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Classic ’90s Halo precursor FPS launches on Steam for free

The original 1994 Marathon game from Bungie has just launched on Steam for free, meaning you can catch up on some classic FPS history.

Classic '90s Halo precursor FPS launches on Steam for free: A screenshot of the enhanced version of Marathon.

There are some names in the FPS genre that have shaken the foundations of the gaming world. Half-Life, Halo, Doom, Quake, and a few more have become legends that still reverberate today. Halo in particular became a colossal cultural phenomenon but long before Master Chief set foot on a space circle, its developer Bungie made a fascinating shooter called Marathon, and it has just launched on Steam for free.

Announced on X, formerly Twitter, Bungie’s classic FPS game is now free to download and play through Steam. Classic Marathon, as it’s being called now, is a must-play for any Halo fan, as well as any fan of experiencing the history of shooters.

Released back in 1994 it puts you in the jackboots of a security officer aboard the spaceship UESC Marathon, tasked with defending against an wave of alien boarders. Similar to Doom in gameplay but considerably more cerebral, Marathon didn’t just set out the next steps for FPS games, but in tandem with titles like System Shock it laid out the path for what would become the immersive sim genre.

Marathon introduced us to many ideas which still bounce around in gaming today, especially thanks to the Halo series. As you explore the titular spaceship you find yourself in conversation with the ship’s AI, Durandal. Throughout the game Durandal becomes slowly corrupted, fully going rampant by the end, a plot detail Halo fans have become very familiar with.

This version of Marathon has been made possible by the creators of the Aleph One open source engine which has kept the game alive, and playable, throughout the long years. As a result, this version has a few tweaks and changes included that should make it much more palatable to anyone picking it up today. With Bungie working on a reimagining of the original title and with the following two games incoming on Steam, it’s great to see this slice of FPS history resurrected in 2024.

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You can head over to the Steam page to download and play Classic Marathon for free right now. If you’d like to keep up to date with what’s happening with the reimagining, our Marathon release date guide should get you all the knowledge you need. Why not check out our guide to the best classic games you can still play if you still need to scratch that retro itch.

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