How to Beat Plague Inc.

Plague Inc on a smartphone.

Emilija Manevska/Moment/Getty

Plague Inc. is a free-to-play simulation game that lets you design a deadly pandemic and unleash it on the world. It starts with bacteria, and moves on from there to viruses, prions, and even nanotechnology.

If you want to beat Plague Inc., you need to master all of the possible transmission, symptom, and ability upgrades, map out a path to victory, and pit yourself against the scientists of the world as they race for a cure.

How Does Plague Inc. Work?

Plague Inc. uses a highly realistic infection models to simulate the spread of a disease around the world. The models are so realistic, in fact, that the developers were invited to give a presentation to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Screenshot of Plague inc. showing different types of plagues to choose from.

You start the game by creating and naming a disease, and choosing where it will start. The game then models the spread of the disease in its original country, and then to new countries via land, air, and plane travel.

As you play, you tap orange bubbles to represent the spread of the disease within a country, red bubbles to represent the spread of the disease to new countries, and blue bubbles to represent progress on a cure. Red and orange bubbles provide you with DNA points, and blue bubbles prevent work on a cure from speeding up.

You also gain DNA points as your disease spreads, and you can use them to evolve new transmission methods, symptoms, and abilities. Your disease will sometimes also mutate brand new symptoms.

The game is free to play on Android and iOS, and there is also an enhanced version called Plague Inc. Evolved for PC.

Keys to Winning Plague Inc.

The key to beating Plague Inc. is to build your disease up to epic proportions while flying under the radar. You can still win if you go heavy on the symptoms early on, and some symptoms even help spread your disease, but tipping your hand like that gives the scientists of the world a lot more time to find a cure.

Screenshot of winning at Plague Inc.

Here are the basic steps to follow if you want to stack the deck in your favor:

  1. Devolve all randomly evolved symptoms while you spread.
  2. Pop orange and red bubbles as soon as they appear to rack up more DNA points.
  3. Spend DNA points on transmission with these general priorities:
    1. Air and water transmission - increase the speed at which your bacteria spreads.
    2. Extreme Bioaerosol - greatly increases your spread effectiveness.
  4. Spend DNA points on abilities with these general priorities:
    1. Cold resistance - this can be key to cracking Greenland before it closes its ports, so prioritize Cold Resist 2.
    2. Heat resistance - this can also be required to breaking into some of the hotter countries, but you can sometimes get away with just Heat Resist 1.
  5. Wait for the entire planet to become infected while continuing to devolve symptoms.
  6. When the entire planet is infected, choose any symptom you like and build toward Total Organ Failure.
  7. Make sure to pop any blue bubbles to slow down progress on a cure.
  8. Spend remaining DNA points on abilities to slow down cure research if necessary.

There's a lot of room for improvisation, and you may enjoy experimenting with other transmission methods, like rodents, especially if you have trouble getting your pathogen into certain areas.

How to Beat Plague Inc. Bacteria on Normal Difficulty

The same basic strategies can help you win Plague Inc. on any mode or difficulty, but we're going to show you exactly how to beat the versatile Bacteria mode on normal difficulty.

The game can throw some curve balls at you in the form of randomized events, so this is a good way to get a feel for the game and chalk up your first win.

Start a New Game on Bacteria Mode With Normal Difficulty

The first step is to fire up a brand new game on Bacteria mode and choose normal difficulty. You'll also have to name your disease before you can get started.

Start Plague Inc. on Bacteria Normal difficulty.
  1. Launch Plague Inc.
  2. Tap Start new game.
  3. Tap Bacteria.
  4. Tap Normal.
  5. Enter a name for your disease, and tap the arrow.

Choose South Africa For Your Starting Country and Start Spreading

You can beat Plague Inc. from any starting country, but South Africa gives you a good head start. Saudi Arabia is also a good starting country due to its location near the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa.

More developed nations are tougher nuts to crack, due to the presence of advanced medicine. It may be tempting to start in a location that's hard to spread into, like Greenland, but that also makes for a tougher game.

Start Plague Inc. in South Africa or Saudi Arabia for an easy win, or challenge yourself with a different country.

Here's how to get started in South Africa in Plague Inc.

  1. Tap South Africa.
  2. Tap the play button bubble that points to South Africa.
  3. You will see a message that your disease has infected patient zero. Tap the X to clear this message.
  4. Tap any orange bubbles that appear.
  5. Tap any red bubbles that appear.
  6. Keep an eye on your DNA points.

Spend DNA Points On Transmission and Abilities

You can start spending DNA points whenever you want, as long as you spend them on the right things. If you want to skate your way into an easy victory, don't buy symptoms early on, even if they're good at helping the spread of a disease. This will help you fly under the radar.

Screenshot of Plague Inc

You can approach this any way you want, but you'll have an excellent chance of winning if you follow this basic buy order:

  1. When you have about 33 DNA points:
    1. Evolve Air 1, Water 1, and Water 2
  2. When you have about 50 more DNA points:
    1. Evolve Air 2, Drug Resist 1, and Drug Resist 2
  3. When you have about 46 more DNA points:
    1. Evolve Extreme Bioaerosol, Cold Resist 1, Cold Resist 2, and Heat Resist 1.

Devolve Any Symptoms As They Arise

Sometimes you get lucky, and your disease will randomly evolve a symptom. This gives you a free symptom that you don't have to spend DNA points on, but it also runs counter to the strategy of flying under the radar. You can roll the dice, or you can play it safe and devolve them as they come.

An example of devolving symptoms in Plague Inc.

Here's how to devolve a symptom:

  1. Tap the X to clear the message about the symptom.
  2. Tap Disease.
  3. Tap on the new symptom.
  4. Tap Devolve.

Some symptoms will help the spread of your disease without calling too much attention to the pandemic, so you may want to leave them in place. This is a big chance to take though, so you're usually better off just devolving and taking the free DNA points.

If you're close to total worldwide infection, and you luck into a good symptom, you can consider keeping it. Just be ready to pump some extra DNA points into abilities that will slow down progress on the cure if you tip your hand too early.

Wait For Total Infection, Then Become Deadly

The whole idea behind this strategy is to spread across the whole world, and then strike. So you'll want to keep a close eye on the spread of your disease while popping red and orange bubbles for free DNA points. Once you infect the final healthy person in the work, it's time to move.

A Plague Inc screen allowing you to choose a symptom.

Ideally, you'll want to go directly from no symptoms to extremely deadly symptoms. You can choose a symptom and start building as soon as you finish infecting the whole world, but you'll have better luck taking the scientists of the world by surprise if you have enough DNA points to buy all the way to Total Organ Failure all at once.

You can start at whichever symptom you like, but some symptoms come with deadlier side-effects than others.

  1. Tap Disease.
  2. Tap Symptoms.
  3. Choose a symptom, tap it, and tap Evolve.
  4. Continue choosing new symptoms that are progressively closer to the center of the grid, until you reach Total Organ Failure.
  5. Tap the X to return to the game.
  6. Tap any blue bubbles that appear to slow down research.
  7. If research on the cure is proceeding too quickly, spend any remaining DNA points on Genetic ReShuffle.

At this point, it's a race between your deadly pandemic and the scientists of the world. As soon as people start dying, countries around the world will start funding research, and you'll notice blue bubbles show up on the map. Pop these bubbles to keep the scientists from speeding up their progress on the cure.

If you see the research progressing too quickly for comfort, remember that you can evolve some abilities that are capable of stymieing the best efforts of the scientists.

Evolve Genetic Hardening early on to slow research progress, or Genetic ReShuffle to increase the amount of research the scientists need to do. Every time you evolve a new step in Genetic ReShuffle, progress on the cure will drop significantly.

If you made your disease deadly enough, and keep on top of the cure, you'll record your first win in Plague Inc. as soon as the population of the world drops to zero.