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Is the boxed version of Battlefield 3 free from other clients, "services", and DRM? For instance, the intrusive "always online" DRM, "3-install" limits, Origin, and so on.

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No. Origin is required for any PC copy (boxed and digital) of Battlefield 3.

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    Hallowed are the Ori
    – Nick T
    Nov 10, 2011 at 0:17
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Origin is required to play at all times (you can use the offline mode though).

You must also pass a one time release date check the first time you use Battlefield 3, which requires the internet. After that you're free to play offline (but still through Origin).

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