Editorial: In Defense of Bastion

I look at Bastion the robot and I see someone who wants to get down to business. Someone that shoots first, and asks questions never. They’re cold. Calculated. Built for a purpose.

But when people talk about my favorite Overwatch hero, what they say in the game chat tends to fall along these lines:

“Bastion please switch”

“Do we really need a Bastion for this?”

There’s a popular stigma in Overwatch that Bastion is the worst hero in the entire cast of 23 characters you can choose from in the game. For someone that isn’t a specific gender, or can say any comprehensible words, that’s certainly something of note. However, there’s plenty of reasons to love Bastion. All you need to do is take the time to get to know it. The odd contrast of a seemingly weak Recon mode, paired with the seemingly unstoppable sentry turret mode may be off-putting for some. But there’s much more to it than that. With the ability to do 4-15 damage per shot or double that amount in headshot damage (variance takes distance into account) while in Sentry mode – Bastion delivers.

Blizzard’s backstory for the metallic marvel is on their website.

Originally created for peacekeeping purposes, Bastion robot units possessed the unique ability to rapidly reconfigure themselves into an assault-cannon mode. But during the Omnic Crisis, they were turned against their human makers, forming the bulk of the omnics’ rebel army. Following the resolution of the crisis, nearly all of them were destroyed or disassembled. To this day, Bastion units still symbolize the horrors of the conflict.

Instead of communicating with words, Bastion’s speech is made of boops and beeps instead. The voice actor for those was Chris Metzen himself, pitch-shifted with the magic of technology to create the loveable death machine we know today. Bastion is a peaceful creature. It and their bird Ganymede turned away from a life of war.

While Bastion might be one of the least played heroes at the moment (0.46% popularity), that could soon change when the developers address it in an upcoming patch. As you can see by this early gameplay video from 2015, Bastion hasn’t changed much since Overwatch’s debut.

One of the prototypes for it’s ultimate ability was a remote mine that would unleash a storm of bullets once activated (a “Junkrat” + “Reaper” style of attack). But as other heroes change, our robotic ranger stayed the same. Pharah’s rockets can eliminate a Bastion with ease, Ana came equipped with sleep darts and grenades to deal with it right from the start, and Sombra can hack Bastion’s abilities long enough to shred through it with her submachine gun. This makes our mechanical hero a niche choice, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re structurally weak. Bastion survives with teamwork. Set it up with a Mercy or D.Va to keep it company, and the deadly robot can fire away uninterrupted and unharmed for great lengths of time.

I have 38 hours in Bastion. This first-hand experience makes me feel comfortable speaking directly on the matter. It works best when your team is on the defense. Their turret mode can cut through a Reinhardt shield like butter.  Bastion holds the line against the invasion of enemy forces and gives your team that extra bit of intimidating firepower. With the ability to self-repair, it knows how to outlast and survive, as well as dominate. Bastion’s ultimate ability transforms it into a tank, cleaning up the battlefield of your opponents with explosive ease. The damage-per-second capabilities (17,216 on average) of Bastion make them a likely contender for gold medal status during a match.

Bastion is a one star difficulty hero, which many assume is a sign of weakness. New players tend to feel more comfortable giving it a go, so they can get used to the basics of how the game works. But some brave Overwatch players have found ways to master Bastion in Competitive Mode and bump up their rankings. A Twitch streamer by the name of KolorBastion mains Bastion, and managed to climb towards the top rankings despite being colorblind.

A certain Twitch streamer tends to steamroll Bastion as a pushover type of hero that gets Play of the Game for not doing anything. I want to give him another way to look at it. Gamers ought to aspire to be as good as Bastion so they get Play of the Game themselves, instead of letting Bastion bask in the glory all the time. A single-handed team kill is impressive in it’s own right. Blizzard fine-tuned the Play of the Game formula to best accurately reflect the most prominent player of a particular match.

The greatest advantage of Bastion in Overwatch is it can be whatever you want it to be. If players focus on the fatal flaws and weaknesses of the hero, that’s all they’ll see. But if gamers look towards Bastion with hope, they won’t be disappointed. Bastion is a good hero in the hands of people who know what they’re doing. Despite the low barrier to entry, it takes skill to master the intricacies and nuances of the robot wonder.

So here’s to you, Mr. Roboto. I’m ready and willing to defend y’all against the haters just as hard as you defend your Overwatch teams.

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