Starting today, The Elder Scrolls Online is officially free-to-play, re-branding itself The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, and including all of the game’s previous updates and content additions for new players.
The change from a monthly subscription-based model shocked many gamers when it was first announced in January this year, but it seems a well thought-out move. If you’re already a fan of the game and don’t mind forking over a monthly fee, there’s still an option for you: ESO Plus, which is described as an “optional premium membership”. This gives you access to the premium DLC that is not included in the free-to-play version (at least, you can access it while your subscription is valid), as well as an allowance of in-game currency, and a 10% bonus to crafting research, crafting inspiration gain, gold acquisition and experience point gain. Not quite pay-to-win, but there are definite benefits to financially supporting the game.
If you’re still holding out for The Elder Scrolls Online on console, rest assured it’ll be free-to-play there as well, when it finally launches on June 9th. After paying for the initial copy of the game, it’s yours to play as long as you like. (If you want it on Xbox One, you will need an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play online – you do not need PlayStation Plus for the PS4 version.)
There is, of course, a handy Tamriel Unlimited FAQ that Bethesda has prepared for you – covering the fact that your account will automatically transition to the new content, acknowledging returning gamers (even if you’ve let your subscription lapse, you can just log in and play now), and covering all the details of ESO Plus membership.