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Classic FPS Marathon is now available for free on Steam, sequels coming soon

Why it matters: Bungie’s Marathon made a significant impact in the early days of first-person shooters, but the franchise was largely forgotten after the success of the company’s most famous property – Halo. Hopefully, releasing the Marathon trilogy on Steam will make it accessible enough to give the games the recognition they deserve.

The first Marathon game is now available on Steam for free as Classic Marathon. Its two sequels are listed on the store as “coming soon,” but their exact release dates are unclear.

Bungie originally developed the Marathon trilogy for Mac during the mid-1990s, almost as an answer to id Software’s iconic Doom. The original Marathon, which turns 30 this December, pioneered the ability to look up and down in an FPS. Some elements found in Halo originated in Marathon.

The Steam release is based on the Aleph One source port, which modified the Marathon 2 engine to run on modern operating systems. It adds an optional new HUD, widescreen support, 3D filtering, positional audio, controller support, and higher framerates using interpolation. Multiplayer with up to eight players is supported over peer-to-peer and LAN.

Users unaccustomed to FPSs from the 90s should note that the new release uses the classic HUD by default, which displays as a tiny window and runs the game in its original low resolution. To play Marathon with a more modern feel, toggle the resolution, framerate, and camera recenter settings in the Preferences menu.

The source ports for the three games have been available on the developer’s website and iOS for some time, but the Steam release adds achievements and cloud saves.

The Steam release for the first Marathon currently supports Windows and macOS, while the independent website also includes a Linux version. Hopefully, full SteamOS compatibility will emerge to make the game easier to run on the Steam Deck.

Bungie announced a new Marathon title in 2022. However, unlike the originals, which are conventional story-based games, the upcoming entry will be an online shooter akin to Escape from Tarkov or Hunt: Showdown. The company is also assisting its new parent Sony in developing numerous other live service games, possibly including Destiny 3.

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