Ask any one of us here at Dealspwn how we feel about game delays and we'll generally tell you the same thing as Shigeru Miyamoto: we'd much rather wait a little longer for something good than wind up with a rushed pile of bantha fodder. But to play Devil's Advocate for a moment is to view the announcement that The Order: 1886 has been delayed back into "early 2015" as something of a blow for Sony.
Let's reiterate that first bit, though. As galling as it can be for us as gamers to have nice things dangled in front of us before being told that we have to wait a little bit longer, we'd much rather developers are given the time that they need. The Order has been flying the flag for the future of the PS4 for some time now, promising cinematic detail so sharp and detailed that we'll have to pick up our jaws from the floor. Victoriana is seriously in vogue right now, and everyone loves to see a bit of steampunk, even if the definition of that term is becoming more vague and clouded year by year. Put simply, The Order can't really afford to be bad -- it's important that they get it right -- and if delaying the game makes for a better chance to get it right, then that's probably the right thing to do.
So, just to reiterate, rushing games is bad. We never want that.
But as a PS4 owner, it's hard to not feel a little dismayed. As we've seen with the likes of Watch Dogs and Driveclub and Bioshock Infinite, delays and setbacks, however well intentioned, can seriously derail the hype train of the game in question. This industry, perhaps more than most, thrives on snowballing anticipation. Getting the word out and keeping it trending is an important part if the publishing side of things. If your momentum is suddenly halted, people lose interest, pre-orders dry up and, potentially worst of all, those who we're planning to buy your game opt for something else.
To be honest, that's not really a problem that The Order has, being one of the few flagship exclusives for the PS4 that have been announced and are yet to release. Interest will remain high for the game in spite of this delay, but it heaps more pressure on Sony's E3 showing to deliver something tangible, something to get excited for, when it comes to the second half of 2014.
In our recent six month showdown, where we pitted the Xbox One against the PS4 once again to see how the consoles had fared half a year since release, the Xbox had a clear advantage when it came to console exclusives. Sony's first-party partners are yet to really show up, Guerilla and Sucker Punch aside. That a good chunk of Microsoft's exclusives have been short term third-party partnerships is unsurprising. Microsoft have always been adept with the short-term contract, even if we rather wish they'd sometimes go the extra mile and cultivate a larger stable for themselves.
Sony did the work last year with an impressively simple mission statement, an approachable, friendly attitude that focused on consumers and creators alike, and a console geared toward third-party accessibility, extra grunt under the hood, and a basic RRP that undercut the competition. It worked, but one thing has been sort of forgotten in the interim -- where are the games? As much as third-parties can continue to polish an extra pixel or two on PS4 versions over XO ones, it's the truly next-gen exclusives that'll set the tone for the next year or two.
Having had a stronger launch in terms of software, it feels as though Microsoft lead the line going into June, even if Sony are still out in front when it comes to sales. But the hushed whispers of a Halo bundle dropping this winter are building. Even if it's not yet Halo 5, having a such a big name on the other side of the fence is something that cannot go unchallenged. We fully expect Sony to pull out the big guns at E3 this year, but it's no good doing that for 2015/2016. PS Plus is scraping the barrel on PS4, and that next-gen barrel wasn't exactly huge to begin with. Sony must deliver something for this year, for this winter. The wave we've ridden since launch has crested, and now is the time for the hard work to begin once more.
And what of The Order: 1886 itself, as a game? It looks the part, certainly, but what little gameplay has been seen has been sparse and fairly derivative by the looks of things. As Killzone: Shadow Fall demonstrated, and as we've stated time and time again, looks will only get you so far. For all of the talk about a super-cinematic, super-widescreen resolution, precious little has been seen of the game itself, and the demonstrations that have surfaced haven't exactly distinguished the game beyond its peers and predecessors.
But that's presumably what more time is needed for...
"The project is always bigger than what everybody expects," Ready at Dawn chief Ru Weerasuriya told Eurogamer. "That's what this is. It is bigger than what everybody expected. Everything we've shot, everything we've done, is quite a bit larger than what we had planned for. But we're not going to sacrifice just because of time. Quality has to come first.
"That's what I commend Sony for, for so many games they've done. They always say, 'PlayStation stands for what it has done for so long because we will always take the side of quality when it comes down to it.' That is one of the strengths Sony has had for so many years."
It's hard to argue with that, but no Order this year means that there's a gap in the release schedule at a crucial time of year that Sony will desperately need to plug. We know Uncharted is on the horizon, but that's presumed for next year at the earliest. What else have you got for us Sony? Let's hope it's a stellar E3 focussed on the net six months.