Wow, Bungie’s Marathon is the coolest shooter in years

I rarely watch a video game trailer more than once. Yet with Bungie’s marathon reboot/sequel/whatever, I repeated the snazzy and stylish announcement trailer. That’s not just because of the great trailer, but also because Bungie teases that it’s one of the coolest shooters in years.

On March 24th, just before a Spider-Man 2 trailer kicked off a whole new “Puddle Gate,” Bungie (Halo, Destiny) revealed its next big first-person shooter: Marathon. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because Bungie is actually returning to one of its oldest franchises, the all-Mac shooter trilogy Marathon. You can read more about these ancient games, their beloved history, and how they relate to Halo and modern extraction shooters in this article written by our very own Claire Jackson.

However, I’m not here to discuss Marathon’s lore, history, fandom, or anything related to the Bungie Mythos. No, instead I just want to gush a few paragraphs about how bloody refreshing and awesome the look and announcement trailer of this game is compared to most other shooters and games out there today. And I don’t seem to be the only one who loves this trailer as it has already reached 18 million views on YouTube.


Marathon has one of the best game trailers of 2023

From the moment the trailer’s intense electronic music kicked in at the beginning, I was engaged. Then we see someone in a cool-looking sci-fi outfit running through a tunnel while brightly colored shots of robotic bugs create intricate android-like beings. What’s happening? I don’t know but did you just hear that sick part in the music?

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Anyway, the running character breaks out of the darker tunnels and enters an incredibly bright world where we see him rocking bright colors too, including a bright neon pink helmet. The music builds up as the camera zooms in closer and closer to the runner. It feels tense as the music turns into a digital mess and then BAM! That’s all she wrote for this runner as he’s being shot at from afar by a slick and papery android. Our now-dead runner is seen in slow motion collapsing into what appears to be a milky substance, his blue-inky blood mixing and swirling into the water around his corpse. As the robotic sniper rips something out of the dead runner, the music ramps up again, interference occurs, and BAM! Bungie reveals this vibrant trailer was meant for a new marathon.

“Alive” is really the keyword here. Everything in this trailer bangs in a way I haven’t seen in most other shooters in recent years. A lot of modern shooters seem to focus on realism, which can look pretty but also a bit drab. The popular color scheme that we usually see in shooters also causes shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield to merge together. Or they all look a little too much like Fortnite, which is colorful but doesn’t stand out visually anymore. I still like a lot of these modern shooters. But at Marathon it’s different.

Actually, it’s more than colourful. It’s almost garish as all the pink, yellow, green and blue tones collide in almost every image. Still, everything is balanced with hyper-realistic lighting, materials, textures, and models. The color palettes are incredible to look at and some of us at Kotaku couldn’t stop staring at the trailer.

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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 of the rebooted shooter. Bungie developer Emily Katske elaborates further on the game’s art, saying it’s “bold and colorful.” [and] stylized.”

The game’s director, Christopher Barret, also says in the same video that the team wanted the art to be “beautiful” and “vivid,” “mysterious” and “familiar,” “but also weird.”


Normally I would roll my eyes a little at such conversations, but after seeing the trailer and concept art of this new version of Marathon, I get it. However, balance is key. Bungie must carefully consider when and where to “choose.” [things] up to 11 inches and when to pull back a bit so people aren’t overwhelmed while playing.

Taking a popular franchise and making something bold out of it is a risky option. It’s also a marked departure from the original Marathon games, which featured more muted or dirtier textures and Doom-esque sprites. I’ve already seen some longtime Marathon fans upset with this new, more colorful and stylized direction. And until we actually play the final game, we won’t know if any of it will actually work. Was that a big, expensive mistake? Or a giant gamble that lands perfectly? No idea!

But Marathon’s trailer, concept art, and overall style got me more excited than I expected playing this upcoming extraction shooter. I’m not even a fan of this online FPS genre but I’m dying to see more of Marathon I’ll try. As long as I can waddle around Bungie’s new amazing looking world for a few minutes before getting killed, I’ll be happy to play Marathon and explore whenever it comes out.

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