Just because one of the biggest multiplayer games of the year is coming out today doesn't mean "Gears of War 3" is your only option for online madness in the coming weeks. Yes, it seems that EA is dead set on taking people away from Epic's chainsaw-heavy series with the long-awaited launch of the "Battlefield 3" beta. The publisher revealed the release dates and the contents of the beta today.
Seems that the "Battlefield 3" beta will include just one map, Operation Metro. The beta will launch on September 29 for PC, PS3 and 360, with access open to anyone with an Xbox Live Gold or PSN account. PC players will need to sign up for EA's digital distribution service, Origin, to experience the beta.
The mode featured in the beta is Rush, the mode popularized by the "Bad Company" series, which has one side playing offense, trying to capture several defensive positions as they continually push the defense back into their own base.
Operation Metro was actually the first playable "Battlefield 3" map, shown at this year's E3, so now everyone will get to experience what members of the press and dedicated, line-waiting fans did. Based on my brief playthrough, I found the map to be incredibly gorgeous, though it's a big disappointing that there's hardly any vehicle action to be found, save for an armored personnel carrier at the very beginning of the map.
Still, it will give players a sense of how the shooting mechanics have been tuned, as well as some of the changes to the classes, which have been blended for more functionality. Personally I'm most curious to see how the game runs on 360, given that EA hasn't shown that version publicly yet.
By the way, if you purchased the Limited Edition of "Medal of Honor" last year, you'll gain access to the beta a few days early. Watch for an email from EA with details.