As you may already know, after many months of mounting excitement in the media, the PlayStation 4 is finally here. It’s hard to keep track of all the stories, features, games, and reviews.

Here’s what you need to know about the newest-generation console from Sony.

How Much Does It Cost? 

$399.99 standard (one system + one controller), or between $460 and $520 if you buy a bundle (one system + one or two controllers + one or two games).

What Games Does it Play?

Right now, you can buy several new installments for existing popular game franchises such as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, FIFA 14, Just Dance 2014, and Lego Marvel Universe, as well as brand new titles such as the family-friendly Knack. Click here to see a complete list of PS4 launch titles.

PlayStation 4 games

What’s New?

The PS4 is definitely designed to be a flexible system, so what we see now is only the beginning. This console has improved graphics (of course), as well as enormous processing power. Though the initial games don’t seem to have taken full advantage of this yet, there are undoubtedly many visually stunning games just over the horizon.

Sony has introduced a new camera, facial recognition software, and—for the first time—voice commands, giving the PS4 a Kinect-like potential (though as of now Sony is not quite up to par with Microsoft). The online services offered by PS4 are also much expanded from the PS3, with more options for online interaction and game downloads, plus a strong emphasis on social media.

The new PS4 controller is much nicer than the PS3’s (though with a shorter battery life). And each system comes with a simple headphone/microphone that you can plug directly into your controller for easy online chatting. Additionally, if you have a PS Vita, the two consoles mesh perfectly, creating the intriguing potential for dual-screen games.

What Else Can It Do?

With the PS4, users can connect to Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, and Redbox Instant Streaming without paying extra on top of their existing subscriptions. Plus, the newly revamped Video Unlimited service allows you to download movies before they go to DVD and to download TV shows the day after they air. The Music Unlimited service lets you build personalized playlists and listen to them while you’re gaming. But heads up: Video Unlimited is not a part of the UltraViolet licensing system, so you won’t be able to use your purchased media on any platform you like. Video Unlimited is now available on PS3, PS Vita, BRAVIA TV, or Xperia Smartphone, but not on Apple, Windows, or Google products.

The PS4 can also double as a Blu-ray player, but it will not, unfortunately, allow you to upload music from your own CDs (a nice feature from the PS3). Like everything on the PS4, though, this may change in future system updates.

Playstation 4 update classic playstation 2 games

Why Upgrade?

It has been seven years since the PS3 was released, and a lot has been happening with technology in that time. Amazing games are still being made for PS3 (for now), so it can be hard to picture exactly how much will improve with a new system. But platforms are an integral part of game design, and the changes Sony makes now will affect new video games for years to come. As Polygon put it, “The processing power of next-gen machines allows developers to build their games differently from a design angle, which could potentially lead to new kinds of games and new kinds of gameplay.”

There’s nothing wrong with waiting a while before investing your money into a new system, especially if you’re not a fan of lining up at midnight to get your new console, but rest assured that you will be seeing some very cool new games because of this system, whether or not you play a PS4.

How do I get one?

Didn’t preorder? Hope is not lost, though it will be a bit of a battle to get the console before Christmas (if that’s your aim). Retailers have been opening and closing online orders for months, with varied availability. You can check sites like NowinStock or ZooAlert periodically to keep track. And of course, some PS4s will be kept on reserve for that time-honored American tradition, Black Friday. But you’d better get in line early.

If you still don’t manage to get your very own PS4, don’t worry too much. Because the PS4 is designed with so much forward flexibility in mind, there is no shame in waiting a few months before buying your console. The longer you wait, the better the PS4 will become.

Want more info on the PS4? Check out the official PlayStation Blog.

Did you wait in line for your PlayStation? Tell us about it in the comments.

This article was written by

Courtney is Pixelkin's Associate Managing Editor. While working with the Girl Scouts of Northern California, she mentored young girls in teamwork, leadership, personal responsibility, and safety. Today, she spends her time studying adolescent development and using literary analysis techniques to examine video games.