I think it's leaning towards the former.
There have been two very interesting problems that are new to me when dealing with the press on this game (and it would be cool if any journalists reading this chimed in as I suspect they're seeing it too):
First: While staff writers tend to have pretty good hardware, the freelancers that game sites are now almost exclusively using, tend to have almost ludicrously outdated hardware. Ashes has been out a week now, we gave review copies out weeks ago. Where are the reviews? No conspiracy: Finding game reviewers who have a 2GB or more video card.
Second: The "help" NVIDIA and AMD are giving the game by updating their drivers to "optimize" it (or more specifically, the benchmark results). We had one reviewer who couldn't even get the game to boot because of process injection from one of the 3 apps that the latest video driver installed. I fear that's going to affect our reviews (someone gets frustrated trying to get your game to work, you're going to pay for it).
So the tech side is definitely creating some heart burn for us.
The other thing that has come up during this RTS's release has been the shift in game reviews away from RTS game-play to story. That's not meant as a criticism, it is what it is. For instance, Homeworld: DOK has a fantastic story-driven campaign at the cost of single player skirmish maps and limited multiplayer and uses a classic 3rd-generation engine. Ashes has a campaign too but it's relatively bare bones in comparison. On the other hand, it has dozens of maps, an active MP community, very strong AI (for skirmishes), built in scripting for modders, a built in map editor, etc.. So far, DOK has beaten Ashes at every single game review. I don't think even one reviewer has even brought up modding, the map editor (a non-trivial thing for an RTS).
Which means that the press (and arguably the player base) may now value character and story over AI and long-term replayability. And they may be right to do that.
In an age where games have become increasingly disposable (how many games do you have in your backlog right now?) the game that provides a solid, if relatively brief, piece of digital entertainment may be what PC gamers prefer now over leveraging tech to take "old school" RTS design and enhance the things that made them good (controlling armies, building an economy, etc.) while mitigating the things that were weak (weak AI, pathfinding woes, simplistic units, gamey physics).