Essay

Surviving Covid

Trophy guide and walkthrough

MASHED_BEAUTATO HERE with another strategic guide on how to most efficiently ace the hottest new game on the market. Surviving Covid is the latest release from Apocalypse Studios – it’s a simulated survival game where you’re tasked with surviving a pandemic plaguing the planet. The shiny platinum trophy will take you between a couple of months to several years to obtain, depending on your playstyle. If you’ve played Apocalypse’s previous titles, Bubonic Rising and H1N1 1918, then you’ll have a general idea of what to expect from this game. The contemporary setting offers a new set of challenges that result in a fresh take on the pandemic genre. The year is 2020, and you’re in a world that’s already struggling with political negligence, a climate crisis and an impending economic recession. Your aim is to survive the Covid pandemic while leaving as small a negative footprint as possible. Creating your character can take anywhere from a few minutes to several weeks; it’s up to you how long you want to spend in the pre-Covid world. Character creation also features a quick-start option with three default character builds if you wish to jump straight into gameplay:

The Extremist: The Extremist build greatly decreases your likelihood of catching the virus. If you’re not going for the platinum trophy and just want to experience the game, this is your best bet. With this playstyle, your character will be prompted to avoid all risks, which can quickly net you the Hermit trophy. Of course, once you have this trophy, it becomes harder to change your tactics, as you’ll be inclined to remain alone and hidden from the world to stay safe. Your biggest danger as this character is decreased mental health, which you’ll have a higher chance of developing for each day you continue your shut-away lifestyle.

The Empathetic: Playing as an Empathetic means you’ll follow advice based on updated health data and prioritise others’ safety as well as your own. This means you could indirectly prevent the deaths of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. It’s also a great way to earn the Good Samaritan trophy early on by building a routine to prevent spreading the virus. You’ll gain popularity among your social circle and strangers alike, which will increase your self-worth and help influence those around you.

The Enraged: This is the most reckless playstyle and the complete opposite of the Extremist. As this character, you’ll challenge all health updates and instead focus on ‘uncovering the conspiracy’ behind the virus. This will give your Confidence stat a massive boost, but the trade-off is a greater chance of actually catching Covid. While you’ll alienate a lot of your local community as this character, you’ll also find a welcoming subsection of fellow ‘Sovereign Citizens’ who’ll stand with you online. But being an Enraged removes all armour options available for upgrade – you’ll have no masks, no hygienic rituals and no adherence to social distancing. Surviving as an Enraged is the hardest difficulty setting, but the best way to obtain the End of the World trophy.

While these are the three default character builds that make up the majority of non-player characters, Surviving Covid offers hundreds of hybrid builds you can create by mixing and matching character traits. I recommend starting with a legitimate survival-based playthrough as an Extremist or Empathetic and aiming to take health advice seriously to survive with as little damage as possible. Then you can clean up the remaining trophies in an Enraged playthrough.

During my first run, I used a mostly Empathetic build and added the Extremist trait of Extra Caution. Choosing Extra Caution runs the risk of manifesting a mental illness – for me, this was obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism-spectrum disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. While this sounds like a handicap, it came with a Hyper Awareness feature that let me max out my Social Distancing and Hand Hygiene skill trees early. However, it made socialising and daily routines more challenging. Every positive has a negative buried inside it, and every negative a positive.

Act One: Discovery

Discovery is the shortest act and works as an extended tutorial. This is where you’ll gain access to Survival skill trees and have the opportunity to join like-minded characters and form a Clique. I chose to be situated in Melbourne, Australia, which gave me a bunch of options to align with creatively focused Cliques. But any Clique will do – it’ll provide support when the game’s difficulty spikes. If you choose to play as an Enraged, you’ll fly through this section and level up a lot faster. You can net a ton of Confidence XP by claiming that the virus was created in a lab in China to destroy the West. Of course, this will tank your social status and earn you the Bigot title – which can be difficult to unequip. For this reason, I’d recommend sticking with the strategy of claiming that the virus is nothing but a bad flu. You won’t level up as quickly, but you’ll maintain character integrity.

If you’re playing as an Empathetic, now is the time to focus on strengthening all your Social Connections. Use conversation starters such as ‘Can you believe what’s happening overseas?’, ‘It’s scary to see all the footage of those major cities looking like ghost towns’ and ‘There’s no way the virus will come here.’ Once lockdown is announced, you can choose to hit up a bar or nightclub for a last hurrah and boost your Joy status, but this is a gamble – it’ll speed up the spread of the virus.

As an Extremist, you’ll jump straight into action and trigger panic buying in the community, giving you the chance to earn the Shit Stained trophy once toilet paper becomes a rare item. You’ll also be afforded the opportunity to earn a trophy that, at first glance, seems exclusive to Enraged characters – but if you load up on way more hand sanitiser, antibacterial wipes and non-perishable food than you’ll ever need, you’ll net the Selfish Bastard trophy.

I leaned into playing as an Empathetic in Act One, but eliminated all my social interactions outside work. This tanked my Mental Health bar but made the transition to Act Two easier to handle. Once my obsessive-compulsive disorder kicked into overdrive and the health potion I used to keep it in check started failing, I was able to obtain a ton of trophies that are usually reserved for later in the game. By the end of Act One, you could have the following:

Gold: It’s Just a Bad Flu – Go into denial and downplay Covid.

Gold: Shit Stained – Go a whole day without using toilet paper.

Gold: Selfish Bastard – Prevent one hundred other people from accessing essential goods.

Gold: Unemployment Benefits – Lose your job and successfully sign up for welfare payments.

Silver: Good Samaritan – Show kindness in a way that doesn’t benefit you.

Silver: Quarantini – Get drunk every day of the week.

Silver: Bedroom Office – Start working from home…from your bed.

Bronze: Social Pariah – Share a conspiracy theory about the virus being invented by the world’s governments to destroy the global economy and prevent you from getting on the beers.

Act Two: Coping Mechanisms

In Act Two, the game unfolds differently in each available setting. If you selected the United States, you’ll be a bit slow off the mark, but once the virus arrives, you’re in for a wild ride. (Please note that currently there are reports of the US server being flooded by trolls – this problem doesn’t seem fixable yet.) In Australia, you’ll get a lot of mixed messages at first, which will offer power boosts to Enraged players. If you’ve still got a job at this point in the game, prepare to lose it as lockdown starts.

Empathetics and Extremists take lockdown pretty well. You’ll gain a new ability called Zooming that you can use to keep your Social Bonds strong. However, I found this ability quite glitchy. Every time I tried to speak, a non-player character would speak over me, so I spent 95 per cent of my time not finishing my dialogue options. My biggest struggle was maintaining my Mental Health bar and Productivity level. This was very frustrating, as I made detailed plans for how to spend my days, but often couldn’t wake up before noon and would spend random periods of time drinking and crying.

If you spent Act One strengthening your Social Circle, then you’ll have plenty of support here, which makes the game easier to get through. I leaned into a more Extremist style: playing video games, watching Netflix and smashing through my long to-read list kept my character’s Joy stat moderately stable. Distracting yourself is an easy survival tactic with a high critical success rate.

If you’re playing as an Enraged, you’ll want to do your best to keep playing in the same way as Act One. It’ll be hard, especially as penalties get introduced, but it is possible. You’ll risk catching the virus, of course, but you can keep building your character’s Entitlement stat through social media rants. If you survive Act Two, you could have the following:

Gold: I Can Finally... – Read that book, binge that TV show, write that novel, complete your to-do list.

Gold: Dressed for Success – Fight off the urge to spend all your time in pyjamas.

Gold: Online Shopping – Start buying goods online.

Silver: Online Shopping Expert – Make enough purchases to receive a delivery every day of the week.

Bronze: Online Shopping Wildcard – Purchase something crazy that you really don’t need.

Bronze: Enough Tears to Make a Cocktail – Accumulate one hundred hours of crying.

Act Three: Suppression/Elimination/Destruction 

The game hurtles off into separate streams here, depending on how you’ve influenced the community around you. My game was close to elimination before the actions of Enraged and Empathetic non-player characters sent the virus spiralling into a new realm of difficulty. I had to take extended breaks from playing to sit in front of the mirror and pull at my face to make sure I was still a real person. But I’d always return to the game, because it’s fun, right? I was having a fun time. I had to be because I couldn’t stop playing. Why couldn’t I stop playing?

The Enraged can heighten the challenge of preventing spread in Act Three, as they’re designed to challenge authority. They’ll battle every non-player character, from police officers to their own neighbours. A lot of players call this part of the game unfair because they lose a lot of the progress they made in Act Two. I’m inclined to agree.

Confession time: I haven’t yet obtained the platinum trophy myself. I will, and this guide will ensure you do as well, but the game’s difficulty spikes are all over the place and random events can often transform the game from a leisurely affair into a stressful nightmare. I went from nearly beating the game and surviving Covid to locking myself away for eight weeks to grind out the isolation points needed to get out of lockdown mode, and it was a slog. Worse, this happened through no fault of my own: some stupid non-player character started a romance with an Infected and destroyed all my progress. It’s a flaw that can really ruin the game.

Of course, this means that I haven’t triggered the Vaccine event yet. But there’s a lot of talk on Apocalypse forums that your game might glitch and produce a faulty vaccine, so make sure to have multiple saved files as backup. Some players have even suggested the possibility of beating Covid without a vaccine and adapting to life with the virus instead. I can’t confirm if this is true, but if the Vaccine event glitches, you could give it a try.

By the end of Act Three, you could have the following:

Gold: Back With a Vengeance – Enter an even stricter lockdown.

Gold: My Shared Rona – Catch the virus and pass it on.

Gold: Am I a Living MAN or WOMAN? – Use insane legal jargon to get arrested for breaching restrictions.

Silver: Nobody Cared Who I Was Until I Put on the Mask – Stock up on custom face masks.

Silver: I Do My Own Research – Ignore health research and get your information from Terry and Karen on YouTube.

Silver: Hermit – Don’t leave your home for a fortnight. Stop shaving, bathing or cleaning your home. Eat ten meals a day not because you’re hungry, but because you’re bored. Don’t put on clothes. No one will know anyway.

Silver: End of the World – As an Enraged, push the world to the brink of destruction.

Bronze: Vax Up – Get vaccinated, shake a stranger’s hand, kiss someone on the lips and don’t have a panic attack when another human gets within six feet of you.

Platinum: Survived Covid – Congratulations! You obtained every trophy in the game.

AS YOU’VE PROBABLY guessed, Surviving Covid will take some time to finish. Apocalypse Studios has hinted at the possibility of adding expansion packs to extend the game’s story, including a deadlier strand of Covid and World War III breaking out on top of the pandemic. Stay tuned for updates.

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