The Sims, now in its fourth installment, has allowed us to play out our most wholesome, weirdest, and wildest fantasies in life for over two decades now. Not many simulation games are as popular or as enduring, even as new tech continues to develop and gaming publishers churn out new titles every year.
In fact, Electronic Arts (EA), the company that publishes The Sims, reported the sixth straight year of franchise growth in 2021.
Part of the magic is how the game provides players so much freedom over their sims’ lives. We all have one life, but in The Sims, you can live thousands — whether you prefer designing buildings, giving makeovers to different characters, or breaking the hearts of everyone in your neighborhood.
In Windenburg, I can be a well-respected lawyer with a hidden kleptomaniac trait, living in my Tudor-style home alongside my three dogs and less-than-legally obtained artwork. And this is without any of the interesting (and sometimes violent) mods the community has made over the years.
But The Sims 4 is not done growing. This year, the game is set to usher in further updates and additional content, like a new Game Pack, more Kits, and new community collaborations.
Indeed, EA is a company that likes to check in with its fan community, and then build based on what they learn. One key example is last year’s introduction of Scenarios, described as “goal-based stories within the game where a player’s choice impacts the outcome.” And so far, they’ve rolled out six of these: Making Money, Finding Love After A Breakup, Too Many Toddlers, Perfectly Well Rounded, Surviving the Holidays, and New Year, New Hustle.
Scenarios are based on a practice many a Simmer has tried out in the past: challenges. For the uninformed, players have been designing and imposing their own challenges since the very first The Sims title in 2000. These “games within the game” have certain rules and goals that make The Sims more interesting and provide players with something specific to work towards.
One can argue that community-grown innovations like these challenges are behind The Sims’ enduring popularity. So if you’d like to spice up your regular gameplay, try and see how well you’d do with these popular Sims 4 challenges.
The theme is a simple rags-to-riches story. Your main goal is to start a legacy with only one Sim and close to nothing. You complete the challenge when you’ve spawned ten generations enjoying the wealth and success you’ve inspired.
Here are the rules broken down into simple steps:
- Create a Sim. They will be your legacy’s “founder.” Pick any trait, aspiration, and features you want, BUT they must be a young adult and a one-person household.
- Move your Sim into an empty lot (50×50 or bigger). Your Legacy family can’t move lots.
- You can’t use cheats, restart after bad events (these are part of your legacy), change aspirations, or be resurrected from the dead.
Simply put, the Legacy Challenge is much like what we’re all trying to figure out in real life without any hacks: What kind of legacy do you want to leave, and how do you go about doing that?
The Legacy Challenge is one of the most well-loved in the community, and over the years, several simmers have managed to put their own spin on it.
Differences in the Family Tree Challenge
A challenge that’s been around since The Sims 3, the Differences in the Family Tree (DITFT) Challenge was adapted for The Sims 4 in 2015. In it, each of seven generations has different objectives to meet in terms of skill mastery, career, and relationships.
The objectives across these generations are varied and detailed, which keeps things interesting. But more importantly, the challenge encourages you to play through all the different features and quirks in the game than you would normally experience in your usual gameplay.
Not So Berry Challenge
Similar to the DITFT, the Not So Berry Challenge adds its own twist to the original Legacy Challenge by providing creative goals for each generation in order for simmers to enjoy aspects of the game they might have never explored before.
Created by Lilsimsie and Alwaysimming, the challenge lays out ten different generations marked by a certain bright color, which should be present in their hair, makeup, clothing, or any combination of these. And aside from having specific skill, career, and relationship goals, the challenge also provides certain traits for each generation.
The resulting combinations can be pretty unique. For instance, how often would you play with a genius, dance-loving sim who’s worked the Fast Food, Doctor, and Entertainer careers if not for the Plum generation?
Random Legacy Challenge
“If formulaic challenge strategy bores you and long-term thinking bogs you down,” writes challenge creator Tigger89, “this is the challenge for you!”
The Random Legacy Challenge is exactly what it sounds like: It invites players to use a randomizer like random.org or even old-school RPG dice to decide factors like careers, marriages, and number of children for each of the 10 generations you’ll play through the challenge. In this way, no two Random Legacies are ever the same, and you’ll get to enjoy whatever life — or the dice — gives you.
History buffs will enjoy this challenge. In it, simmers are invited to trace the history of humans, from the prehistoric era to present times. Doing so can make the game lengthy, but also a lot of fun. It’s also pretty fulfilling once you make it to the end.
Your goal is to make your first generation of Sims survive the timeline of humans. In the beginning, you’ll be limited by the resources and abilities available. For instance, the earlier abodes you’ll design won’t have any electricity or running water! But, you can equip your ancestral Sims with cute leopard print outfits and bone necklaces.
Here are some of the most important History Challenge rules to guide you:
- Randomly select Aspirations except for the Ancestors (your first two Sims).
- Stick to one lot from the prehistoric era to the modern era. You can move out some Sims, but they can’t come back to the household.
- Only spouses or potential mates are allowed to move into the household.
- You can’t alter the age of the Sims or use cheats to modify the game.
There are more specific goals to achieve, too, such as:
- Reach level 10 in every skill at least once.
- Earn 250,000 simoleons during a single era.
- Complete each aspiration at least once.
However, if you’d rather not go all the way to prehistoric times, there’s an alternative historical challenge for you.
Created in 2015, the Decades Challenge takes you only as far back as the 1890s. The rules are pretty straightforward, too: There’s a certain set of conditions you have to live with depending on the era you’re playing.
For example, everyone loses their jobs in the 1930s because of the Great Depression. From there, you transition into a new decade every time your family’s first child ages up into young adulthood.
The rules have been further developed over the years and the arrival of additional content like Expansion Packs and Game Packs.
100 Baby Challenge
Here’s another classic challenge for your Sim: Give birth to 100 babies. Luckily, virtual characters can withstand the physical challenge of a hundred pregnancies and deliveries more than any real-life human body.
The rules are pretty simple:
- Create a Sim who will become the matriarch. There are no rules as to what traits or aspirations you can use and they can have any gender you want, so long as they are able to get pregnant in the game.
- Find many partners to have babies with until you get to a hundred. You can only have one baby with each partner.
There are also some other smaller guidelines to think about, mostly in relation to keeping your matriarch going as the household fills up (after all, you can only have up to eight sims in each household). There’s even an optional custom aspiration mod you can give your matriarch for some extra fun and rewards.
Over the years, other variations of the 100 Baby Challenge were made. For instance, some play in a different life state, such as vampires with special appearances and abilities. You’re free to customize your matriarch, so long as they get to a hundred children!
Black Widow Challenge
Another fun game-within-a-game where you can play as a female Sim is the Black Widow Challenge. Nope, it’s not about becoming Scarlett Johansson (although that’s a challenge you can do, too). Instead, the goal is to assume the trope of a Black Widow, or a woman who kills her lovers.
To play, here’s what you need to do:
- Create a female Sim with a jealous trait and move her into a pre-existing starter home.
- Find a suitable spouse and build a relationship. It’s ideal if you can find a rich partner, since your goal is to become wealthy off of your deceased spouses.
- Cheat on your current partner and kill them for a replacement. The main goal is to have five ghosts of husbands past living in your mansion.
Some versions of the game give you specific scenarios to play out. A fun one to try is to get caught cheating at a party you host in your mansion. Then, you still have to continue this cycle until you get to five innocent victims. Meanwhile, for those who don’t like actually killing sims, you can try the Gold Digger Challenge instead!
The good thing about these challenges is that they allow you to not only experience game features and storylines you may not usually take on, but they also let you play towards fun goals in a game that’s mostly open-ended. So if the freedom of playing in The Sims 4 and its different packs can be a bit overwhelming for you, then challenges like those listed here can give you a clearer direction.
Plus, because they’re fan-made, you can definitely add your own spin to them depending on what packs you own or what you feel like doing, as long as you’re having fun. You can even share your own version of these challenges, so long as you credit the original creators! And today, there are dozens of challenges — as well as a few official Scenarios — for you to do just that.