Saturday, 16 May 2015

The big Ziost review

Ziost has been released for over a week now, so why has it been so silent on Ravalation? Don't worry, I haven't quit; I have been busy playing through the story on both Imperial and Republic characters. I've also had the chance to play around with the world bosses. So here is my long-awaited all-inclusive Ziost review, featuring both pre- and post-May the 4th content.

Spoiler alert: if it wasn't obvious yet, this post will contain some massive spoilers about the Ziost story.

One story to please them all

A common sentiment felt is that it's a shame there is only one storyline shared by all classes, and even by Imperial and Republic classes alike. I agree, but it looks to me like the developers simply don't have enough resources to pull it off. I think it shows that the devs are aware of this demand, because they have taken extra care in how the characters you meet react to the player character, referring to things you have done in the past on occasion. These small differences make me still enjoy replaying the story on other characters.

I do think it's a pity that companions don't react to anything that is said on Ziost, unlike on Makeb and Oricon. Picking a companion that I still need affection or kills (for the achievement) with is one of the small things I enjoy about doing quests. I also think it's a bit boring that almost all Ziost achievements are simply to complete parts of the storyline. There, that was my whining for today. Over to the next part: is the storyline itself any good?

I've heard people complain that they thought the Ziost content is boring. I feel these people mostly fall into two categories. The first are people that were disappointed with the May the 4th event content. Even though that content was exactly what was promised, namely dailies and a world boss, they apparently had made up more of it in their anticipation. The other group consists of some people in my Republic guild. They only login to raid, so my guess is that their disinterest can be explained by them being a bored bored by the game overall.

The reactions from the people I know are enjoying the game were overall positive about Ziost. Just like me, my fellow SWTOR bloggers thought it was an entertaining storyline (see the bottom of this post). If anything, it is an exceptional story for ending the way it does. How much of a hero we may be, it just wasn't enough.

It was strange to see Ziost turn dead and then have to go down there to see what could be done. I felt defeated, useless. Ziost certainly provides one of the more depressing storylines out there. On a positive note: it does provide the best screenshot opportunities for your characters!

Master Surro

New major characters

Apart from Lana and Theron, whom we've already met, we also meet some new characters on Ziost. I guess you could count the former Emperor as one, although we have briefly 'met' him when he got released on Yavin 4. He is now referred to as "Vitiate" by the Imperials, because they don't consider him their Emperor anymore. His voice is all over the planet. One of the new characters we meet is a jedi master that is possessed by him, master Surro (depicted above), brought to Ziost by Theron but then taken over by Vitiate. She seems to be quite popular. My guess it's her hilariously smug face. She cracks me up everything I see her.

The last new character we meet is an undercover Republic spy working at Lana Beniko's side, with shifting allegiances. You can chose to betray him or not. I was a bit disappointed that he disappears from the radar even if you chose his side. What choices you make don't really impact the story.

The quests

With the background story that each death strengthens Vindicate, I think it's a shame that the bonus objectives are still to kill x amount of x. What I do enjoy, though, is that the quests themselves aren't all just about killing guys. They are pretty easy, but fun:

Opening doors through unconventional means.

Finding your way to unexpected places.

And last but not least: the flying speeder!

Unfortunately, there are some minor bugs as well, of which the most annoying is the bonus quest to free civilians that doesn't always update when you kill them. Or it only updates for one person if you're grouped. It does sometimes update when you're nearby when someone else kills them, though. Weird stuff.

What I do think is a shame, is that instances only update for one person. This means that when you're questing together with a buddy, you need to do the story instances separately in order for the quest to progress. I preferred it when you could just do everything together: that way it felt more immersive. It went a lot faster, too.


I'm personally not a big fan of doing dailies. I have therefore only done the Ziost dailies once, but I liked what I saw. There's one instanced quest that basically represents an archaeologist's wet dream: you get a device that shows through 3D projections what this part looked like ages ago (pictured above). If only I would have such a device in my offline life! I'm sure things like this will be developed and deployed at some point in the future. Another quest I liked was a sort of speeder track you had to follow. The macrobinocular one was bugged in a group, though, which was pretty annoying because I was doing the dailies together with Conrad. Unless they fix this, the fastest day to do the dailies will be to solo them.

A downside of the dailies might be that they take a while to complete. But I would have to do them a few times more, get them into a routine, to be able to say anything about that with certainty.


After Vitiate was done with Ziost, all that was left was a moon landscape with the remains of buildings, plants and trees. All the people have turned to ashes. I feel really bad when saying this, but I actually think it looks more beautiful this way. Strolling on post-apocalypse Ziost is as if walking through a dark fairy tale, or jumping into the world of a black-and-white TV series.

World bosses

What I didn't realize at first, was that there are two world bosses on Ziost: one in the open world and one instanced. Killing the open world boss gives your character a buff that partly protects you from the instances world boss. You need to kill both to complete the weekly quest.

The Ziost world bosses provide enough food for thought to fill a whole blog post, so I'll restrict myself to a short first impression. The open world boss (depicted defeated above) is by far the easiest world boss in the game so far. Most groups will easily kill this boss with just one healer.

The instanced world boss has the right difficulty for storymode: not very hard, but still enough of something to work on for pugs. The hardmode version drops the best mainhand currently in the game, which I wasn't too happy about at first. However, the fight is very hard and not easy to farm, so I feel better about it now. Unfortunately, the fight has a design flaw. The damage output is currently so high that it's virtually impossible to beat the fight using the intended mechanics. It is easier to eat through the damage with some amazing AoE healing (make sure to bring an scoundrel/operative healer) and don't pick up any coloured circles.

We beat the world boss hardmode with our Imperial raid group on our sixth try, bringing two healers (including one operative) and ignoring the proper mechanics. I was super lucky, because it dropped a willpower mainhand... and who happened to be the only willpower class present? Exactly: mistress Fárah. Lucky me.

Other blogs on Ziost

Impressions of Ziost & Ziost, the Day After: Shintar of Going Commando goes over all the quests and talks in more detail about the two world bosses.

Quick SWTOR 3.2 Rise of the Emperor Review: Heather of Pretty Little Sith hopes the story feels more completed than it does compared to where she is now.

The Tragedy of Ziost: Calphaya from Spawn of the Dread Master thinks the Ziost story, although short, is definitely worth is. He also is a huge fan of master Surro.

Review: Ziost: Pixelkaffe likes the Ziost story and is happy having a new scenery for doing her dailies.

With all that out of the way, what did you think of Ziost?


  1. I think people like Master Surro because of her crazy hair. Let's be honest, most of the NPCs we meet while levelling up look pretty same-y, with military buzzcuts or slightly longer but still utilitarian hairdos. Seeing an important NPC with a funky haircut really spices things up! I also liked that the Mirialan Jedi that you fight in the tower has the pompadour hair or whatever it's called.

    Didn't they fix the instanced boss so you can't heal through the circle mechanic anymore? Or did they just empower him so it's become more difficult but is still possible?

    1. Good point about the hairdos. I think it's the combination of that and the facial expressions that made me like her so much.

      You're right about the instanced boss 'fix', but my guess is that it's more difficult but still possible. I suspect that performing the circle mechanic works out well if you have the right classes with speed buffs (or a sentinel/marauder with transcendence/predation) - which we didn't have on our last attempt, so we couldn't make it that way. We tried both with and without doing the circle mechanics and sage/sorc + mando/merc healing just didn't do enough AoE healing to survive the rift channels. Another group in our guild did make it after the 'fix', but they used 3 healers to avoid having to do the circles. My guess is having an operative healer might be the key, as they currently have the best AoE healing in the game. We had one on the night of our kill, but we didn't have one Thursday.

      I don't really like doing it with 3 healers, feels a bit lame to me. My operative should hit level 60 today and we'll try the world boss with her with tonight's raid. I'll let you know if we gain any insights.

      Did you guys manage to get him down yet?

    2. Not on hard, no. We're working on it, but we've been focusing on the Revanite Commanders lately.

    3. We did the world boss on HM last night, with me healing on operative (= interesting experience). We found out it isn't possible to ignore the mechanics with just two healers anymore (even if one is an operative), so we tried it with the mechanics, got him down to 33% on our best try I think. The thing that screwed us over each time were annoying random things, like getting stunned by picking up a colour and getting the orange circle debuff at the same time (dropping them all on yourself without being able to do anything about it --> dying). I wish they thought about these sort of things, it's such bad game design. Anyway, after 1,5h of wiping due to this sort of unavoidable BS people wanted to quit so I proposed to give it one try with three healers. Our sorcerer respecced heals and guess what... we made it in one go. One very long, boring go. I'm so disappointed; I wish the devs would test HM themselves. No way you can do this easily with so many RNG mechanics.

      So that was my little rant. ;)

      I'm sure you can kill the Ziost world boss HM easily if you take three healers as well - might give you a bit of a boost for the Commanders with the mainhand it drops. Lame as it is, it's just the least frustrating option at the time being. I hope you'll get the Revanite Commanders down soon! :)

    4. That really doesn't sound very fun, though thanks for the tip!

      You got any advice for Revanite Commanders as well? ;) Currently the wheels tend to come off pretty quickly in the last phase, mostly from adds running rampant, while people can't seem to agree whether they should be tanked, CCed, knocked back or what...

    5. I can tell you how we do it? Don't have much time right now, though. Here's a video of us doing it, if that's any help:

  2. There were a few interesting twists to daily quests on Ziost, particularly the holographic reconstructions quest. I loved seeing the things progress the more you upgraded the droid's capabilities. I walked back through the entire area after all the types of recreations were unlocked to see the full recreation.
    I always complain about dodging mobs in daily areas, but Ziost just creeps me out with being so... empty. I actually found myself missing random mobs. I'm extremely happy that they didn't place any down there though, that would have been too odd after everything we saw happen.

    In general, I have found that the things they did to instance and tell the story in this expansion made the storytelling great, and I'm happy to see them try different ideas, but it has been very hard to get my army of alts through, let alone try to play with a team/group. I don't hate the design and I do enjoy the story that was told, but I hope this isn't a template for all future content.

    1. It's annoying that you can't do them well in groups, but I find it even more annoying that you can't get to the final area (unless you use a guild ship summon) on Ziost without having done all the story quests. I understand that it makes sense storywise, but this way I feel obliged to do it on all of them. Like you say, I hope it's not always going to be like this from now onwards.

      I agree that they did a great job coming up with dailies that didn't involve killing enemies - that must've been an interesting challenge for the developers.

  3. I mentioned Ziost in my last post yesterday. I enjoy the Boss fights. Fun all the way around. I just felt like the storyline should have been a bit more robust. I understand the dev's sent what they promised. But for me, when I hear "Rise of the Emperor" my expectations kinda go through the roof. I spent a few late nights getting Mharius leveled to 60 so I could actually see what was going on in Ziost. It started out pretty solid, I just felt like it petered out too quickly. As with more than a few, Dailies are not my thing, not at all enjoyable. I might aim for them if I think I can get some really cool things to put into my stronghold, but really, that's about it. So, coming to a dead ashen planet to knock out a few dailies just isn't working for me. I'll do the weekly raids, especially when our team can actually handle the Hard mode, but even Storymode is fun to fight in. Personally, I've started work on other alts, rather than stick around burning time on a planet of ash and death. I mean, cmon, Mharius has to go out, rebuild the entire Imperial Intelligence network while leaving a figurehead in charge. Man I got stuff to do! I gotta get a better home base of operations, a network of safe houses, perhaps a flexible fleet of ships and COUNTLESS Operators/informants, etc to umm subjugate..errr I mean support the Sith Empire, ya support, that's the ticket....


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