Barely a month after slamming onto retail shelves, Borderlands’ first DLC expansion is now available. The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned takes place in an entirely new part of Pandora, bringing more than a dozen new quests, a variety of different environments and several new additions to the planet’s already bizarre bestiary. Is it worth the $10, or is Gearbox simply charging extra for content that should have been included on disc all along? We played through it and found a satisfying and compact experience that’s bound to keep fanatics busy. Those who are casual Borderlands players might want to think twice before spending the cash, however.

Conspiracy theorists should take note that the download weighs in at a bulky 1GB—it’s definitely not another one of those suspiciously trim 108 KB unlocks. Once it’s installed, players can hop into the new adventure from any fast-travel station by selecting the Jakobs Cave zone. After a brief opening sequence, with a heavily accented narrator and plenty of thunder and lightning, players find themselves on a dock leading into the new area. A scattering of bodies provides further hints that not all is well, in case the whole “Zombie Island” thing didn’t tip you off already.

It seems that a Dr. Zed (not Dr. Ned!) has been doing some…experimenting on a lumber town, and one of the side effects of his dabblings has been an infestation of undead. The first mission I ran into was activating a series of automated sentry turrets surrounding the town. After plowing through snarling hordes of zombies and rearming the weapons, I could interact with a Claptrap and proceed through the rest of the missions.

One of the biggest departures from Borderlands proper is the expansion’s use of atmosphere. In the main game, players move from one sun-scorched area to the next. It fits the Road Warrior tone that Gearbox was going for, but it did get a little repetitive. In Zombie Island, I got to see actual trees (hence the lumberyard), as well as graveyards, a hospital and a huge pumpkin patch. There are only a handful of zones to explore, but each one has its own distinct flavor.

These unique areas also get several new enemy types to populate them, and they’re easily the high point of the game. Zombies and defilers are plodding monstrosities, capable of spewing streams of bile that slow players down and obscure their vision. They’re easy to kill and don’t hit hard, but they have a tendency to surround and overwhelm you if you aren’t paying close attention. Suicide zombies are larger, barrel hurling monsters that make beelines toward any players they see. A good strategy against them is to fire at their feet, which causes them to belly flop on the ground, exploding in the process. Loot goons are even bigger, and they soak up a respectable amount of damage before they fall. Once they do, you can grab items from chests they have strapped to their backs. There are also airborne blood vipers, skeleskags and even wereskags. A few familiar enemies are on Zombie Island, too, but they’ve been given undead makeovers.