Sims are much harder to kill in The Sims 4, the latest edition of EA's famous people simulator. Oh, but they can die. It just requires a bit more tact on the player's part. If you've been having a hard time tormenting your virtual pets, here are some tips to help you help them shuffle off their mortal coil.

Know Your Enemy

When it comes to committing murder, The Sims 4 may appear tricky at first glance. But don't get discouraged. This is still a video game. At the end of the day, your Sims are pixellated avatars like any other. They live like video game characters. And they die like video game characters.

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Killing Sims isn't as simple as walking up to some zombie and shooting it in the face, though, which is where the challenge comes in. There must be a specific cause of death for a Sim to croak, and "being shot in the face" isn't one of them. Since EA removed swimming pools in The Sims 4, the fan-favorite practice of removing ladders and leaving Sims to drown is no longer an option either.

Learn Your Sims' Weaknesses, Then Exploit Them

At present, there are ten different causes of death in The Sims 4. Seven are "natural" causes, and three come about from the game's newfangled emotions. In order to kill a Sim, therefore, you must bring about a situation that produces one of these causes-of-death. Let's attack each in turn.

Burn Your Sims Alive

Setting a Sim ablaze is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get away with murder—but only once you've got a proper fire going. That's the tricky part, and may require some finagling in build mode. If your Sim has a very low cooking skill, try pointing them towards their oven and telling them to cook a complicated recipe. Another, arguably sounder methods involves tampering with a house's fireplace. Direct your Sim to build a fire, then switch over to build mode and fill the surrounding area with combustible material—chairs, rugs, anything that looks like it shouldn't be there.

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Both of these methods ultimately come down to chance. So if you keep having trouble, remember to keep trying to set your house up in the least disaster-proof way imaginable. Try thinking to yourself: "Is this close enough to the exact opposite of what a household safety manual would recommend?" If the answer is "yes," then you're on the right track.

Send Them On a Botched Space Expedition

One of the main career paths you can send your Sims down in The Sims 4 is to become an astronaut. Little do they know, its also one of the easiest ways to send them to their doom. Once you've reached a high enough level in the astronaut career, you can then construct a "Steampunk Flyamajig" in your Sim's lot and set them to building their very own rocket ship. Once you've done all that and have your rocket ship ready to go, there are two ways to prime Sims for death. First, you can direct a Sim to race with the rocket ship. If the Sim has a low enough rocket science skill, they'll most likely end up crashing the rocket ship. Alternatively, you could also stick a piece of fruit in the rocket ship's exhaust pipe using a given Sim's mischief abilities.

Technically, death-by-rocket-ship is the same thing as death-by-immolation, since crashing the rocket ship only kills Sims by setting them on fire.

Electrocute Them. Twice.

Awesome screenshot via SimsVIP

Frying your Sims is proving more trouble than its worth? Well, maybe its time to try zapping them like the little bugs that they are. Plop a few electrical appliances into your household and wait for one of them to break. This shouldn't take long if you use them as intended more than a few times. Once, say, the boombox starts smoking and shooting off sparks, direct your Sim to repair it. As with death by fire, this method only works with Sims that have a very low Handiness skill level. If they do, they'll likely end up shocking themselves when trying to repair the faulty appliance. That will put the Sim in a "Singed" state, as indicated by his or her moodlet. If you direct the Sim to attempt another repair while still singed, a second shock will be enough to push them over the edge.

Starve Them

Depriving Sims of food might sound like one of the easiest ways to force them to bite the bullet. And it is, in a way. But it also requires unlearning some of the basic principles of playing The Sims in a properly tidy, doll-house sort of way. Alleviating hunger is one of the first thing every Sims player learns when trying to make their virtual pets happy. Imposing it isn't as simple as forgetting to feed a Sim. To properly starve a Sim to death, you have to gate them off in such a way that they have no way to access food. An easy way to do this is by sticking them in a room, and then removing all the doors so they're physically incapable of leaving.

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Then, you just have to wait. And wait. And maintain the steely resolve that you've developed as the kind of soulless human being who can just sit back and laugh maniacally as your Sims slowly waste away—alone, hungry, and afraid.

God, this game is morbid sometimes.

Sacrifice Them At The Unholy Altar Of The Cow Plant

The Laganaphyllis Simnovorii might look like a docile combination of bovine and flora. But behind its cool exterior lies a savage beast, just waiting to strike and swallow some helpless Sim whole. All you need to do to accelerate the process is abstain from feeding the cow plant. Once the plant gets hungry, it will try to lure unsuspecting Sims towards it with a cake-shaped piece of bait. If you're controlling a Sim in this situation, you'll be presented with two options: "Feed The Cow Plant," or "Eat The Cake." You know what to do.

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As with death-by-rocket-ship, death-by-cow-plant requires you to first unlock some advanced stuff. In order to gain access to the Cow Plant, you need to first develop your gardening skill and find some cow plant berries. The former is just a matter of practice and leveling up as you would with any skill in The Sims 4. Berries can be found in a few specific ways:

  • By fishing, either in the backwaters of the Oasis Springs Park or in the waters of the Forgotten Grotto. The Forgotten Grotto is one of the game's secret locations, so if you're having trouble finding it check back in with our tips.
  • By exploring space.
  • When digging for treasures.
  • By combining specific plant types.

Fishing is by far the easiest method. Except for just cheating, I guess.

Push Them Over The Edge With Too Much Physical Activity

Just like real people with muscles and souls and more of an innate sense of when to get to the bathroom (well, sometimes), Sims lose a lot of their stamina when they enter into their autumn years. If you tell an elderly Sim to exercise or have sex, therefore, they'll often end up with a "Dangerously Tired" moodlet that lasts for four hours of Sim time. Ordering them to do more strenuous activity when they're already in this precarious state is a good way to push them over the edge, poor old geezers that they are. Little do they know that you, the cruel master of their world, is the closest thing they have to a Lifeline medical alert system.

Hit 'Em Where It Hurts: In The Feelings

Screenshot via SimsCommunity

Remember the feeling you had when you accidentally emailed that batch of...personal images to your boss instead of your significant other or romantic partner? That you wanted to crawl into a little ball and die? Well, your Sims can feel that way, too. The only difference is: they actually will die. EA wasn't kidding when they said that emotions can kill you this time around. There are three different mood groups that can prove deadly for Sims: Embarrassment, Anger, and Hysteria.

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Killing Sims this way isn't as simple as just pissing them off, however. Each emotion in the Sims is further divided into four different intensity levels. Anger is broken down into "Angry," "Very Angry," "Furious," and "Enraged," for instance, while embarrassment is "Embarrassed, Very Embarrassed, Humiliated and Mortified."

To actually kill a Sim, you have to keep them at the highest level of that emotion for a good chunk of time. This can be tricky, because Sims are fickle, unpredictable beings. The best way to ensure a Sim kicks the bucket is to keep close track of their mood once they reach a heightened emotional state and make sure to stop them if they try to do anything to alleviate it. When a Sim is in a particular mood and you toggle over him or her, certain actions will pop up that are colored in the same hue as the mood (light blue for flirty, yellow for embarrassed, etc.). Performing any of these actions is the quickest and easiest way to alleviate or repair a Sim's mood. So if you're trying to keep rubbing the Sim the wrong way instead, just try to do the opposite of what the game is suggesting you do. If your Sim hates children and thus gets enraged at the sight of them, for instance, trap them in a room with a bunch of screaming infants.

Get The Job Done The Old Fashioned Way: With Age

Ok. Let's say that you've plumbed the deepest, most morbid depths of The Sims 4 and still aren't satisfied with all the ways you've discovered you can torment your poor Sims. Well, here's one final suggestion: play The Sims 4 normally for a Sim's entire life. Build them a big, beautiful house and help them foster a family inside it. Nudge them along their desired career paths, indulge their hobbies, help them realize their wildest dreams. And then, sit back and watch as they inexorably wind their way into old age and, ultimately, death's embrace.

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I know what you're thinking: disgusting, right? They'll never know what hit 'em!

If All Else Fails, Start Using Cheats

I've mentioned this a few times already, but killing Sims is hard in The Sims 4, even by the series' admittedly wonky standards. Pretty much every method I outlined above requires a fair amount of planning, tactfulness, and patience. If brooding over your Sims as they struggle to die makes you feel uncomfortable, or if you just prefer your video game deaths be more immediate, there are a few cheat codes that will help put them in a state that's more prone to death. If you need help figuring out how to input cheat codes, check out our handy round-up of the most helpful Sims 4 cheats. And again: bear in mind that these cheats don't actually kill your Sims for you. They just make them more kill-able, as it were:

  • "sims.add_buff buff_death_electrocution_warning" —Equips a sim with a buff that will make him/her prone to dying while fixing an appliance; have the sim repair something electronic to trigger death
  • "sims.add_buff buff_Mortified" —Equips a sim with the mortified moodlet/buff that will make him/her prone to dying from embarrassment
  • "sims.add_buff buff_Enraged" —Equips a sim with the enraged moodlet/buff that will make him/her prone to dying from anger
  • "sims.add_buff buff_Hysterical" —Equips a sim with the hysterical moodlet/buff that will make him/her prone to dying from hysteria
  • "sims.add_buff hunger_Starving" —Pretty much a guaranteed death within 24 hours; sims will die of hunger

And Remember: You Can Also Bring A Sim Back To Life

Phew. Well, that was a lot of death for a single article. Let's end on a somewhat lighter note, shall we?

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After you're done wreaking havoc on your Sims, you might find yourself full of regret. Don't be embarrassed, that's a perfectly normal reaction to losing something you love. And man, do these new Sims know how to tug at the heartstrings. So if you find yourself missing a Sim more than you expected, fear not: there's a way to bring them back, and not just in zombie form!

Of course, there are always cheats to help you cheat death as well. But here's one way to do it while playing by the rules that I discovered thanks to SimsVIP. All you need is a Sim who's a writer. Then, follow these steps:

  • Level up the Sim's writing skill to 10.
  • Complete the "Bestselling Author" Aspiration
  • Have the Sim write "The Book of Life," which will be available as a command when clicking on a computer.
  • After finishing the book, click on it when controlling its author and select the "Capture Epic Saga" option. Then select the Sim you want to preserve. This Sim must be nearby, so I recommend keeping the Book of Life in the author Sim's inventory. Also, you must capture the Epic Saga of a Sim before he or she dies for the next step to work.
  • Once the Sim whose epic saga has been captured dies, click on the book again and select the "Summon" option.

Ok, now that we've got that out of the way I can finally take a break from tormenting all my poor Sims and go back to loving them like the caring, hapless imaginary parent that I am. But I'm still curious: what's your favorite way to kill a Sim? Let us know about your favorite virtual lifehacks (or deathhacks, I guess?) in the comments below.

Illustration by Jim Cooke

To contact the author of this post, write to yannick.lejacq@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq.