Sony is launching the first salvo in this holiday’s console wars with the Friday debut of its PlayStation 4.

The next-generation console is Sony’s first in seven years, since the PlayStation 3’s rocky, delay-plagued debut in 2006. It lands in stores just a week ahead of its main competition, the Xbox One.

The console has gone through a complete makeover — which also means that it won’t play older games — that gives it clean, slim lines. Sony has also taken pains to market the console as a true gamer’s console, a strategy that deviates from Microsoft’s efforts to show the Xbox One off as an all-in-one entertainment device.

Still, the company has redesigned the PlayStation 4’s software and even its controller to incorporate social features such as the ability to broadcast parts of their games. The new controllers have been reworked to have better movement, better balance and more responsive joysticks and triggers. They also feature a multi-touch touchpad — gamers will watch to see if and how developers incorporate this addition into their games.

And, of course, Sony has also overhauled the major specs of the console and dropped a better graphics processing unit, super-fast central processing unit and a custom processor chip into the console, all in the pursuit of making the on-screen games look as beautiful and smooth as possible.

According to early reviews of the console, Sony’s succeeded in meeting this goal, though the selection of games at launch leaves something to be desired.

“One of the reasons I'm not yet recommending you run out and get a PS4 is that, as cool as a lot of the system is, there's no game on it that you just have to play and can't play anywhere else,” wrote Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo in his first run at a PlayStation 4 review. (He says that it’s still ongoing, since he’s only had the device since Tuesday.)

Time’s Matt Peckham echoed that thought, saying that the system has room for improvement but seems like it will be successful. “You’re still buying a promise,  but for once it feels like a promise made on solid, well-trodden ground.”

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