'Dead Island Epidemic' Release: Early Access Live On Steam, Three Starter Packs Now Available [VIDEO]

By Luke Caulfield , Updated May 19, 2014 12:55 PM EDT

Developer Deep Silver's last foray into Dead Island territory didn't fare too well, so they changed courses by offering the first ZOMBA in Dead Island: Epidemic.  A cartoony multiplayer title that doesn't take itself as seriously as past titles, it goes into Early Access today with three different packs available for players to purchase.

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Each pack contains exclusive weapons, upgrades, and in-game currency that can be used straightaway or during the upcoming Open Beta phase and at the launch of the final game. You can check out the specifics below, including what each pack offers, and how much it costs:

* Patient Zero Pack ($16.99) – The entry pack offers 5 unique weapons, 3additional characters, the “Golden Sprocket Hammer” as well as boosters, character & gear points and in-game cash.

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* Deadicated Pack ($39.99) – includes all of the“Patient Zero Pack” plus additional content: six Tier 2 weapons, the “Golden Precise Shotgun”, the “Keghammer”, a larger booster and bundle of character & gear points and in-game cash plus exclusive access to Sam B as playable character. Additionally, players will also receive even more items & characters once the game heads into Open Beta and then again at the launch phase.

* Contagion Pack ($44.99) – With the “Contagion Pack”, players can spread the Epidemic to their friends. It offers everything that is in the “Deadicated Pack” (with an alternate “Contagious” in-game title & icon) four times: once for the player and three gift copies that they can share with their friends.

In addition to the packs, Deep Silver has also announced that rapper Sam B. of the first two Dead Island games is now a playable character for Epidemic, joining Amber, Berg, Bryce, and Isys.

Epidemic retains the mutated virus concept introduced in Riptide. A presser at the game's announcement described the game thusly: "The terrifying virus that swept the islands of Banoi and Palanai has spread to become an unstoppable epidemic. While chaos spreads across the globe, pockets of resistance form. On the nearby Amaia islands opportunists, mercenaries, and adventurers are discovering new ways to survive and thrive in a world at the edge of collapse. You are one of them... A game that makes it easy to jump straight into the action: there are no preset towers, bases or minions - to defeat the opposing teams, players must rely on their skills, their teammates, and the lethality of their own crafted weapons."

Much like Riptide, Epidemic seems to be just another expansion on the traditional Dead Island formula - Bludgeon the living hell out of the walking dead, scavenge items and equipment, make unique and custom weapons, and all with a crew of buddies online. Instead of working together, players are split into "three competing teams of survivors. Find friends and allies to combat the undead hordes side by side as you war over limited supplies." The game follows the free-to-play model, and shifts from the series traditional first-person view to an overhead/isometric perspective.

In honor of Sam B's inclusion, you can check out "his" music video (actually performed by Josef "J7" Lord with Chamillionaire), "No More Room in Hell," below. You can grab the packs from Steam here.

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