When The Elder Scrolls Online launched on PC last year, fans were excited to take on Bethesda's fantasy world with friends. Sadly, many players were left feeling disappointed when quests didn't work properly and an overwhelming amount of gold spammers flooded the player base. Players were also unhappy that The Elder Scrolls Online's monthly subscription fee was so expensive – and they had to pay for this after buying a copy of the game itself.
In order to encourage more people to play the game, publisher Bethesda announced a new pricing system. The Elder Scrolls Online would now be renamed to The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited and it would be ditching the mandatory subscription fee. Instead, players would only have to pay for a copy of the game, although there would be an optional monthly subscription fee that provided extra bonuses.
Today, the Tamriel Unlimited update goes live but unfortunately Bethesda hasn't released a new pricing plan for the standalone game. However, the publisher has revealed that the monthly subscription system is now called Elder Scrolls Online Plus (ESO Plus) and it that it will cost $15 a month, which is exactly what it cost to subscribe to the game before. That $15 will provide "exclusive in-game bonuses", "access to all DLC packs while a member" and "a monthly allotment of crowns".
Those crowns are a premium in-game currency that can be spent at the TESO Crown Store. The Crown Store is a new way for the developer to monetize the game and it lets players purchase things such as health and magic potions, XP boosts and cosmetic items (e.g pets, mounts and costumes) with real money. It's a controversial decision and some have said that it make The Elder Scrolls Online pay-to-win but game director Matt Firor is adamant that nothing will change since these potions are "somewhat weaker and less effective than player-crafted potions".
In the Tamriel Unlimited launch trailer above, Bethesda details all of the updates that have gone live since TESO launched in May 2014. This includes the new facial animations, improved loot drops, the Craglorn adventure zone and the 'Justice System'. In the single player Elder Scrolls games, like Skyrim and Oblivion, players knew that murdering townspeople or stealing was a crime and if they were caught they could be arrested, but TESO didn't have this feature until last month.
With the Justice System, stolen goods have value but they can only be sold to fences. On top of this, if guards witness a crime they'll demand a bounty, and if the player can't pay it they will have to flee or the guards will attack. The Justice System also includes the option to carry out justice too with "active PVP", which could be a deterrent for would-be criminals or it could lead to abuses of power.
Will you be playing The Elder Scrolls Online now that it's buy-to-play? Do you think it should be completely free to play instead?
The Elder Scrolls Online is now available on PC and Mac. The game will be released on PS4 and Xbox One on June 9, 2015.