't new to the genre, but Bungie's decision to focus it on your Oxygen supply allows them to play around a lot more. For example, you can extend the maximum time you're allowed to be in the map by bringing along an extra Oxygen tank - or you could just get lucky and find one during the match. You could get a perk which allows you to consume Oxygen at a lesser rate, extending the countdown timer - or conversely, you could sustain damage to your Oxygen supply in a firefight, which will cause the timer to countdown faster.

One interesting point is that we can see the runner's Oxygen supply as a number on their back in the announcement trailer. Does this mean that players will be able to see their rivals' Oxygen supply if they get close enough? That could lead to some interesting tactical decision-making during matches, as you decide whether to push or simply hold an extraction point against an enemy with low Oxygen.

A dead runner sinks into a pool of milky white liquid in the Marathon trailer, with blue liquid spilling from their body.
Image credit: Bungie

Injury system

In a similar vein to Escape From Tarkov, Marathon will feature an injury system. This means that any damage you receive may have additional negative effects besides just losing health, and the type of negative effect you receive depends on where in the body you were shot.

As we mentioned, being shot in the midriff could damage your Oxygen supply and cause it to dwindle more rapidly. The other example we've heard is that if you are concussed (presumably by a blow to the head), you may start to experience moments of blurred screen effects, which can obviously hinder you massively if you're in the middle of a fight.

We also know that aside from weapons and other gear, runners can make use of "implants" to augment their cybernetic bodies. It's unclear as yet whether the injury system extends to damaging or destroying these implants, but we do know that if you die, then there's a chance you could lose implants too.

Cybernetic silkworms slowly create the chassis or exoskeleton of a cybernetic runner's face in a shot from the Marathon announcement trailer.
Image credit: Bungie

Fame and immortalisation

In their dev diary, Bungie heavily alluded to certain mechanics in Marathon which will immortalise players for certain achievements, particularly if they are the first in the world to do a particular thing. The example provided by Christopher Barrett, Game Director for Marathon, was as follows:

"What runners are doing is gonna be that exciting narrative that unfolds over the course of a season. Who knows what's gonna happen, but imagine if one crew happens to find an alien key. They place it on this altar and then they get immortalised for opening up the next zone. And they have to go and figure out how to then unlock that for everbody else."

It's a very interesting and exciting idea, and a great way to give players lots of different objectives besides just camping extraction areas and racking up kills. It undoubtedly won't take long for players to start unlocking the various hidden depths of Marathon and expanding the world for the entire playerbase. But if Bungie keep adding new secrets and content over time, it could help turn Marathon into a fine example of how to do live-service right.

A runner reaches towards a glowing red artifact in Marathon.
Image credit: Bungie

Combining Artifacts

Central to both the gameplay and the story of Marathon are special items called Artifacts, which are among the most valuable pieces of loot you can come across during a match. It's unclear so far whether they have any gameplay benefit on their own, but we do know that you can combine Artifact pieces into bigger and more valuable versions known as "Prime Artifacts" - the holy grail of Marathon's loot.

Marathon story and lore

Marathon builds upon the expansive story of the original 90s trilogy of shooters - and let me tell you, those were some crazy stories absolutely packed with interesting lore. But let's start with Bungie's official description of the game on the Marathon website:

"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?"

We can see this ghost ship in the announcement trailer, seemingly embedded in the planet's moon. This hearkens back to the 1994 Marathon story, in which Mars's moon Deimos is converted into the gigantic colony ship UESC Marathon. In the original game, the Marathon is sent to establish a colony on the planet Tau Ceti IV in the year 2794, but both the colony and the ship are attacked by a race of alien slavers called the Pfhor (pronounced "four").

The player in Marathon (1994) aims their pistol at a Compiler drifting down a darkened corridor towards them.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bungie

The attack seemingly knocks out two of the three AIs governing the Marathon, and the remaining AI - Leela - attempts to aid the player in restoring the other AIs amidst the Pfhor attack. However, it becomes clear that one of the AIs - Durandal - has become rampant (self-aware), and was in fact the one who called the Pfhor to the Tau Ceti system as part of its hideously convoluted plan to outlast the universe itself.

The story across the trilogy becomes ever-more complex and bizarre from there, with rampant AIs attempting to destroy one another or outlast the universe; the destruction of a planet releasing a godlike eldritch being known as the W'rkncacnter upon the universe; and the use of time travel and alternative reality jumping to undo this horrifying mistake. Pretty crazy stuff, but it means there's a huge amount of lore and history to draw from for the new game!

The UESC Marathon ship, lodged inside a moon, orbits the planet Tau Ceti IV in Marathon.
Image credit: Bungie

The new Marathon is set in 2850, over half a century after the events of the first game, but it's still unclear whether the game is a sequel or a retelling. The opening description - of a ship in orbit over a lost Tau Ceti colony - certainly seems to indicate that the new Marathon will retell a similar story, although there will doubtless be changes from the original to the new game.

For one thing, the protagonist is different. You're no longer playing the role of a security officer on the Marathon, but of a cybernetic "runner" sent down into the Tau Ceti colony itself to gather loot and intelligence. So even if Bungie's reimagining of Marathon tells a very similar story, it will certainly be experienced in a very different way.

Concept art of a grassy indoor greenhouse area in Marathon.
Image credit: Bungie

Marathon setting: Tau Ceti IV

Marathon will take place on a planet called Tau Ceti IV, where a colony of 30,000 people has seemingly vanished, leaving behind a treasure trove of valuable loot. According to the Insider Gaming leaks, Bungie are currently working on three different maps, presumably all located on Tau Ceti IV - although whether all 3 maps will be available at launch is unknown.

Bungie have said that players will drop into "persistent, evolving zones", where the fame system mentioned above will allow players to unlock certain aspects of the maps for the entire playerbase. Also, one of the final shots in the announcement trailer shows a gigantic storm on the surface of Tau Ceti IV, which may indicate changing weather conditions on the maps of Marathon (please, please let there be rain). This is backed up by mention in the dev diary of the world's ability to "push back on you in the right amount", which indicates that as well as AI enemies and other players, you may also have to contend with environmental hazards - much like the storms in The Cycle: Frontier.

Concept art of a close-up of a runner's cybernetic face in Marathon.
Image credit: Bungie

Marathon enemies

The most dangerous adversaries you'll encounter in Marathon's matches will obviously be other player-controlled runners, but they're not the only threat. AI enemies are present on the maps of Marathon, and it seems like a few of them will be very familiar to anyone who played the original 90s trilogy.

The main enemies in Marathon have historically been the Pfhor, the alien slaver race which attacked Tau Ceti IV and the UESC Marathon in the original game. The Pfhor subjugate other aliens and make them fight on the Pfhor's behalf, so there'll be a wide variety of enemy types to face.

In fact, we already got a glimpse of one particularly iconic enemy type in the announcement trailer. It's this guy:

The silhouette of a Compiler in the Marathon trailer, their green glowing light in the centre of their chest visible in the dark.
Image credit: Bungie

This is a Compiler, a member of a race known as the S'pht (pronounced "S'fit"), which featured heavily in the original trilogy. Essentially a machine draped in a cloak, these Compilers will unfurl their cloaks menacingly in order to shoot a powerful bolt of energy towards their target. They're meant to be pretty powerful, and likely not the kind of enemy you can safely ignore in Marathon.

Well, that wraps up just about everything we know so far about Marathon. Are you excited? I certainly am. With the shutdown of The Cycle: Frontier, I'm looking for a new extraction shooter to sink my teeth into. It may be a while away, but there's enough info here to keep me cautiously optimistic that Bungie can stay true to form and deliver a fantastic sci-fi shooter experience in a new sub-genre.

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