Anthem is Electronic Arts' highly-anticipated new role-playing franchise, currently on track for a February 22, 2019 debut. While extensive previews have outlined what's to expect, we still have a lot to learn.

If you can't wait for launch, the promise of early access lies ahead for select gamers. Details on these gameplay sessions are now surfacing, with steps to prepare for their arrival. We've broken down what to expect from Anthem pre-launch demos, how to play, and their scheduled release dates.

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What to expect from the Anthem demo

The word "beta" is frequently used in video games as a blanket term for pre-release game access. These versions are from the later stages of development, though can simply be an early slice of the final product. While often valuable for network stress testing and last-minute refinements, they're mostly seen as a method of last-minute marketing.

EA is being transparent with its intentions for Anthem's tests, angling them as "pre-release demos." Unlike alpha or beta builds, these demos will be a slice of the final product. EA has announced two planned demos, from the limited "VIP Demo," followed by an "Open Demo" accessible to all. Player progression from both sessions won't transfer to the final release.

However, Anthem's demos still differ from the game set for February 22. As detailed by Mark Darrah, executive producer on Anthem, the demo will start players in the middle, cutting out its tutorials and character selection. Only one story arc will be present too, skewing the overall flow of the game.

Darrah has also indicated the demo build is six weeks old, with differing in-game balance and economies over the full game. Expect various bugs and "less nuanced" PC controls, assumedly corrected in the final launch.

Anthem demo release date and times

The Anthem VIP Demo is scheduled for three days, commencing in early 2019. Spanning Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Origin for PC, invited participants can play from January 25 to January 27, 2019.

The Anthem Open Demo follows one week later, also available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Origin for PC. This demo is available from February 1 to February 3, 2019.

For specifics on the Anthem demo start times, check our full schedule roundup.

Anthem Demo schedule: All times and dates

How to play Anthem VIP Demo

While Anthem's VIP Demo approaching fast, EA has discussed several ways players can gain access.

Anthem preorder VIP Demo access

To guarantee Anthem demo access, players are recommended to preorder of the game ahead of launch. Preordering any edition grants access to the VIP Demo on January 25.

The most common version of Anthem is the game's "Standard Edition," which provides access to the base game for $59.99. Physical disc-based copies for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC are stocked at GameStop. Alternatively, digital licenses are stocked at the Microsoft Store, PlayStation Store, and Origin PC store.

A premium-tier Legion of Dawn edition is priced at $79.99, which locks down in-game content aimed at franchise fans. Phsyical disc-based copies for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are stocked at GameStop. Alternatively, digital licenses are stocked at the Microsoft Store, PlayStation Store, and Origin PC store.

Anthem EA Access and Origin Access VIP Demo access

Electronic Arts is also expanding VIP access to subscribers of its in-house subscription services. On Xbox One, players will need to have an active EA Access subscription in late January, priced at $4.99 per month or $29.99 per year. On PC, you'll need an active Origin Access or Origin Access Premier subscription, which starts from $4.99 per month.

While those anticipating Anthem may see value in preorders, EA Access and Origin Access are ideal for those undecided. Alongside the VIP Demo, you'll gain access to free EA games, store discounts, and other service benefits. However, with Sony seemingly opposed to EA Access, PlayStation 4 owners will need to stick to preorders.

How to invite friends to Anthem demos

Although Electronic Arts is pushing preorders and paid services for the Anthem demo, this pairs with an invitation system for friends. Upon first launching the demo, players can access up to three redeemable licenses for sharing with friends. These are redeemable for any platform, accessible by logging into the refer-a-friend page.

How to redeem your Anthem VIP Demo code

If placing a preorder with third-party retailers like Amazon or GameStop, you'll be granted a single-use key to access to the demo. Received via email or printed on your receipt, this code must be redeemed via Electronic Arts for your true demo code. Upon redemption, the provided code will grant an Anthem demo download on your chosen platform.

For those with digital preorders on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or Origin for PC, access automatically ties to your account.

Step into your Javelin

As Anthem's release nears, we'll be sure to update this article with the latest details on its demo. In the meantime, the game is available for preorder starting at $59.99, ahead of its planned February 22, 2019, release for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PCs.

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Updated January 25, 2019: We've updated this guide with the latest details ahead of the VIP Demo.

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