Anthem's demo is nearly here, while the most recent trailer shares more story - here's everything you need to know

The Anthem alpha, or VIP demo, if you want to be all fancy, is coming on January 25. You'll have to be an EA/Origin Access subscriber if you want to sign up for the Anthem Demo and it barely lasts the weekend so you'll also have to be quick to try the Anthem game early. 

In terms of more info on the game itself, then last year's showing at the The Game Awards 2018 gave us a little more. Like, for example, our first real details on the main enemy the Freelancer heroes are fighting and maybe even an actual bad guy. The Anthem itself has even been shown off - the mysterious alien force with creative abilities underpins the entire game so it's obviously going to play a big part.

If you can't play the Anthem demo then the game will be out properly on February 22. And, by then, feedback from all the hands on time, and reviews of the full game, will let us know if Bioware have another winner on its hands. Until then, here's everything we have right now on Anthem.

Anthem game release date confirmed for February 22 2019

If the original Anthem release date had held we'd be playing it by now, or very soon at least. But that 'Fall 2018' date did not last long before it moved to a general 2019 and then, finally, February 22, 2019. However, you'll be able to play it before then...

The Anthem game beta is a pre-release demo starting February 1, 2019 

It's definitely not a beta, okay. It's a public pre-launch demo and it starts on February 1. So that's more or less three weeks early, ahead of the Anthem game release date of February 22. Currently the only way to get involved is via pre-order, or to be a member of Origin or EA Access. 

Does the Anthem game have a solo story or romance options? 

While Bioware is mostly known for things like Mass Effect and Dragon Age there are no romance options in the new Anthem game. If do have urges to do the in-game sexys you're going to have to make your own entertainment as there are no options here to help you. That's not really a massive shock given that this is a co-op game about collecting loot. Friendships are apparently possible at least with executive producer Mark Darrah saying it's "a great story for BioWare is about characters you can have a connection with, [and the] choices you make.”

That story involves ancient mythical gods and a source of incredible power called the Anthem. What that actually is is unclear but was used by the long absent gods (aliens?) to create the planet the game takes place on, but then left or disappeared before it was finished. Fast forward to the future and the Anthem's still active, creating, mutating and corrupting life and generally messing up the planet. Enter the mech piloting Freelancers who aim to save the day with cool robots and XP.

Whatever the story's about, the gameplay is focused on multiplayer hunts and raiding. Like Destiny this is all about running missions to earn XP and find new gear to progress your character. What single player there is involves a 'home' space where you'll be alone, interacting with characters for narrative elements in between all the grinding.

Does Bioware's Anthem game have loot boxes? 

In a word, no - there aren't any randomized loot boxes to infuriate the playerbase. But you will be able to spend real money via microtransactions on cosmetic items, like alternate Javelin suits for each class. You can see a different look for the Interceptor above, shown off in Nvidia's 4K gameplay trailer, that alters the helmet and armor design of the exosuit and comes complete with gold plating. It's important to note that all the paid-for items have no effect on gameplay, and can be earned via gameplay (though it'll likely take you much, much longer to unlock them).

Anthem game classes are all about customising your Javelin Exosuit

You choice of Javelin exosuit will define your Anthem game class. There are four types which, from left to right up there, are called the Ranger, Colossus, Storm and Interceptor. You can swap freely between any you might have, and a good team is all about balancing their abilities.  

Ranger - Described by Bioware as "the everyman's Javlin'. This is basically the default suit recommended for when you don't really know what you're going up against. It's got "a nice balance", according to game director Jon Warner: "it's got some agility, some good firepower, it's got an interesting melee strike. It's a good all-rounder."

Colossus - Unsurprisingly this is a tank option, with a heavy shield, instead of a dodge, that can absorb plenty of damage. It also has a legendary level mortar which makes it good at ranged damage, and there's a railgun as well. 

Storm - This is more or less the magic class with a focus on elemental attacks that apply status effects. So it's less about dealing damage and more about setting up support for the team with buffs and debuffs. It's light on armour  but does give you a shield when you're in the air. 

Interceptor -  This is still one suit we don't know that much about. It's fast and lightly armoured with "powerful blades and a full suite of devastating abilities" that apparently means it "excels at getting in close to inflict damage and weaken its enemies, then dashing away before they can react". We're getting a kind of assassiny/roguey vibe from that.

Anthem gameplay shows a world full of opportunity, loot and raids

Our main look at Anthem gameplay so far comes from the original E3 reveal. You can watch that above, but the main take away is that it's a co-op sci-fi shooter where up to four players take the role of 'Freelancers,' using highly upgradable and customisable Javelin exosuits to explore an alien world. Anthem gameplay looks to taking a lot of cues from Destiny, with its focus on defeating enemies and taking missions to find better gear to access better missions to get better gear... and so on. 

Anthem game news

Anthem game news

Aside from the more game related info revealed so far we've also had some other Anthem game news since its reveal. For example, long time BioWare writer Drew Karpyshyn left the studio. He had been a writer on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect before leaving BUT then rejoining to help shape the Anthem game's narrative. BUT... he then left again in March 2018: 

Karpyshyn leaving was a blow to many who credited for a lot of the narrative success  behind some of BioWare's biggest titles. 

Is the Anthem game another Destiny?

EA will never say it outright but it's not hard to see how the Anthem game borrows heavily from Destiny's raiding and looting. Especially after Meanwhile, EA's Patrick Soderlund described Anthem as "a game that we see, once we launch it next year, will be the start of, I think maybe a ten-year journey for us." That's highly reminiscent  Destiny's oft mentioned 'ten-year plan' when that game was originally launched.

Elsewhere the comparisons are there too see: Freelancers are to Anthem as Guardians are to Destiny - the highly capable heroes that venture into the unknown to blast hostile creatures and gather any precious loot or weaponry they might drop. Just as Destiny has The Tower, your main hub in Anthem is Fort Tarsus, a safe haven for humanity that sits high above a perilous jungle.

Fort Tarsus is protected by The Wall (now where have we heard that name before?), which separates everyday citizens from vicious animals and plotting marauders. It's here that you'll meet up with NPCs and rack up quests, like saving marooned workers hired by the pleading foreman Praxley seen in the Anthem gameplay trailer. Anthem's hub areas are effectively the reverse of Destiny, where you mill about town in first-person before embarking on third-person adventures. That close-up perspective should give you a better look at Fort Tarsus' high-tech bazaar - complete with a colossal quadrupedal robot lumbering overhead - and the highly detailed, uncanny-valley-triggering faces of its many human denizens.