Overwatch is constantly changing, as heroes go through buff and nerfs all the time. However, it is rather unusual for a character to be buffed one week, then nerfed right away the next week. Such is the plight of Bastion.
Bastion got a buff in the recent Overwatch update this week. It was designed to give him more survivability in exchange for losing some ranged accuracy. However, despite a week of testing on the PTR, the change has now made him "too powerful," according to Game Director Jeff Kaplan. Now, Bastion is nerfed, and is again in testing on the PTR.
"I want to share my personal opinion on Bastion (which is dangerous because I know I am a spokesperson for the game)," Kaplan wrote on the official forums in response to Bastion comments. "I play every night. I'm playing both Quick Play and Competitive (I played 2 games of CTF to get my loot box). Over the past few nights I've played with, as and against Bastion. My perception is that he is a little too powerful right now. In particular, in one match I was playing Bastion and the enemy Tracer was trying to hunt me down. The Tracer player was clearly a better player than I am -- a very skilled individual. I relied heavily on my self-heal and the Tracer could not finish me off. But I was able to kill Tracer in recon mode almost through attrition. This part felt wrong to me."
He added that, while there are pros and cons to Bastion's current design, "I don't think he's perfect yet."
Kaplan added that he knows that not everyone will be happy. He's played online games since they existed and has been working on them for 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."
He also addressed the idea of meta - the stats on which heroes are played most - and how the perceived meta by the community is different from actual in-game stats. He cited the one-time perception that Mercy was never played, one that was based on watching pro players and reading stats from those game, versus the actual internal stats that at that time Mercy was the fifth most played character overall.
"Balance changes can be very difficult to make when emotions run so high in the community," Kaplan said. "There is outrage if a hero does not get played a lot (like with Bastion or Symmetra). We make changes to make those heroes more viable which means they will get played more. The result is, people need to adjust to playing against Symmetra and Bastion more... and they are more powerful. We cannot just magically make Bastion get picked more so the stats look pretty and not make changes to make him more viable at the same time."
He also pushed back against the idea that the community says one thing and then Blizzard does something else. "Millions of people are telling us millions of contradicting things all day, every day at this point. Different communities are telling us different things constantly. The idea of community consensus is slippery at best."
The launch of 24th hero Orisa is right around the corner - she is now in testing on the PTR - which adds another character for the Overwatch team to keep balanced. Kaplan's thoughtful response may not appease everyone, but his running commentary throughout the thread shows that he and the team are listening and trying to address balance issues properly.
John Keefer posted a new article, Overwatch's Bastion Buffed This Week, Will Be Nerfed Next Week
Here's the thing with bastion. He's always been too powerful.
People play him less, because he's cheap. There's a stigma about the player who picks him, people make fun of you if you need that crutch. It's kind of an unwritten rule.
"if you're bastion, you must really suck"
Make him less of a shitty cheapass, and you'll see more players using him. Limit his ability to turn all the way 'round in turret mode. Which also makes Sombra more useful as a counter.
I kind of agree, I give my friends shit when they play him in QP, none of my friends play him in comp.
I kind of feel the same way about Torb and we always give shit to the person in our group that will pick him as a joke. :D
"Aww man, don't do that, you're in a group with me, people will associate me with your shitty play."
This sounds like WoW balancing, except change next week to next month or next patch