Classic Marathon is coming to Steam well before the unclassic Marathon reboot

The player character points their magnum down a hallway in Classic Marathon.
(Image credit: Aleph One Developers)

While Marathon awaits its high-saturation extraction shooter reboot somewhere on the other side of Destiny 2's The Final Shape, anyone who's never played the 1994 Mac original will soon have another chance. Classic Marathon, a freeware fan revival for modern systems, is coming to Steam. Witness the roots of Bungie's infatuation with neurotic AI. Behold the mythical origins of the SPNKR. And yes, you can still use the chunky, off-center UI.

While it'll be a new arrival on Steam, this incarnation of Marathon—alongside the rest of the Marathon trilogy—has been playable on current-day rigs for years, thanks to the efforts of the Aleph One development team. A community-managed revival effort, Aleph One is an open source engine built for current systems based on the Marathon 2 source code, which Bungie made freely available prior to its Microsoft acquisition in 1999.

Classic Marathon's Steam release will allow you to play a near-authentic recreation of the original Marathon experience. But if you'd like to revisit the FPS classic while maintaining our current-day sensibilities, it'll include some optional modernizations like 60+ fps interpolation and widescreen HUD support. I'll forgive you if you don't tolerate the asymmetrical HUD situation as well as someone might've 30 years ago.

The player fires a grenade launcher at clustered Pfhor forces.

(Image credit: Aleph One Developers)

While it's purely a community project, Bungie has given their enthusiastic hands-off blessing. "Yup, this is real, and will be free," Bungie said when asked for comment. "We're very supportive of the Marathon community and Aleph One's dedication here to bring the original Marathon to PC, Linux, and Mac for everyone to experience, with cross-platform play available in multiplayer. This is a true tribute to the original game!"

Interestingly, while the Steam listing does include cross-platform multiplayer in its feature rundown, the Aleph One devs said in a thread on the Marathon subreddit that they're only promising Windows support for the Steam release. In other words, while the Steam release of Classic Marathon will only be available for Windows, you'll likely still be able to connect with Mac and Linux players who've otherwise installed Marathon from the Aleph One website.

We don't have a release date yet for when Classic Marathon will arrive on Steam, though same to assume it'll beat the Marathon reboot's expected 2025 release. If you're itching to fight some Pfhor today, however, all three Marathon trilogy games are playable and free to download on the Aleph One engine website. There's also a pile of Marathon lore-friendly, community-made scenarios, alongside something called "Mararthon: Yuge." Explore at your own peril, I guess. 

Lincoln Carpenter

Lincoln spent his formative years in World of Warcraft, and hopes to someday recover from the experience. Having earned a Creative Writing degree by convincing professors to accept his papers about Dwarf Fortress, he leverages that expertise in his most important work: judging a video game’s lore purely on the quality of its proper nouns. With writing at Waypoint and Fanbyte, Lincoln started freelancing for PC Gamer in Fall of 2021, and will take any excuse to insist that games are storytelling toolkits—whether we’re shaping those stories for ourselves, or sharing them with others. Or to gush about Monster Hunter.