Wow, Bungie’s Marathon Is The Coolest-Looking Shooter In Years

Wow, Bungie's Marathon Is The Coolest-Looking Shooter In Years

I rarely watch a video game trailer more than once. Still, with Bungie’s Marathon reboot/sequel/whatever, I found myself looping its sleek, sleek trailer. It’s not just because the trailer slaps, but because Bungie teases seems to be one of the coolest shooters released in years.

On March 24, shortly before a Spider-Man 2 trailer set off an all-new “puddle“, Bungie (Halo, Destiny) has revealed its next great first person shooter: Marathon. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because it’s actually Bungie returning to one of its oldest franchises, the Mac-only shooter trilogy, Marathon. You can read more about these ancient games, their beloved lore, and how it connects to Halo and modern extraction shooters in this piece from our very own Claire Jackson.

However, I’m not here to talk about lore, history, Marathon fandom, or anything related to the Bungie mythos. No, instead, I just want to gush for a few paragraphs about how refreshing and impressive the look and trailer of this game is compared to most other shooters and games available today. And I don’t seem to be the only one loving this trailer as it has already reached 18 million views on YouTube.

PlayStation / Bungie

Marathon has one of the best game trailers of 2023

From the moment the the intense electronic music of the trailer starts at the beginning, I was engaged. Then we see someone in a radiant-looking sci-fi outfit running through a tunnel, while shots of brightly colored robot insects create complex android-like beings. What’s going on here? I don’t know, But did you just hear that sick piece in the music?

Either way, the running character exits the darkest tunnels and enters an incredibly bright world where we see he’s also sporting vibrant colors, including a glowing neon pink helmet. The music builds as the camera zooms closer and closer to the runner. Things seem tense as the music turns into a digital mess, then BAM! That’s all she wrote for this racer as they are pulled from afar by a slick, paper-white looking android. Our now-dead runner is seen collapsing in slow motion into what appears to be a milk-like substance, their inky blue blood mixing and swirling in the water around their corpse. As the robot sniper snatches something from the dead runner, the music plays back, fades out and BAM! Bungie Reveals This Vibrant Trailer Was For A New Marathon.

“Vibrant” is really the key word here. Everything in this trailer pops in a way that I haven’t seen in most other shooters released in recent years. Many modern shooters seem focused on realism, which can be beautiful, but also a bit lackluster. The popular color scheme that we typically see on shooters is also starting to mix up shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield. Or they all look a little too much like Fortnite, which, while colorful, is no longer visually distinct. I really appreciate these modern shooters despite everything. But with Marathon, things are different.

In fact, it’s more than colorful. It’s almost garish with all of its pinks, yellows, greens and blues clashing in almost every image. Yet everything is balanced by hyper-realistic lighting, materials, textures, and models. The color palettes are amazing to look at and a few of us at Kotaku couldn’t help but watch the trailer.

Marathon’s new art style is fresh and bold

Bungie calls Marathon’s art style “graphic realism,” as mentioned in a recent behind-the-scenes video about the rebooted shooter. Bungie developer Emily Katske expands on the game’s art further, saying it’s “bold, colorful [and] stylized.”

Game director Christopher Barret, in the same video, also says that the team wanted the art to be “beautiful” and “vibrant”, “mysterious” and “familiar”, “but also weird”.


Normally, I’d roll my eyes a bit at this kind of conversation, but after seeing the trailer and concept art for this new version of Marathon, yes, I get it. Balance is key, however. Bungie needs to carefully balance when and where to “compose [things] up to 11 inches and when to step back a bit so people don’t get overwhelmed trying to play.

It’s a risky option, taking a beloved franchise and reworking it into something bold. It’s also quite different from the original Marathon games, which featured more sober or grimy textures and Doom-like sprites. I’ve already spotted longtime Marathon fans upset with this more colorful and stylized new direction. And until we actually play the final game, we won’t know if any of this will actually work. Was it a big, costly mistake? Or a huge bet that lands perfectly? No idea!

But the trailer, concept art, and overall style of Marathon have me more excited than I thought to play this upcoming extraction shooter. I’m not even a fan of this kind of online FPS, but I want to see more Marathon so badly that I’ll give it a try. As long as I can waddle around Bungie’s amazing new world for a few minutes before I get killed, I’ll be happy to play and explore Marathon on every outing.


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