A public beta test for Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is in the process of kicking off, with the first day of key distribution "currently scheduled for the middle of this week" according to the official community blog.
60,000 public beta keys will be made available in total - with half reserved for subscribers to FilePlanet, the website hosting the file, and half for people with free FilePlanet accounts. However Developer Splash Damage urges caution: "If you want to just play a game for free you may find it a frustrating experience," it says. "This Public Beta is not the Demo - it's not the finished game, but an opportunity to get feedback from a large group of people while testing stability and performance on a wider range of hardware combinations."
One of the virtues of a public beta from the devs' perspective is the opportunity to find out how well it runs on various combinations of hardware, upon which note: "The Public Beta will also collect some information on your hardware configuration, so you shouldn't apply unless you're comfortable with that." They also just want to "get a better idea of how the game plays for the general gaming public", so give them some feedback if you get involved.
If you do, you'll find yourself running around a map called "Sewer", part of the game's Pacific Campaign. "Set in Japan, the map revolves around a Strogg base hidden in, well, a sewer. It's an interesting mix of outdoor and indoor, vehicle and infantry combat, deployables and counter-deployables and good old-fashioned FPS combat."
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is a class-based multiplayer first-person shooter that pits humans against Strogg - the enemies you faced in Quake II's single-player mode. We've taken a couple of looks at it - once at the beginning of last year and once in April of this one - and come away encouraged on both occasions. You can keep up with its progress and look out for details of where to get beta keys on the official blog.