Want to get Nightmare difficulty rewards and achievements? Here I will share my deck & setups that I personally used to finish all maps on Nightmare difficulty with 3 bots offline.
Easy Solo Nightmare Survivalist Build Guide
This deck focuses on a consistent damage output and replenishing health to let you survive hordes, bosses and tank through objectives.
I am by no means a veteran player, at the point of writing I bought this game, finished all maps on Veteran, then immediately jumping to finish the game on Nightmare, and I was not barely getting through by luck at any point.
Of course, having the map knowledge (to know what to expect) and playing tactically and patiently is still necessary.
Deck, Cards & Why
To start, this is the overview of my deck, and I will explain what each cards are for, feel free to change them to your own playstyle – whatever works for me, may not work for you.
Most important 2 cards of this build:
- Fresh Bandage – Heal 15 Trauma every level and restore HP.
- Buckshot Bruiser – Shotgun gives 0.5 Temporary HP for each pellet hit.
First card, you don’t pay anything to restore your trauma, if it is a short map and you didnt take anymore trauma damage, you just saved yourself the cost of a first aid station.
More money = more upgrades for surviviability (Team Health/Better healing items) or DPS (upgrade grenades).
Second card, in my opinion, once you get a fast-firing shotgun like AA12 (Rarity/attachments do NOT matter), and combine it with the cards I have below, is totally broken. Ironically, the card actually turns big boss spawn into your favour, because you can get so ridiculously overhealed from it, you literally become unkillable.
This video shows you how quickly you can regain lost HP and hit the ceiling of overheal just by mag-dumping the boss:
DPS Related Cards:
- Mag Coupler – +20% Reload Speed
- Reload Drills – +50% Reload Speed
Now, even the best guns need to reload. We have all been there – Running dry while in the middle of mowing down a horde or boss with an extended mag M249. These 2 cards are there to reduce the down-time cause by reloads = more consistant DPS output = more health gained.
- Screwdriver – +50% Use Speed, +10% Stamina
Quality of life card, since you are the only human, you do all the objectives and actions. Besides, doing them faster = less chance of getting hit & more time shooting
- Optics Enthusiast – +30% Accuracy
- Quick Kill – +50% Accuracy
Essentially allow you to shoot with pinpoint accuracy without aiming down sights; ignoring the “Disable” penalty and no ADS = move faster, just point and shoot like L4D.
- Large Caliber Rounds – +7.5% Bullet Damage, +200% Penetration
- Silver Bullets – +10% Bullet Damage, +15% Effective Bullet Range
Further increases your DPS by direct damage, penetration allows you to spray head level and decimate hordes, and range is useful on shotguns.
Some more survival cards:
- Vanguard – Melee Kills heals 1 HP
- Battle Lust – Melee Kills heals 1 HP and 0.1 Trauma
Since we need ways to replenish our inevitable HP losses outside of bosses, these 2 cards are very straightforward – you bring a melee weapon, kill some zombies, you get health; if you are maxed out, you even get temporary overheal.
The only restriction is to make sure you are not losing more HP than you gain from it. Holding off a horde at a doorway is an easy way to utilize this.
But on Nightmare, zombies may have corruption cards that give them acid/fire/explosive heads, in that case meleeing zombies MAY do you more harm than good, so generally stick to using a ranged weapon/shotgun.
- Body Armor – +20% Trauma Resistance
- Double Grenade Pouch – +2 Offensive Slots (Grenade slots)
- Fanny Pack – +15% Trauma Resistance, +1 Support Slots (Healing Item Slots)
Trauma resistance is the most important since it saves you money long term, and prevents losing a run because you end up with 40 max health at the finales.
Extra slots are great as they are expensive to buy in-game – these 3 slots already save you 4500 coppers, and RNG based which one you get in shops. It also allows you to hoard ultility supplies early game and the transition until you find good guns much smoother.
- Hydration Pack – +25 Health
OR Money Grubbers/Copper Scavenger/Free slot –
Honestly, this is a personal pick. +25 HP probably will save me quite a few Team Health upgrades hence a lot of money, but I found that I didnt actually need it. So do as you wish.
Personally I think this build works the best with Doc.
- +15% healing efficiency = More survivability, you also get more temp. HP from using the excessive healing items.
- +20% Trauma Resistance = you can afford more mistakes, take more damage and your max HP does not suffer long term. (Stacking with cards).
But I think Holly will work very well with this build too.
Holly gives Damage Resistance and recovers health – even though the latter is already covered with the cards.
Remember, for Holly you need to KILL a zombie, for the card the shot just needs to HIT.
Walker may work too but I don’t think extra damage is really necessary.
First, some general ideas/the philosophy behind my build:
- I generally avoid cards that reduce my damage resistance or health. This is Nightmare difficulty, zombies hit hard enough and healing is rare and far in-between. The point is to SURVIVE and win. Health is priority.
- Similarly, Trauma poses the biggest challenge because while HP can be healed back up with healing items, trauma can only be removed by first aid stations (pills/first aid kit heal insignificant amount of trauma). They are rare and cost too much for what they are worth – better to just avoid getting it than spending thousands to fix your mistake.
- But if you accumulate too much/ignore trauma (you remember the times when you reach the Act finale with a maximum health of 40?), the run is over – one horde swarm you cannot manage/without a room to defend, or one boss hit, you go down; twice, you die.
You can’t accomplish any objective at that state, so you need to avoid trauma at all cost.
- Trauma also limits the MAX overheal you can go up to.
For example, if your max overheal is +100 above normal HP, and your trauma limits your max HP to 50, then the maximum overheal you can reach is only 150.
If your max HP is 200, you can go up to 300 HP with healing items and cards.
Playing with 3 bots offline also allows you to ignore certain aspects of the game.
- For a start, end-map money everyone gains goes to you (supposedly you should also pool your money as a team in MP but…good luck in pubs) so you can decide alone what you need to buy.
- Ammo is essentially infinite – when you run low, bots will drop ammo for you so you can safely ignore “ammo capacity” penalty in cards.
- Bots make for great damage absorbers – I feel that they take much less damage than me when swarmed or hit by mini-/bosses, but I did not bother to check this. Who cares anyway.
But one thing for sure – they get 2x Downs before they die and we get 1.
- Bots actually save you. They always stick around you, wherever you go, they go – you get pinned they will react actually quickly (compared to L4D bots I tried playing with in the past)
- After you die, you can actually take over a bot and keep playing. You will be swapped back to your own character when yours respawn or is rescued. The downside is that you will be using that bot’s deck of cards meanwhile.
Weapons & Attachments
From my own experience, shotgun is necessary long term (even when superior LMG was lying around). Your survival depends literally on it.
The beauty is that you dont need to kill it, you just need to connect your shots and hit, and you will get your HP.
For this reason, the best shotgun is obviously AA12.
The Benelli Super 90 will work too – rate of fire/mag dump speed > actual damage for HP purposes, and the bots will do quite decent damage against special infected anyway. But the magazine capacity is much lower so trigger discipline is required.
870 Express also works but barely since reloading and pumping takes the momentum off.
As for attachments, since you are using a shotgun and certain cards, you will never ADS = you don’t need ADS time, or ADS movement attachments.
Get the ones that give you reload speed, bigger magazine, bullet penetration, accuracy, movement speed and you are good. To be honest, I don’t think attachments matter that much in my runs anyway – the gun is more for self defense, the bots will do a lot of heavy hitting for you.
The Belgian is a personal choice, but I prefer having a machete or baseball bat for wide swing – after all, thats what my melee cards are for – if for any reason, the shotgun is out of ammo, or I am swarmed in an open area from all directions, a melee weapon will do much better than a gun.
Not much I can say here. Obviously Toolkit is a must to open locked treasure rooms.
As for team upgrades, I prioritize getting Quality Upgrade for grenades and healing items, then Team HP (for myself).
I do not really see the point of upgrading for more slots or higher quality of Toolkits.
And with the cards, 3 grenade slots and 2 healing slots should be sufficient most of the time – remember your toolkit allows you a mid-round resupply in the locked room, and 99% of the time there is a first aid station there.
With this build and bots, there is no reason to pay for HP or ammo. There should be more than enough money to spend.
- Just because this is a survivalist build, it does not mean you can run around, get caught out of position and expect not to be punished. Playing with tactics and cautions is still compulsory.
- horde incoming? get a room and hold the doorway.
- Triggering a car alarm for 25 bucks? not worth it.
- A boss is spawning 100m after you stepped out of the saferoom? just backtrack…
As I said above, feel free to change some things to suit your own needs and playstyle.