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Puzzles & Survival: Complete Guide to Nova & Research Lab

If you’re confused about what Nova does in Puzzles & Survival, let alone how to get her, don’t worry. We’ll be going over everything you need to know about Nova, how to unlock her, what her skills do, and all the upgrades you can get for her in the Research Center.

Let’s get started.

If you haven’t come from there, visit our navigational page or comprehensive guide in the orange card below to find everything you need to know to succeed in this game.

What is Nova in Puzzles & Survival?

Nova is your companion who was bit and infected at the start of the game. You’ll spend the beginning of the game completing quests to get enough of the experimental Antiviriusine to cure her.

Upon doing so, she awakens with no memory of her previous life but has become some strange advanced robot super human (it’s really unclear). More importantly, she provides incredibly powerful buffs to everything you do in the game.

How to Unlock and Get Nova

But first, let’s go over how to get access to Nova and unlock her first level. As mentioned above, you need multiple doses of Antiviriusine to cure her. You can only get Antiviriusine from completing the chapter story quests that appear in the bottom-left of your screen.

These quests introduce you to all the major mechanics of Puzzles & Survival and serve as a tutorial to the game. Each time you complete a full set of quests, you’ll receive some Antiviriusine.

For the most part, these quests are very intuitive and you’ll complete them all simply by playing the game regularly. However, we are going to make a note about the quests centered around resource buildings.

In order to complete all the chapter story quests, you’ll need to construct a specific number of certain buildings. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t give you much warning, nor is it a very efficient/recommended layout.

We went over the most efficient base layout in our Buildings guide, but we’ll repeat what you need to do to make sure you can get access to Nova without any hassle!

  • Build 2 Farms and level them up to Level 2 to complete one of the chapter quests.
  • Demolish 1 Farm (tap on it and tap the hammer in the top left corner, do free removal).
  • Build 1 Lumber Mill, Infirmary, and Bootcamp.
  • Build 4 Virology Labs, upgrade two of them to Level 8 and two of them to Level 6.
  • Once you unlock Nova/finish the tutorial, demolish all but 1 of the Virology Labs.
  • Fill the rest of the plots of land with what you want or with the most efficient setup in our Buildings guide.

The majority of the other missions consist of slowly upgrading your Sanctuary, defeating zombies in the overworld, and progressing through the Campaign. If you’re having trouble with any of those parts, we suggest checking out the rest of our mega guide on them!

Benefits & Skills of Nova

Once you unlock access Nova and get her first level, you’ll gain access to passive buffs that are always active. The strengthen of these buffs are determined by the level of her skills.

Nova’s skills are broken up into Military and Economy. As the names suggest, these focus on increasing your troops’ stats and your Sanctuary’s economy respectively. While playing the game, you’ll steadily obtain Nova military/economy points from items and events.

You’ll be able to invest these points in her skill and steadily increase their effects. To no one’s surprise, the point cost to level up her skills will increase exponentially each time. Make sure to prioritize skills that synergize with what you’re focusing on. It’d be silly to increase your Fighters’ stats if you’re optimizing for a Shooter focused playstyle.

However, you’ll need to level up Nova herself first in order to unlock most of these skills. Her level will also determine the level cap on her skills, so make sure you keep strengthening Nova!

How to Level Up Nova in Puzzles & Survival

You can obtain Nova EXP from multiple sources. We’ll list them in order of where you’ll primarily/reliably get them from.

  • Opening supply boxes from defeating zombie lairs
  • The Ruins exchange shop
  • The Pit’s Rare Earth exchange shop
  • Common event reward
  • Daily interactions with Nova
  • Occasional Mystery Shop bundle (costs diamonds)
  • Arena’s Hero-Glory (the top 1000) shop

Once you obtain these Nova EXP items, simply go into your Bag, tap on the Gadget tab, and scroll until you see them. Feel free them to use the EXP items immediately, as there’s no event tied to them.

Economy Points and Skills

Boost the economy of your Sanctuary.
Bolster the efficiency of your Sanctuary. | Image: 37 Games via HGG / Jeffrey Hsu

For Economy points, you can largely get them from the same sources as Nova EXP. Thanks to that, you’ll often have a generous surplus of them, which is really nice since all of Nova’s Economy skills are really useful.

However, you’ll still want to spend those Economy points wisely to get the maximum value out of them. We suggest focusing on steel/gas gathering, march/training speed, and troop armor.

Steel and gas are easily your biggest resource hurdles once you reach the higher levels. Trust us when we say you’ll be gathering them almost exclusively later on. As for march speed, it might seem a bit weird at first. However, being able to secure strategic locations faster than others is invaluable and allows you to outmaneuver opponents during battles as well.

When you first start off, training speed might seem unnecessary. However, any experienced player will attest to how long it takes to train a full batch of troops at higher tiers. Being able to spend less speed-ups will drastically help you during training events, which tend to have easier reward milestones for completion.

Troop armor is the really odd one out. This skill feels like it should be under the Military skill category, but it was probably classified as an Economy skill for balance purposes. Reducing the damage your troops take during battles effectively boosts their defense/health and can help secure you victory.

If you choose to invest some Economy points in the other skills, feel free to. They’re all beneficial and will come in use at some point. The above are just our recommendations for what we consider to be the most impactful.

Military Points and Skills

Bolster the strength of your troops.
Strengthen your forces and take back the wasteland. | Image: 37 Games via HGG / Jeffrey Hsu

Unfortunately, Military points are quite a bit harder to obtain than Economy points. You’ll only be able to reliably obtain them from events. When given the opportunity to choose between Military or Economy points, always choose Military points.

Given how limited Military points are, you’ll absolutely want to ensure you’re maximizing their value. Focus on skills that boost your troop specialization, overall troop strength, and troop size.

For example, it’d be foolish to spend points on skills tied to Fighters if your strongest troop formations and upgrades are specialized for Shooters. Skills that affect all troops provide a little bit less value per point spent, but there are times when you need to deploy troop types other than your specialized type.

Being able to increase your troop size is always valuable. There are only a couple ways to effectively increase it, and that particular skill is probably the easiest method. When you eventually gain access to troop damage, make sure to heavily invest in it. A direct damage boost is comparable to doubling your troops’ ATK.

While we don’t really recommend spreading out your Military points, you may want to if you want to make more progress in the Ruins for the Nova challenge. Even small upgrades to the skills governing your non-specialized troops can make the difference in clearing another floor.

Tips & Tricks for Points

Occasionally Reset Nova’s Skills

The Modifying Kit can reset one of Nova's skills to level one.
Pricey but worth it. | Image: 37 Games via HGG / Jeffrey Hsu

As you level up your Research Lab, you’ll reduce the point cost of each skill. In other words, if you level up the Research Lab then reset one of Nova’s skills, you’ll get more points back then you initially put in.

You can get a Modifying Kit (reset item) from your alliance shop (under the gadget tab), but they’re rather pricey and cost 100,000 alliance coins per item. We recommend doing this only occasionally when you’ve upgraded the Research Lab a lot.

Spend Your Point Items Only During Events

While completing some activities will directly deposit Military/Economy points into your available pool, most activities will instead give the points to use as an item in your bag (under the gadget tab).

Hold off on using these point items until a Nova point event is active. If you stockpile these items for a while, you can cash them all in during an event and make large chunks of progress towards the reward milestones.

Daily Interactions with Nova

Depending on the level of your Research Lab, you’ll have X number of daily interactions with Nova via the Affinity/Praise/Gift options. Doing so will give you a useful item (breakdown below). There’s a cooldown of 5 minutes between each interaction.

  • Affinity – Gives you a random amount of Nova EXP
  • Praise – Gives you a random amount of military/economy points (recommended)
  • Gift – Completely random reward. Gain points, resources, or speed-ups (not recommended due to low amounts)

Attire & Outfits for Nova

You’ve probably noticed that Nova has the option of a couple different outfits. Equipping one on her with give all your troops a +10% stat bonus across the board.

However, the problem lies in obtaining one. All of them are tied to events and can only realistically be obtained by spending real money or hoarding event currency for 1-2 years. Some might be obtainable for free if you’re incredibly strong and can top an event’s rankings, but this is rather infeasible for most players.

If you manage to get one of them, make sure to equip it on Nova. It doesn’t matter which one, as they all give the same buff. Though the Bride outfit only lasts for a certain amount of time before expiring.

Bioenhancers for Nova

Bioenhancers are another feature of Nova, where you can equip her with various augments to provide more passive stats to your troops. You won’t be able to reliably obtain bioenhancers until you unlock the Prison Trial feature of the Campaign. This requires fully completing the campaign once.

Once you have access to the Prison Trial and begin clearing it, you’ll start obtaining bioenhancer fragments directly and points to exchange for them. You can fuse these fragments together to form a new bioenhancer or use them to level up existing ones.

Thankfully, if you get a better bioenhancer, you can always use your old weaker one as EXP fodder for the better one. Feel free to level up your equipped bioenhancers without hesitation. You can buy Organ Stimulant (which is the EXP item for bioenhancers) from the exchange shop in the Prison Trial, but we recommend saving that currency for a far more valuable item that’ll we cover below.

Bioenhancer Research

This is where you can research new bioenhancers for Nova.
Keep saving up. It’ll be worth it in the end. | Image: 37 Games via HGG / Jeffrey Hsu

There is also a research center for bioenhancers. By spending Bioenhance Schemes, you can obtain random Bioenhancers and fragments. What makes this particularly good is that you can even get the highest quality (Apex) bioenhancers from this if you’re lucky.

There’s even a progression bar that grants you extra rewards for doing enough research. Just note that this bar resets every couple days (timer is the topr-right). With that in mind, we strongly recommend just stockpiling Schemes until you have 270 of them. That way, when you spend them (on the 10x option), you’ll be able to claim a guaranteed Apex-tier bioenhancer.

Your main source of Schemes will be from trading in the Prison Trial currency in its exchange shop. You can also buy a couple with diamonds from Bard’s shop inside a Prison Trial. On rare occasion, they’ll even be available as a reward from events.

However, as is the case with the Nova points event, we recommend waiting until there is a bioenhancer event to spend all your hard-earned Schemes. The rewards are incredibly nice, and it takes a while to stockpile Schemes.

Join the High Ground

You should now know everything you need to know about Nova in Puzzles & Survival. Invest wisely in her, and your base will reap massive benefits! If you have any more questions, let us know in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

Make sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter and check out our mega guide to everything in Puzzles & Survival.

Good luck out there commanders!


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