Pirates of the Burning Sea servers don't officially go live until January 22nd, players who pre-ordered the game have had access to game servers since 1PM EST today. Players participating in the "preboarding" program will be able to play up to level 21 and keep their characters after the game's official launch. And for those of you who haven't pre-ordered, there's still time to pick up a pre-order box and play before launch! If you head to your local Best Buy or GameStop you should be able to pick up a pre-order box (not just a pre-order -- there's a physical box that will have your preboarding code) or order online from Amazon, GoGamer, Direct2Drive (download only), or the Station Store (download only). (Your safest bet here may be the Station Store, as they'll apply your preboarding code directly to your Station account, while Best Buy is reporting backorders and we've heard reports of problems getting the code via e-mail from Amazon.) For full details on the preboarding program, check out the official preboarding FAQ.
If two weeks of early gameplay isn't enough to tempt you, pre-orders also receive special swag: in-game swords for each fighting style, an in-game parrot pet, and (if you pick up a physical pre-order box, not just a download ) a CD filled with 60 minutes of delightful pirate-y music.