Id Software creative director Tim Willits told Polygon today that the upcoming arena shooter Quake Champions, which id and Bethesda have recently been showing off, will offer players both free-to-play and paid options. Willits said that "at its core, it's a free-to-play game," but added that there are plenty of people who know what Quake brings to the table and would rather just pay up-front and jump in.
Access to Ranger, the lead character of the original Quake and a prominent face in Quake 3: Arena, will be free for everyone. With him, you'll earn the in-game currency called "favor" that can be used to gain access to other Champions for as-yet-undetermined periods of time. You're renting them, basically, although Willits said he didn't want to use that specific word. "You do spend favor to have access to them for a limited amount of time, yes," he explained. "But you don't spend any real money on it."
Favor can also be spent on backpacks that enable rune challenges. Successfully completing a rune challenge will earn you "reliquaries," which contain new Champions and skins. Details aside, it sounds like a very conventional free-to-play arrangement.
If you'd rather just cut to the chase, you can spring for the Champions Pack, which will include full access to all the characters that the game launches with. That wording would seem to leave the door open to post-launch DLC characters above and beyond the ones included in the Champions Pack, but even if that turns out to be the case, the intent is to keep everyone—free and paid players alike—on equal footing.
Quake Champions is set to begin closed beta testing in the "coming weeks." You can sign up to take part at quake.bethesda.net, and get a look at the first Champion to be revealed, the stealthy assassin Nyx, below.