It has been somewhat relentless bad news out of Bungie lately with layoffs, revenue misses and what appear to be pending delays of both Destiny 2’s next expansion and Marathon.
Marathon will be Bungie’s first non-Destiny project in a decade, a return to a classic IP but totally transforming it into a team-based extraction shooter with a wild aesthetic that’s been shown off in an initial trailer before the team “went dark” to get it out. But now that may not be until 2025.
There’s a lot of pressure on Marathon. It will be one of Sony’s highest profile live service offerings now that they own Bungie (even though it will be multiplatform like Destiny) and if Destiny 2 does continue to decline, it will need to be a big revenue generator. There are early reports that testers had many questions about the kinds of things the game would monetize, but that was in early drafts of the game, so we don’t know what the end result will be.
However I…believe in Marathon. Yes, I’m nebulous on the fate of Destiny 2 right now given everything going on, but I believe that if any company has the potential to make a big splash in a crowded multiplayer scene, it’s Bungie. There are many reasons for this, like obviously both Halo and Destiny have been massively successful. There’s the fact that this will be the biggest extraction shooter on the market by far at baseline, carving out a relatively new space.
But I think there’s another reason: Gambit.
Gambit, to me, remains one of the most fascinating things Destiny 2 has done. It was added to the game in Forsaken back in 2018, right at the absolute peak of the battle royale craze, and when Bungie promised a new mode, there was some idea it would be a kind of smaller scale elimination-type PvP mode to echo those games. Or at best, maybe a riff on something like The Division’s Dark Zone, if they were doing PvPvE.
Instead, Bungie made a mode that was really unlike anything we’ve seen before in a shooter. The mirrored maps, the mote collection and sending enemies to the other side. The primeval boss burn race. The single invader who could turn the tide of a game. A blend of PvP and PvE skill, and arguably one of the most creative additions to the game even to this point. (It certainly also helped that the man running it, The Drifter, would go on to become one of Destiny’s best characters).
Gambit itself has been a rollercoaster, loads of changes and overhauls and very bad eras and now, today, what I would consider a very good era, even if it has not received any real love and care for years and years now. I still think it’s an incredibly solid mode that simply is not paid enough attention.
But the overall point is Bungie’s ability to do the unexpected. Gambit went against the grain of everything happening in the shooter space, and we know Marathon has a lot of those same developers working on it like Lars Bakken. I’ve already heard that Marathon will not be just a straight extraction shooter but will have…more, a nebulous term that indicates that some sort of Bungie magic will be sprinkled over it, and it may not be exactly what people think it is.
We’ve already heard some of this publicly, like Marathon game director Chris Barrett talking about widespread community events, like a team finding a wholly unique relic that has the potential to unlock an entirely new part of the map for everyone else. This is Destiny DNA being infused here, to be sure.
Gambit was an instance that showed Bungie can still invent new, cool things in a market that sometimes feels like every last drop has been squeezed out of it. I believe that in the end, whenever it arrives, they’ll be able to do the same with Marathon. I hope I’m right.
Follow me on Twitter, Threads, YouTube, and Instagram.
Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.