Life simulation game The Sims 4 lets players indulge in a plethora of enjoyable fantasies, such as owning your own home, having a fulfilling job, and being in a caring relationship with someone who loves you. However, once you are done revelling in these daydreams, it can be fun to give yourself a challenge.
Sims fans have invented a ton of challenges to spice up the sandbox, coming up with sets of themed, self-imposed rules to make your game fresh and interesting — and your Sims’ lives way more difficult. Practically every challenge has variations as well, so you can mix and match a ruleset that best suits how you want to play.
These challenges make The Sims’ typically gentle gameplay harder, but also a lot more satisfying. Building a mansion is fun, but it’s even more enjoyable when you’ve watched your Sim suffer for every simoleon going into it.
Here are some of the best Sims challenges to help make your digital dolls’ lives hell.
1. The Rags to Riches Challenge
One of the most enjoyable and well-known Sims challenges, the Rags to Riches Challenge is exactly what it sounds like. Start out with a single Sim on an empty lot, without any friends or a simoleon to their name, and work your way up to having a home, a family, and every comfort a Sim could wish for.
Of course, this challenge isn’t as easy as simply getting a job and saving up. There are certain self-imposed criteria that must be met before each such milestone, though how tough they are depends on what ruleset you follow. You could need to pay a 500 simoleon job application fee before you start your career, or you could need to build a whole house in order to provide your employer with a home address. Either way, you’ll probably be doing a lot of couchsurfing.
The Rags to Riches challenge has been around long enough that there are a variety of different rulesets, letting you pick and choose whichever combination of limitations best suits how you want to play. Your Sims may be miserable, but you don’t have to be.
2. The Black Widow Challenge
Are you really playing The Sims if you aren’t indulging in some good old fashioned murder? No. You are not. In the Black Widow (or Widower) Challenge, your goal is to meet a special someone, have a whirlwind romance, get married — then get caught having an affair and kill your new spouse for their simoleons.
It isn’t enough to commit one murder and quietly live out the rest of your days in modest comfort, though. A Black Widow needs to feed, and won’t be satisfied without at least 10 headstones under their belt. Fortunately, your unfaithfulness means there should already be an unsuspecting fly stuck in your web, the next link in your daisy chain of dead spouses.
The Black Widow challenge doesn’t let you have a job, as matricide is a lucrative career when conducted correctly, and you can’t seduce someone who’s already married since you won’t get their money. Other than that, how you trap and dispose of your hapless paramours is largely up to your own Machiavellian designs.
3. The Legacy Challenge
The Legacy Challenge is slightly similar to the Rags to Riches Challenge in that you begin with a single, relatively impoverished Sim. However, instead of scrounging around to survive with absolutely nothing to your name, you’re building a dynasty spanning 10 generations.
Working your way up from humble beginnings, the aim of the Legacy Challenge is to build a family, accumulate wealth, then pass it down to your children. They’ll then do the same, passing it down to their children, who’ll pass it to their children, and so on. This means you get to follow a single family for years, and see how your early decisions end up influencing your great grandchildren’s lives.
You aren’t allowed to create any Sims other than your family’s first founder, which makes who you marry and how you raise your children very important. You also can’t turn off ageing or restart if things don’t turn out how you like — just like real life.
It doesn’t matter if you accidentally burn the house down or your kids turn out to be jerks. You’re just going to have to play the Sims you’re dealt.
4. The 100 Baby Challenge
Another well-known Sims challenge, the goal of the 100 Baby Challenge is to have 100 babies in as few generations as possible. This would be absolutely awful in real life and I would not recommend anyone ever do this, for the sake of their mental health and uterine structural integrity. Fortunately, Sims aren’t afflicted with the same physical limitations that restrain us.
You start with one Sim for this challenge, and pop out as many kids as you can as quickly as possible (all from different fathers, of course). Then, when you’re no longer of childbearing age, you pass your baby-factory duties down to your eldest daughter. She continues the horrific family tradition, passing it on until 100 new Sims have been born.
The 100 Baby Challenge isn’t just about procreating, though. You also have to figure out what to do with all these kids once you’ve had them. You aren’t allowed to give them to social services or otherwise dispose of them, which means you have to raise your spawn until they’re old enough to move out. You can’t hire a nanny either, so things will probably get very chaotic very quickly.
5. The Disney Princess Challenge
If Disney’s live-action adaptations disappointed you, orchestrating modern remakes in The Sims could help soothe your nostalgia. The Disney Princess Challenge is a generational challenge that has each new generation emulate the story of a different Disney heroine.
The first generation starts with the first Disney princess Snow White, who must have seven children with seven different negative traits. Once these kids grow up, one of them becomes Cinderella. They take care of the house and can’t marry until their mother dies, with one of their children becoming the ambitious foodie Tiana. This continues down the generations, going from Aurora to Anna to Rapunzel to Belle.
This challenge is for Sims players who enjoy telling stories with their Sims. Rather than aiming for a specific goal, the Disney Princess Challenge provides a structure players can use to weave a narrative. The rules also give you a lot of latitude, allowing you to embellish and explore your ersatz fairytale characters.
6. The Decades Challenge
The Decades Challenge also has you play through the generations, following a single family as it grows. The twist is that you have to live as though it’s the 1890s at the start, with all the technological and social restrictions this entails.
This means that your first generation can’t use electricity, can’t have indoor toilets, and are only allowed to marry within their ethnicity. Your Sims will then move into the 1900s with the next generation, granting them indoor plumbing, electric lighting, and jobs — though only for men.
Each generation adds a decade, going through the 1910s and World War I (male Sims are randomly killed off), the 1930s and Great Depression (everyone loses their jobs), and the Sexual Revolution and Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s (gay and interracial relationships are allowed). Your Sims even become Y2K preppers in the 1990s, recreating the retrospectively quaint panic surrounding the Millennium bug.
7. The Bachelor/Bachelorette Challenge
Love is already a game, but the Bachelor/Bachelorette Challenge lets you make it a game inside a game (assuming you believe reality shows like The Bachelor deal in actual love rather than lust and spectacle).
In this challenge you create a household of eight single, unrelated Sims, with one of them your designated Bachelor or Bachelorette. You then have everyone get to know them, going on dates and group outings, before eliminating the Sim who’s the least compatible with your Bachelor(ette) every three days. The whole thing ends with a marriage proposal, which I’m sure will result in a healthy and long-lasting relationship.
Technically the rules of this challenge require you to move a Sim out of the house once they’re eliminated, exiled from the love shack and never to return. It’d probably be more fun to put a Black Widow spin on it, though.
8. The Truman Show Challenge
The Sims is already very Truman Show-like in many ways, positioning you as an omnipotent director conducting your unsuspecting Sims’ lives. The Truman Show Challenge takes this a step further, allowing you to control everyone in your game except the titular “Truman.”
In this challenge you have to raise a Sim from infancy, ensuring they do well in school, get a job, make friends, and get married. All pretty standard Sim stuff. What isn’t standard is that you aren’t allowed to control your Sim directly, and can only influence what they do through their interactions with others. This means you have to play around your Sim’s free will.
You win if your Sim accumulates 100,000 simoleons before dying of old age, never realising that their entire life was a carefully orchestrated reality show, all the people around them were actors, and they had never experienced real love. The whole scenario is admittedly morally questionable, but what is The Sims for if not experimenting with ethical boundaries?
There are a heap of other Sims challenges to choose from if none of these strike your fancy, or you could even make up your own. Just don’t feel obligated to stick to any rules if you find them more annoying than fun. Sometimes you just need a good old fashioned drowning.
UPDATE: Nov. 29, 2023, 5:18 p.m. AEDT This article was originally published in Oct. 2020, and has since been updated in Nov. 2023.