Killed my last Nightmare plague heart on Day 21. Was planning on doing this on Dread, but I didn't want to waste 21 days of progress. Currently on Day 84. Because I decided continue on, I couldn’t prioritize efficiencies when I started Nightmare mode, as I was just trying to survive. Since the old difficulty switcheroo method has been patched, I figured I'd share my ideas. Bear in mind this is from the Nightmare perspective. Dread would have to be easier, but I don’t know in what ways. In no particular order of importance, here is my work flow.
Certain enclaves have perks (bed and breakfast, sniper, endurance boost). Build your relationship by giving them weapons, resources, accessories, whatever. Their perks are generally worth pursuing. I had one with a bed and breakfast perk, and that gave me extra food and beds for my community! Another gave me sniper coverage. With the sniper tower I already had, I had two simultaneous people providing coverage! For a full minute, I was nearly untouchable. It made Nightmare mode less stressful. Seek out enclave relations! You may need to do a couple of favors for them to dish out a perk, but not all enclaves have a perk. But when they provide a benefit, they usually won't ask for another favor to sustain that benefit until you reboot the game. More on that in a bit.
I know it’s a weird thing to recommend, but if you come across them, keep the cannibals! They provide constant access to food, even if you ignore their request for help. If you’re having trouble feeding a community of nine, like me, then having access to their food is absolutely worth it. On a sidenote, enclaves asking for food won’t accept cannibal food.
You may need to decline an enclave’s request, in person. Ignoring help will lead to them leaving town, wasting initial effort. With a decline, you can at least keep the enclave around and wait for their next call for help. Having searched about 80% of Meagher Valley, one enclave asked for a portable generator. My last one was given away to another enclave and going out of my way to find another one wasn’t looking like it would be worth the risk of having them leave, while searching for the generator. I had to close the game out and start it back up.
If you are in a situation where you have to dashboard, close the application completely. If a pack of ferals are on you, rebooting the game will leave you were you left off, without the ferals. Same thing for when your vehicle is on fire, due to a swarm of zombies attacking it. Rebooting will leave the vehicle destroyed, but you will not have to deal with the aftermath of an explosion grabbing the attention of more zombies. Always keep a toolkit, for these occasions!
For me, there are two types of inventory: one that can be broken down into parts, and those that can be sold for influence. If I can break them for parts, I do so. If I can’t get parts them, I sell for influence. Keep one of everything, but quality of guns are important. Whatever the size of your group, they need to have .45, 5.56, 7.62, or .50 AP capacity guns if they are staying at the base. Even smaller caliber pistols are worth keeping, since enclaves may ask for them. Since I do encourage building these enclave relationships, I prefer to have these throwaway weapons around and not source them for parts. That 10 capacity .22 pistol can eventually lead to a sniper perk!
Get your builder leader to stand up a Sniper Tower, in your forever home. This will include a sniper coverage perk for 50 influence. I had an enclave with sniper support for 100 influence with a 30 minute cooldown. Again, having two snipers to cover me actually made finishing Nightmare mode a less stressful experience. Utilize sniper coverage for infestations, feral packs, or military zombies hordes. Or for that weird situation where you’re facing all three of these lovelies at the same time. It could happen. Here is my build for Meagher Valley’s Squelones Brewing Company:
Garden 3 – always have boost yields, be it meds or food. Whichever you need more content with.
Infirmary 3 – always have at least a level 2 infirmary. Duh. A upgraded infirmary will boost morale for those who appreciate it.
Workshop 3 – This place is needed to convert weapons into parts, which you can use to craft advance vehicle toolkits, unlockable in level 3 and with knowledge of automechanics. I prefer the advance toolkits for it’s quick and efficient repairs. And with level 3 workshop, you get a +1 in materials. Sweet.
Sheltered Beds 2 – This is for beds. :p
Watchtower 2 and Sniper Tower – Any help to keep the threat down helps. Also, Sniper Tower’s sniper coverage is good. If you feel you can gain influence back by having your sniper kill off horse or special zombies, you won’t. Sniper kills won’t net you any influence. The coverage is still very nice, though.
Keg Cooperage – I kept mine, and I still have it at Day 84. Not having any materials used is a very nice perk, I’ve come to realize. With Workshop 3’s +1 material, if I hit my capacity, I go to my storage and convert 2 materials to 20 parts.
When characters achieve Hero status, keep those with meaningful perks. I prefer characters that can add extra beds, boost morale, or provide value to resources, such as +1 ammo, or meal planners. When scouting, use characters that won't add value to these things, such as experience boost or extra resource capacity. Would much rather replace those characters than someone providing a surplus of food.
Get your maxed out, computer skilled character and get those two extra outpost slots, asap. I don’t remember how I got my signal booster (a wandering trader, I think?), but however you get it, get it. Those six slots are crucial.
I’ve listed my home site and facility layout. My (meaningful) Hero bonuses are +4 beds, +1 meds, +1 ammo, +3 morale, and -25% food consumed overall. For my outposts, I have 1 food, 2 fuel, 1 meds, 1 ammo, 1 power. My daily resource deficiencies and surpluses as listed as such:
-3.25 food/-1.75 food with water, no garden boost/+1.25 food with water and garden boost
0 ammo (-3 per siege)
As you can see, my food varies from situation to situation. I’m always having to keep the house’s water tank flowing, and I have to constantly boost my food yield, with a pack of seeds. When things are working, I have no issues sustaining my resources. With my Hero bonuses, this has worked out pretty well for me. Of course, you’ll have your own recruits with their own perks, so adjust your outposts and facilities accordingly.
All vehicles have been converted to a Ford Pinto. This means mowing down a horde will absolutely set an immaculate vehicle into a smoking mess. If you’ve played Dread/Nightmare, you already know. But here’s a friendly reminder to NOT USE YOUR VEHICLE TO KILL ZOMBIES! Wooden fences won’t damage your vehicle. Use this to your advantage! If a zombie or feral is hanging on your door, swipe them off with a fence, if one is near proximity. It’s better than lightly tapping them off with a tree or building.
Upgrade your primary vehicle asap! I have an upgraded Hellion, and that car is super fast, has great handling, and is fuel efficient as hell. I have to run the tank nearly empty to get the best bang out of a fuel can.
Morale and Infestations
The last thing you want is people leaving with premium inventory, like a high powered weapon or crossbow. Characters with +morale stats are pretty good. Infestations are a problem and too many infestation areas will impact morale. Use your sniper coverage and have a second character tag along, either one from your base, an enclave, or one of those random characters who occasionally drop on scent blockers. Remember to not use characters with resource rich traits! For infestations, crossbow is your friend! It’s silent and can take multiple enemies with headshots. I shot an arrow through a window, aiming for a screamer. By chance, I took out four additional zombies out, dropping my 1 screamer/6 zombie infestation to a 2 zombie issue.
Don’t allow infestations to spread too much! Small infestations will breed larger ones. A 1 screamer/6 zombie infestation is easier to handle than a 3 scream/10 zombie one, so keep on top of them when they pop up! In the vehicle section, I pointed out to never use the vehicle as a way to kill zombies. But in the case of infestations, I make an exception with the screamers and screamers only. They need to go, otherwise their screams will just allow more zombies to pile in on the infestations. It’s a risk I’m willing to take, but if I find my vehicle in flames, I dashboard and start the game again, with a toolkit to repair my inoperable vehicle.
If you idle your game, and you begin your idling with a high number of infestations, your home site will be constantly attacked. One night, I started my idle process with six active infestation sites. When I checked the game the following morning, my ammo resource count went from 51 units (consistantly 51 units for days, even during idling) and dropped down to 19 overnight. It was the only idle occasion where my ammo count took a dip that large. If you idle, take care of your infestations!
When idling, I turn multiplayer on, go to a survey point, and crouch down on the highest point. Sometimes, ferals and screamers will know you’re on the lower part of a billboard and cause noise, drawing in more enemies. Sometimes, they still do that one the higher point. This is where I use my sniper and have them clean up the area below. If they don’t clean all ferals up, I just wait for the 10 minute cooldown to pass and do it again. 100 days is a long while.
After a long period of idling, approaching houses will cause the game to freeze for a moment. I guess it’s finding areas in the building that haven’t been explored, and the more areas to explore, like the fire department across the street from the brewing company, the longer it needs to think. When it gets to that point, I usually dashboard, but I do this when I can spare a couple of hours or so to play after rebooting the game.
Rebooting the game will sometimes cause enclaves to ask for favors again. When requests go unanswered, they leave, along with their perks. Once their requests have been fulfilled, they usually don’t ask for anything else until you have to reboot the game again.
Utilize Disposable NPCs
Enclaves usually come in sets of three NPCs. I’ve never tried my luck with having just a single NPC enclave, from a three character enclave, but I have helped a single character enclave before. But when I see a third character, I enlist one of them to help with stuff like infestations or scouting for resources. When they die, your relationship status doesn’t take a hit, but I stop enlisting people from that particular enclave. I have a two person enclave with no benefits. When I hit my 100 day mark, I may enlist one of them to see if dropping the headcount to one would force that enclave to move or something. Still, I wouldn’t recommend that. It’s nice to have a spare character to help fight off zombies in the middle of a trade.
When one of those visitors with the scent blockers drop by, I always head over to accept the sample and enlist them. They may want help with hunting a juggernaut, buuuuuuuuuuuuut no. Use them to help fight off infestations. And if they die, there’s no negative impact on gameplay. In fact, if you’re able to finish off the baddies that killed the NPC, you’ll be able to loot their body. Sell for influence or break apart for parts. Win-win!
Started the guide on Day 84, wrapping up on Day 96. Just took time away to deal with infestations, keeping moral high, and managing my Garden for food, with an overnight idle.