THQ's Online Pass is a single-use code that is included for free in all new copies of games sporting the "feature." Users who do not have access to a free code--whether it be from rental or purchasing the game second-hand--can purchase an online pass for $10. EA has executed a similar program to sway gamers to purchase new copies of its titles.
According to THQ--via Shacknews parent company GameFly--users who do not have an online pass will still be able to play Homefront's online component; however, the experience is limited. Users will have access to all multiplayer maps but can only progress to a maximum level of 5 out of the full experience's 75 levels.
Users can continue to play the game online without an online pass for as long as they choose but will not be able to progress past the capped level. The single-player portion of Homefront is unaffected by online pass status.
Shacknews has sent a note to THQ to find out how the level progression in Homefront functions, and whether the game unlocks items and modes over the course of the level progression (as seen in recent Call of Duty games, for example) or if it completely open. We have yet to hear back at the time of publishing.
Homefront is in development for the Xbox 360 and PS3 from developer Kaos Studios. A PC version is also in the works from Digital Extremes. Homefront is scheduled to release in early March.