Safe to say that Blizzard’s recent nerfs and buffs to Bastion have been among the most controversial changes applied to Overwatch thus far.
He received some pretty significant tweaks and nerfs leading into the game’s launch, and while he was still a fairly effective hero in both attack and defense, he wasn’t used nearly as much as he was during pre-release matches.
This was due in part to his damage output being reduced, and his transform time from Recon to Sentry mode being reduced to a crawl.
While he still stood as a viable first-time option for Overwatch newcomers, other more mobile and effective heroes — such as Symmetra and Torbjorn — became the norm on defense.
As it stood almost a year after launch, Bastion remained essentially untouched until the last update.
Bastion’s Recon mode was buffed, while his Sentry mode was nerfed. He was given the ability to self-heal both while moving and while taking damage, and this was primarily the cause of much angst from the community.
Essentially, Bastion is able to survive most hero ultimates by simply self-healing during the attack. Previously he couldn’t heal while taking damage. Overnight he became one of the more mobile, versatile and tough characters to play against.
Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan has responded to the furore, saying it’s to be expected that some fans are hostile to the changes.
“We know Bastion is a big focus for everyone right now,” he said. “I’ve been playing online games since they existed and now working on them for almost 15 years. One of the things I’ve learned about online communities is that change — any change — can cause a lot of anxiety. Back when I was working on World of Warcraft, I used to say that if we mailed 500 gold to every player, the community would find some way to be upset about it … because change is bad.”
With that said, Kaplan said changes have been made to Bastion — again — and that they’ve been applied to the most recent PTR update, which also features new character Orisa.
Interestingly, he believes a lot of the criticism aimed at Bastion is “blown out of proportion”.
“Bastion isn’t the ‘I Win button’,” Kaplan said. “He can be focused and countered. When a team is coordinated, he is far scarier than when a team is just playing a pick-up/deathmatch style of play — and I’ve witnessed both over the past few nights. I think complaints and praise of Bastion are both valid. I don’t think he’s perfect yet. But I do think there is a high amount of hyperbole around this particular situation.
Patch 1.9 for the Overwatch PTR changes how Bastion receives damage: previously, he took 35% less damage while in Sentry or Tank form. He now takes 20% less damage.