The open beta has been out for the past couple of days.http://www.battlefield.com/battlefield3/1/beta
The game is still a first-person shooter in a modern day military setting so no surprises there. There are a bunch of unlocks spread out over your character rank, class/kit level, and individual primary weapons. A bit of an overkill. The one that annoys me the most are some class-defining gadgets (e.g. the assault class's defibrillator) that take 7000 points are so to unlock. In a given round, I might get 600-800 points towards leveling up one kit's level. This annoyance was in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and I'm disappointed to see it repeated here.
The damage has been increased from Bad Company 2. You can down an enemy in 4-6 shots as opposed to Bad Company's 7-9. The increased damage combined with the prone position means you might be spending a lot of time staring at kill cams of people lying on their bellies. The destruction is more subtle in the beta map of Metro. You won't be able to bring buildings down, but you can blow up some walls and cover. Sadly, there are no vehicles in the official Metro map of the beta which is terrible mistake in showing what makes Battlefield different.
On the PC side, I was wrong in thinking Origin won't be needed to launch the game. Whether you join a server from the website or launch the game executable, EA's Origin needs to be on. Speaking of the website, Battlelog is the only way you will be able to launch the game (on the PC). The beta installs a browser plug-in that manages live updates, a friend list, and voice chat while on the Battlelog site. On the main page of Battlelog, you can press a button to quickly find a server to join, go to the server browser, or muck around in EA's Facebook for Battlefield 3. Unfortunately, there is no way to configure options and key bindings other than to spawn on the map. Joining a server has worked quite nicely so far and has been faster and easier to do compared to Bad Company 2's in-game server browser. Other players have been having problems and are rightfully complaining. Lastly, I can't shake the feeling that I'm playing some free-to-play Korean online game when I launch a game from Chrome.
Performance wise, I've been running the game at a steady clip with some dips on my system with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300, AMD Radeon 4870 with 512 MB VRAM, and 4 GB of DDR2 RAM. I've read that the video settings are locked to normal so I haven't seen what the game scales up and down to. Sound effects have been very good with all sorts of snaps, hisses, and bangs.