Dead Island: Epidemic Beta preview: A whole different kind of DI

Dead Island: Epidemic is the upcoming MOBA game from Sunlock Studios and Deep Sliver. MOBA, or ZOMBA as it has been delightfully renamed now, stands in multiplayer online battle arena and allows you to take on hordes of the undead in Dead Island fashion along with friends and other survivors. There are three modes available at the moment, including the main story prologue, Horde and Scavenge.

The prologue allows you to get a feel for the game and one of its characters, during this level you will find a weapon, use it to defeat various zombies, meet up with an AI character and then go on to secure a capture point before being thrown back to the main menu. Whilst this prologue was short, it was sweet and allowed me to mess around with the controls and get a general feel for the game as a whole. The top down view was something nice to see and the attacks were easy to master with the LMB dealing a light attack and the RMB dealing a much heavier one. There wasn’t much said about the story, so that’s one thing we’re all going to have to wait to find out about, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the zombie virus has carried over to a new island once more. Typical virus!

Horde is another interesting game mode, which allows you to team up with three other players and visit several captures points whilst defeating waves of zombies. At the end of the map you are then faced with defeating a zombie boss and luckily if you all die, you can still continue battling the beast where you left off, no restarts here.

Finally, there is Scavenge mode, which is PvP and places you against other sets of teams in a battle to the death. Each team has to secure a certain amount of supplies to be claimed the winner, it reminds me of Left 4 Dead 2 somewhat with its similar game mode.

It’s zombie killing time, friends!

Epidemic is very similar to the other games in the Dead Island series regarding items, weapons and the ability to upgrade and repair weapons using the workbench. There is a large variety of weapons available once you have leveled up your character and these include shotguns, rifles and pistols. There are also plenty of weapons you can physically attack enemies with and they include fist items and light and heavy weapons which may require two hands. All these weapons are liable to break at some point in the game, when they do or just before they do, you can visit the workbench and have a fiddle. Upgrading is similar to that in the previous games, with you picking up scraps of metal, consumables and special loot as rewards for your troubles. If you have the right amount of scrap needed to repair or upgrade, you can do so. Also included are blueprints, these allow you to create new weapons and mods if you have the correct amount of scrap/items available. I’ve only seen a couple of these so far during my time playing and I’m not 100% sure as to what you need to do in order to find these blueprints, they may just be randomly dropped or assigned to players.

Included in the full game will be a shop from which you can buy weapons, characters, blueprints, consumables and services (boosts to increase XP and currency gain for example). The shop isn’t active at the moment, but I did see different currency types available to the player in order to purchase said items. I’m not sure whether you will be restricted to purchasing in-game money using real world cash or not, but I would suspect that an in-game currency will be provided but that will only topped up occasionally.

Yes, we must ALL kill the Hoarder!

From the start you’re able to choose from a variety of characters, each with their own skills, abilities and core stats. Everyone is going to choose a character that feels right for them, I have played a mixture of the characters and could tell the difference between them within minutes of playing. Here’s the run down on the characters available to play as.

  • Isys had logged thousands of hours in fighting game competitions, and repaired the rusting cabinets in her spare time. Her latest world championship tournament prize was a tour of the most gorgeous islands in all of Southeast Asia. Now that the epidemic’s hit, she’s putting those engineering skills to work in a whole new way.
  • ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ the counselor asked. ‘I’m a lion tamer living with a flock of primates!’ Amber responded at the age of six. It was not far from the truth. Amber worked at shelters for dangerous and misunderstood animals from all over the world.
  • Taught by the mightiest of lumberjacks, Berg emerged from the great boreal forests of Canada with a log of Mahogany in one hand and raw power in the other. He left Yellowknife for a warmer job in Southeast Asia to find a tropical paradise. He’d soon find out that chopping through zombies was a perfect use of his skills.
  • Bryce was on vacation in Indonesia to catch some legendary waves during monsoon season. Turned out facing off against waves of undead was an even better adrenaline rush!

The ability to rank up is also available, and these give access to upgrade points which you can spend on your character’s abilities in order to make them stronger. Leveling up is easy, the more enemies you kill, the more points you collect.

There are a few new enemy types included in Epidemic and all face you with new challenges. They can attack you with their tongues and drag you slowly over to them, grasp you and slam you against the ground, cocoon you inside a jelly substance and harm you with ranged poison attacks and vomit spurts. I found that defeating enemies can be tough when faced against them on your own, working as a team is needed in order to survive not only basic zombie attacks but the more deadly ones from larger enemy types. Most enemies will need teammates to help you escape, a couple of whacks at the back of the head should get them to drop you. If your team doesn’t help you out soon enough, the end result is death, but don’t worry as you can be revived once the zombie hordes have subsided.


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