Unpacking Overwatch's charming new Bastion animated short

Oh Ganymede.

Did you see the new Overwatch Bastion animated short? It's delightful. You should watch it irregardless of whether you play the game or follow the lore. A robot overcomes its programming and befriends a bird. Simple, beautiful, touching. Well done.

That's... surface appreciation out of the way. Let's dig a little deeper. Are there any secret clues about new Overwatch characters? And by Overwatch characters I mean Sombra, who is widely expected to be the next hero added to the game? The answer appears to be no.

There are no convincing Sombra sightings or clues in the Bastion short that I have read about. But that hasn't stopped people speculating. 'Maybe Bastion's flickering blue light is Morse code!' goes one theory.

"I noticed that the shield in the vid had some markings on it, like a flickering haze. Hoping someone can make a song from it," goes the tongue-in-cheek Overwatch Subreddit response.

'Maybe there are numbers and letters in the scenery!' goes another theory, even as far as capturing stills from the video and circling anything vaguely like a number or letter in the scenery.

The tongue-in-cheek response: "You mean you didn't see the skull hidden in the trees!?" Cue sarcastic picture.

skull
Oh gosh!

Yes, Bastion's short doesn't appear to be the place for Sombra teasing, and as a Mexican/South American-themed hero why should it be?

Our Chris Bratt came back from Gamescom with a theory about when we'll hear more about Sombra. He reckons Blizzard will have the character appear to hack BlizzCon in early November and reveal herself this way. He bases a lot of this theory on his Gamescom interview with principal Overwatch designer Scott Mercer, and his reaction to the Sombra question. The video is embedded below.

What does the Bastion short tell us about Overwatch lore? There aren't major revelations but there is some nice detail. We know that most Bastion units were destroyed at the end of the Omnic War - Bastion units being the devastating frontline of omnic forces. And we know that the Bastion unit we play in Overwatch was overlooked, left dormant in a forest - the forest in the video. But we didn't know how he reactivated, nor how he overrode his programming and gained a kind of sentience.

In the animated short we see Bastion awaken and then follow his programming (presumably controlled by the omnium mega-factories once upon a time) to a waypoint - the German city of Stuttgart. But a cardinal bird, called Ganymede, puts a spanner in the works and sparks Bastion's soul, prompting an awakening of sorts. The Shambali omnic monks that Zenyatta belongs to are founded on this idea of an awakening, and it suggests wider sentience among omnics and robots is possible.

The animated short also shows us a frontline Omnic War battle in motion, featuring the Bastion units of varying types (both small and large - titanic, even) versus soldiers that include German Crusaders, an elite fighting group that Reinhardt belonged to.

The Crusaders are led by Balderich von Adler, who we can see slumped dead on the throne in the new Eichenwalde Overwatch map. He led a last-ditch defense against the omnic army there, and was a mentor and possibly father-figure to Reinhardt. It's von Alder's armour that is being added as a legendary skin for Reinhardt in Overwatch.

There doesn't appear to be much else to take from the Bastion animated short, but what there is is brought together in a video by Hammeh, who nerds out about Overwatch lore on YouTube, and I recommend following if you're into that.

Incidentally the name that appears at the end of the animated short, Yvain Gnabro, is the name of an animator at Blizzard who sadly died in a motorcyle accident recently.

Oh and if you're in love with the cardinal bird Ganymede - and how can you not be? - there is an official plushy Ganymede toy you can buy.

It's also worth watching the funny Bastion Play of the Game gif inspired by the animated short. Bravo!

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer  |  Clert

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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