IGN, Tribes: Ascend will adopt a free-to-play model when it launches later this year. Developer Hi-Rez Studios plans to emulate the payment model used in League of Legends; rather than regularly offering new champions, Tribes: Ascend will offer new equipment and weapon loadouts. IGN reports that different loadouts cater to different specialties like stealth and assault.
We asked Hi-Rez about its plans for the Xbox Live Arcade version of Tribes: Ascend, especially considering there has yet to be a free-to-play title on the service. Hi-Rez's Todd Harris informed Joystiq that the studio is currently "focused on delivering Tribes: Ascend for PC only." Furthermore, it seems as though initial plans may have changed, as Harris didn't even confirm that an XBLA version is officially in the works, stating, "An eventual XBLA version, and even PSN version, is not out of the question but neither will be this year."
Interestingly, this marks the second free-to-play game related to the Tribes series planned for 2011. Red 5 Studios' FireFall, led by original Tribes designer Scott Youngblood, is also launching this year. In contrast to Tribes: Ascend, FireFall's free-to-play items center around aesthetic items rather than items that affect gameplay.
Find a new Tribes: Ascend gameplay trailer after the break.