In an incredibly niche bit of awareness-raising, a modder named Stellar7Project (opens in new tab) has put together a far-reaching mod for The Witcher 3 that, if nothing else, will definitely make your next playthrough a lot different than the ones before it. Long Covid Mode for The Witcher 3 (opens in new tab) gives Geralt, well, long Covid, turning “real Long Covid symptoms into in-game effects” and generally making the entire game into a big, long, arduous experience.
The mod is a “pro-bono piece of work for Long COVID Europe,” says the creator in its description, “created to shed light on how an estimated 65+ million Long COVID patients worldwide are living life on a whole new level of difficulty”.
It’s a profoundly detailed bit of work, too, as unusual as it is. Geralt’s long Covid symptoms (a sentence I can’t say I ever imagined having to write) proceed through four stages as his “Exertion Level”—a new addition to his inventory screen—grows.
It starts off at EX1 (Fatigue), negatively affecting Geralt’s movement speed and little else, and goes all the way up to “Post-Exertional Malaise” or PEM. At that point, the White Wolf’s stamina regeneration is 20% of its peak capacity, his health is decreased by over half, his lung capacity and digestion work at quarter efficiency, and trying to use his Witcher senses triggers something resembling a blackout. You’ll also start randomly dropping inventory items as Geralt’s memory fails him, and end up waking up early or late from meditation as he loses track of time.
It’s honestly pretty harrowing. I confess when I first saw the mod, I was ready to talk about it as a curiosity, one of those strange projects like the Fallout 4 mod that obliterates you (opens in new tab) before the game can start, but it’s safe to say Long Covid Mode has done its job as far as I’m concerned. Mods for The Witcher 3 still seem like an odd way to build public awareness, but Stellar7Project says it’s “aimed at those who are unaware of these conditions and how difficult life can be with them,” and I guess I have to admit it’s worked on me.
If, for whatever reason, you want to give a long Covid playthrough of The Witcher 3 a try, you’ll need either a 1.31 or 1.32 version of The Wild Hunt or the GOTY edition of the game. The next-gen version isn’t supported. If you’ve got that, it’s just a matter of using the Nexus Mod Manager to install it, or if you’re dead-set on doing it manually, you can extract its bin folder into The Witcher 3’s root directory and then put everything in the modsLongCovid folder into its mods directory. And then, uh, enjoy?