So Ziost finally fully-launched today, bringing to a close the story which 3.2 brought to us. Today brings Dailies and two new World Bosses - one Open and the other Instanced - and really not a lot else.
First, as promised, I shall touch on the all-too-brief story which we get given.
The story is very brief. What we were handed last Tuesday was pretty much the extent of it, as all that was added story-wise to the planet was all of two cutscenes. That said, the story was decent. It follows, as everyone who has done Shadow of Revan will know, from the Emperor's revival and reveals that he has begun to seize control of the minds of the denizens of Ziost. This unfortunately also includes a team of Jedi - the Sixth Line - who are essentially Gray Jedi by another name.
You also find yourself reunited with both Lana Beniko and Theron Shan, and I do have to say that I wish that both of these characters should now receive fewer appearances. Forged Alliances was mainly their thing, but they now seem to be the default go-to NPCs for 3.0's content. Considering the varied Republic and Imperial officials still out there - heck, we even get introduced to one, Agent Rane Kovach - I think that we need to be seeing more of these rather than just seeing Lana and Theron again. I know it's probably because of their high positions, but even then, should the Minister of Sith Intelligence herself be running straight into the danger zone where the Emperor is running amok, potentially being in mortal danger and throwing Intelligence into disarray once more?
Speaking of characters, I have to make mention of Jedi Master Surro. Even though she's under the control of the Emperor for 99% of the time you see her, she is just so much fun to see. The little smirks, the calm confident walk, and even her bullying of the civilians just leave you in awe of her and of course the man puppeteering her. I didn't think they'd ever make anyone with that dreadlock-afro hairstyle fun or awe-inspiring, but they've definitely done it with Surro.
The small-scale nature of Ziost makes for quite a fun and fast run-through. There are various one-time missions dotted throughout which all grant Achievements - even the Bonus Missions attached to some of the main ones - which really do help to escalate the crisis; whether it's helping scan for survivors, installing turrets, or allocating Droids to a rescue path, you do get a sense of urgency and panic which is fantastically done.
Whilst I must admit that it is disappointing that we get the exact same story again on both factions, there are little twists in both which actually surprise even if you think you know it all, especially if you go Imperial and then Republic. Ziost is small enough for it to not be as aggravating as either Rishi or Yavin, though, so I personally can let this slide.
Even though the story's conclusion was kept under wraps until today, there were hints as to what would happen. Not only does the Emperor tell you what is going to happen, and not only do we see ever-so-briefly a scene of his former pawns writhing in pain, but every KOTOR Fan's favourite read (!) Revan reveals that the Emperor had destroyed a world before in a similar manner; he seized control of the wills of formerly-willingly-participating Sith Lords and used a ritual on Nathema to grant himself nigh-immortality, at the expense of every living thing.
So when the story finally completed, we bore witness to the planet's inhabitants being slaughtered as the Emperor again rid the world of life. We don't know what this was meant to achieve; whether he gave himself more life force, enough energy to assume a body, or whether it was just for show, but Ziost is now a dead planet. All life on the planet now consists of droids and the giant Sithspawn known as Monoliths.
With the story completed so quickly, is what's left of Ziost worth completing? Yes, as it has another weekly that grants Ultimate Commendations - if you care for such things - but otherwise it's fairly nondescript and perhaps worth doing once. There is no Ziost Reputation Faction, but perhaps this isn't so surprising knowing what happens to the planet. That said, the Dailies are actually quite fun, barring perhaps three - actually the majority - which are more standard "fetch/kill" quests, although Achievement Hunters may want to keep doing the one with the four probe droids...
The two Dailies remaining are far more irregular than most. One sees you repairing a GSI Speeder and simply riding it around (following giant green arrows which occasionally propel you off ledges) whilst it fires probes into Rifts in Ziost's surface. The other sees you reactivating a Droid with Power Cores that must be found across the instance which then completely holographically reconstructs that specific area. If you've read my Inquisitor critique, then you should know that I adore it when this game pays heed to archaeology, and this daily is absolutely fantastic because of this reconstruction ability.
Of course we come to the elephant in the room; the Colossal Monolith. This was the big thing that people broke through to access, and for one reason; the Hard Mode variant drops (204) Rated Mainhands. For those of you who don't follow ratings of PvE gear or its significance, these weapons are higher-rated than even those which drop from Revan in Hard Mode Temple of Sacrifice, and they are currently the only piece with such a rating. Even Story Mode drops some decent pieces; I cleared it with my Guild as a sixteen-man Op and it dropped Resurrected Earpiece and Chest and the Revanite Bracers. If these are all Random drops, it may well be possible to fully-gear with Revanite gear just from Story Mode, bypassing several of the bosses in both difficulties; the Bracers, of course, came only from Master and Blaster before this. I doubt any Mainhand below (204) would drop, but it might be a very distinct possibility.
I must here state that Hard Mode Colossal actually requires at least four of your members to have a buff from either killing or simply engaging - reports I've heard have been conflicting - the second Monolith boss; the Worldbreaker. This chap is out in the open and already has seen some major competition. The notion of this boss being done before Hard Mode Colossal is even attempted is actually very welcoming, as it means that people can't just go straight from SM to HM like they could with all the other bosses and so your group composition is tried and tested really quite effectively.
If there was one thing about the Dailies - and about Ziost in general, actually - is that there isn't much that can be done in a group. Sure, you can group up for the Dailies but there's nothing on the surface that actually requires a group - Worldbreaker of course notwithstanding - nor are there any instances which facilitates a group. The Phases are all Personal Phases rather than Group Phases, and all Dailies are just simple one-man Dailies. No new Heroics of any kind, which honestly I think is a real shame. It's a minor qualm, but I do wish that they'd reintroduce more group-only/difficult-to-solo content on future planets such as this.
So, all-in-all, is Ziost worth it? I'd have to say definitely yes. The main story is a fun adventure with a few interesting characters, and even the Dailies are worth doing a couple of times. It may not be long enough but from what we got, I'd happily say that we're moving into dangerous and dark waters.