I was fortunate enough to meet Brad when I was his first guest on the podcast earlier this year. It is not often that I meet new people that I form such instant connections with. Brad is friendly, passionate and articulate and I really enjoy every chance I have to pick his brain. That is of course how I felt before June the 7th when he posted slanderous allegations of Bastion being too OP for the Overwatch crowd.
Brad does make some good points but I ultimately feel his assessment of the situation to be flawed. Firstly if you’ve played enough hours online you’ve probably said, or heard someone else say, “damn hero X is overpowered”. On a good day each one of the heroes from the pool feel like they contribute a lot to the team and someone else perceives that as being overpowered. Particularly if it strong counters your pick.
Sure there are heroes that need tweaking, many complain Mcree is too strong (and Blizzard agrees), during the beta Mei was hard to handle and now there are concerns that Widowmaker might need a tweak as well. Let me address the elephant in the room first. None of those heroes are Bastion; I would rest my case but I think we need to discuss why people perceive him as OP.
I’ve been thinking about this problem for a while now because I do find it hard to pinpoint the exact cause of this thought process. I have handily beaten Bations’ often, and on occasion been beaten while playing him. Additionally it is extremely rare to see Bastion picked as an attacking hero, maybe on the odd Payload map still. Surely an OP hero can be leveraged from an attackers’ standpoint as well?
But this is where the issue lies, and to be honest it is mostly around time. Overwatch is young, we are already seeing an evolving meta and there are parts of the game we, as a community, are still working out. Ilios is a fantastic map example where we already see a meta involving high mobility heroes and heroes that offer the ability to knock enemies off the terrain. As a result Lucio and Roadhog make regular appearances, as does Pharah.
Bastion feels strong on certain maps, the first point on Hollywood and the envtirety of Volskaya Industries feel his strongest (I for one got my 4 kills in a single use of an ultimate for Bastion on Volskaya). His ability to abuse long site lines is definitely a problem, additionally there is no onus at all on the defending team to make a concerted effort to hunt down kills. Overwatch is extremely dependant on momentum, teams that group up and use ultimates well swing battles and thus points in their favour. The problem with this though is that many of the maps in the map pool are designed to favour the defenders rather than the aggressors. Too many maps contain a single choke point to get into a given point. Hollywood has this point (twice if you consider the last one), Volksaya has this on the first point, Numbani forces an entire team into the road for a period before fanning back out. Hanamura does this as well. Bastion only needs to trade kills, every time a team mate of his dies if he gets one in return, he can effectively stop a momentum based push by keeping the numbers even or in the defenders favour. A problem sure; but hardly over powered.
So we haven’t had time to get used to Bastion yet. That makes sense but why does he keep getting so much negative talk? Compared to other heroes that get discussed about being strong, like perhaps Genji, Bastion has an extremely low skill cap. We see this issue all the time in competitive multiplayer games. Heroes like Tinker in DotA2 are near unstoppable in the right hands, but the skill cap is so high on these heroes that the sort of soul crushing domination that a good Tinker can provide is few and far between. Good Bastions’ do not really have to do much, other than exploit a good position on the map. Torbjorn does the same and he doesn’t even have to put his life in danger, yet people hate him far less.
Anecdotally it feels like I am seeing less Bastions’ as other heroes are being picked more frequently. Junkrat is an extremely under-rated hero, not only as a Bastion counter but to stop flankers and pushers that want to get behind your team and cause panic. Good Widowmakers also cause troubles for a Bastion as does Hanzo. Players are getting more familiar with maps finding good lines to abuse Bastions’ lack of mobility. I personally think Bastion shines when teams have individuals respawn, run into a point by themselves to their death, respawn then rinse and repeat. All it takes is to wait 5 seconds for allies to strongly increase your chances at taking a point. Against anyone.
In closing, to all the dirty Bastion pickers out there (like me), your time is limited. People are working out where you will be hiding and how to deal with your nonsense. Using Mei to abuse the topography of a map for example will be something I expect to see a lot more in the future. Teams are learning to use the group-up emote and work together for a common goal. I don’t think any of these are directly because of Bastion either they just took time to work out. It just so happens that the hero that abused this lack of knowledge and skill the most is the first to suffer because of his lack of mobility. Where I ultimately think people see Bastion as being OP the most simply comes down to a low skill ceiling for a fairly high impact hero on a disorganised team. There is a lot of confirmation bias being observed on the part of the player. We see a lot of “Oh another Bastion PotG” but ignore that 5 maps we played in-between where 4 other heroes got the same honour.