Q: Whats the point of buying the higher tier packs over the 30$ one if almost all of the exclusives can be lost?
A: You start your adventure in green zones which are safe zones, mobs don't kill you there so you won't drop your items. In yellow zones you might get attacked by other players but won't drop your items therr as well. You drop your items in red and black zones only. Besides some of the items are for your personal island so you don't need to carry them all the time. So if you want to have a slightly better start, you'd most likely get most expensive pack.
Q: If I buy the 30$ pack now, can I play instantly?
A: Yes, any pack gives you instant access to all closed beta phases and release. You won't have to buy the game at release.
Q: Is premium used in the CBT and if so, will we have it again after the wipe for official launch?
A: Yes and yes. All the packs shenanigans will be given after wipe and at release.
Q: What type of items are in the cash shop atm? aka is it pay2win?
A: There's no cash shop atm, you may however buy albion online gold which you can spend on vanity items or premium, you may also trade it for albion online silver (in game currency). Devs always say they won't add any items or resources which are common in p2w games, it's gonna be vanity items only.
Q: How is the population of the game at the moment?
A: The population is lower than before because lots of players are waiting for the wipe later this summer which will bring gameworld rework, progression rework, lots of new items and features, including criminal system. But since last week castle contest was announced lots of players returned to compete so it's not like the game is empty.