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Battlefield 3 beta begins today

Keys to be sent from lunchtime.

The hotly anticipated Battlefield 3 beta begins today for those who pre-ordered the PC game through Origin, and Medal of Honor Limited Edition owners.

EA will send out keys from lunchtime today to those who fall under those categories.

When will you receive your email with your key? Don't bother asking, developer DICE said - the system is run by a computer, not by human beings.

"Please don't ask about 'when do I get my email' etc," gameplay designer Gustav Halling pleaded.

"We don't know, this is an automated system that sends a bunch out every hour starting around lunch today."

Keys will be sent "around 1pm-3pm CET on PC and Xbox 360" Battlefield community manager Daniel Matros said. That's 12pm-2pm in the UK.

DICE is "awaiting further messaging on PS3".

You do not need the Medal of Honor disc to play the Battlefield 3 beta, but you will need to have entered the online code for Medal of Honor on your account. Haven't done that? Best get cracking.

For everyone else, the Battlefield 3 beta goes live on Thursday, 29th September.

The featured game mode is Rush, and the featured map is Operation Metro.

The open beta ends on 10th October.

On PlayStation 3, the beta will appear automatically on the PlayStation Network Store. On Xbox 360, it will automatically appear on Xbox Live Marketplace. On PC, it will automatically appear in the Origin application's demo page.

On console, you simply download the beta and play. On PC, you first need to install the Origin client and then install the beta from within the Origin client. Origin is not required to play on PS3 or Xbox 360, DICE said. But for PC, Origin will be used to distribute the beta installation and run the game and therefore is necessary to play.

You won't be able to carry forward your stats from the beta into the final version of the game. "We are still fine tuning the ranking system and we don't want to give beta players an unfair advantage when Battlefield 3 launches," DICE explained. You will keep your soldier name, though.