So, five days ago, on Star Wars Day, we were allowed to see the conclusion to the Ziost storyline. (Spoilers this time if you haven't seen it yet!) There was a big crowd of people at the mission terminal that couldn't wait to see it.
As soon as you click it, you get a message that some sort of anomaly has been detected on the planet... and then you get to see Vitiate "consume" it by killing every living thing on the planet. Talk about a shocking moment, especially since the story up to that point had ended with NPCs expressing hope that maybe the former* Emperor wasn't as powerful as they thought.
People have pointed out that the whole thing is reminiscent of something that is talked about in the Revan novel, how Vitiate consumed all life on his home world to make himself immortal. If this was indeed a similar sort of thing, he only just got even more powerful. Personally I was also reminded of an event in the early Jedi knight story - it's been a while, so I don't remember all the details, but basically you get sent out to save a planet from an evil superweapon and arrive too late, which cumulates in a moment of shock similar to this one as everyone stares down at the planet's destroyed surface. Finally, the whole thing is an interesting contrast to Makeb, where the threat of the planet's destruction is dangled over your head for the entirety of the storyline, but it isn't very credible and it's unsurprising that it never bears out.
In hindsight, it makes a lot more sense now that the quest areas on Ziost felt so tiny, considering that they literally only existed for the purpose of progressing the one story quest. Ziost's "permanent" state is that of a dead planet. There aren't even any mobs down there, except for a couple of giant Monoliths (alchemical Sith creations), which you are better off dodging than fighting if you are on your own.
The quests are once again pretty varied (they kind of have to be, with no "ten rats" to kill), and the mission with the speeder bike ride was pretty fun. I was quite annoyed though when the one with the Macrobinoculars bugged out on me and my pet tank when we tried to do it in a group and we were forced to reset it and drop group to be able to complete it. I just can't help but see this as another sign of Bioware's decreasing interest in making their content group-friendly.
Even though the new dailies were a fun little romp, I also couldn't help but wonder why I should keep doing them. There is no new reputation or anything attached to them, so the only rewards are commendations and some new tokens for another set of orange gear with blue mods. As a raider, I have commendations coming out of my ears and the last thing I want to do is get more of them. I occasionally use them to buy gear for a rarely used alt or a companion purely because I don't like being capped, but other than that I really have no use for them. I guess people who don't do endgame group content may appreciate another way of upgrading their gear a little.
What I probably found the most interesting though were the Colossal and Worldbreaker Monolith bosses. Bioware has a history of experimenting with world bosses: giving them long respawns, then shorter ones, putting them in instances, then putting the next one outside again, and so on and so forth. The two Monoliths definitely feel like another step in this ongoing experiment, since one of them is a world boss and the other one is inside an instance (an operations boss). The weekly requires you to kill both, and to tackle the Colossal Monolith on hardmode you're supposed to have a buff which you only get from killing the Worldbreaker Monolith beforehand.
I thought this sounded immensely annoying at first, considering my bad luck with ever seeing the Yavin world boss out in the open, but fortunately Ziost spawns lots of instances quickly due to its small size, and even if another group just killed the world boss before you, he respawns after only fifteen minutes.
I also thought that the Worldbreaker Monolith was the more fun boss of the two in terms of mechanics. He spawns three adds that can't be killed and make him invulnerable to damage while even one of them are active, but if you get their health low enough, they go into a "stasis" for about thirty seconds during which you can actually damage the boss. What makes this fun is that it's vital that you co-ordinate dps on the adds or you'll end up with a "rotation" where at least one of them is always up and you can pretty much never hit the boss. The first time I pugged this fight and nobody knew what to do, we actually managed to have the boss enrage on us, which was pretty funny.
I've been less impressed by the instanced boss, the Colossal Monolith. He feels like just one more giant circle dance... and somewhat ironically, the current recommended strategy for killing him on hardmode seems to be to ignore his main mechanic and just AoE heal through the whole thing. My small guild group certainly didn't have much luck on our first night of attempting him on hard and trying to actually execute the circle mechanics correctly. But then again, considering that he's supposed to drop a mainhand better than what you get from harmode Revan, I would expect him to be something of a challenge.
* On a side note, I thought it was interesting that it took until Ziost for the Empire to fully denounce the Emperor, and Lana insisting on calling him Vitiate felt quite poignant. Makes you wonder about the Empire's future though - there must be a huge power vaccuum now that no single person is officially in charge of the Empire anymore. Surely more than one Dark Council member must be more than eager to fill that role, wanting to become the new Emperor?