A Player’s Guide to Online Slot Features and Win Effect!

JamesSquad Blog

Article updated 1st October 2018

We’ve come a long way since fruit machines and lining up bell symbols to win money down at the arcade. These days it’s all about online casinos and online slots. We can play games with much bigger pay tables, jackpots and multiple ways to win.

In this article, it’s the multiple ways to win that we’ll be talking about. It’s the additional layers of software that makes a game worth playing. It’s all about the features. Because apart from the jackpot, this is where your biggest wins will most likely come from.

We’re going to look at some of the more common online slot features, and also the more lucrative. I’ll talk about how they work, mention examples of slots that use them and we’ll talk about the win effect associated with each one.

So without further ado, I give you 12 online slot features that might just make your game!

1. Wilds
2. Random Wilds
3. Expanding Wilds & Stacked Wilds
4. Random Features
5. Free Spins
6. Re-spins
7. Multipliers
8. Pick and Win Bonuses
9. Game Modes
10. Gamble Feature
11. Bonus Levels
12. Betting Strategies

What can features do for your game?
Slot features can improve your game by creating further situations to win. Features can add weight to win lines, increase your odds and make gameplay more enjoyable.

1. Wilds

Our journey into the world of online slot features begins with the Wild symbol. Almost every game uses them, but why are they so important?

So what exactly is the Wild symbol? The Wild Symbol is the most common feature you’ll come across when playing slots. It’s what we call the substitute symbol. Without the Wild, slots would be painstakingly ordinary, and payouts would be minimal.

The Wild Chase Online Slot

Wilds will often substitute for all other symbols apart from the bonus symbols. By this we mean they’ll help generate wins in positions that you wouldn’t normally expect to find a win.

Imagine you have a jack symbol, a wild and another jack symbol appear on a pay line. The Wild will become a jack so you’ll win the prize for 3 x jack symbols.

Not only can Wild’s be helpful in generating wins, but it’s also normally the highest paying symbol in the game and therefore the jackpot if you manage to fill a full pay line with Wilds!

Slotsquad Win Effect Scale = Moderate

2. Random Wilds

Like normal Wilds, Random Wilds do the same job and generate wins through substitution only they’re random. That’s right; they can appear at any time and not just on the reels. By that, I mean that some slot developers include additional means to add to their Random Wilds.

Random Wilds were created to make online slots more exciting. They can appear at the top of reels, appear from the side and often within bonus games.

In the Orient Express slot from Yggdrasil Gaming, Random Wilds take the form of Walking Wilds, granting free spins and moving across to the adjacent reel and granting further re-spins.

Wilds can move across the reels in the Orient Express Slot

Make no mistake; Random Wilds are not just Wilds. They’re powerful functions that add suspense to gameplay and value to wins they help formulate.

Slotsquad Win Effect Scale = Moderate

3. Expanding Wilds & Stacked Wilds

As the name suggests, Stacked Wilds appear on top of each other whereas Expanding Wilds can grow to cover entire reels. You’re getting the same deal as with normal Wilds, but covering more surface area of the reels.

You can hit more pay lines with Stacked Wilds and Expanding Wilds, and that makes them attractive. Stacked Wilds can appear vertically or horizontally and increase your chances of winning whenever they’re in play.

These types of Wilds cover lots of reel space, and that means more chances of winning!

The NetEnt Copy Cats slot uses the Stacked Wild to great effect. If you get a full Stacked Wild covering all positions on reel 1, it will activate a Copy Cat Expanding Wild that spreads across all reels.

Copy Cats is one of the best examples of using Stacked and Expanding Wilds in the base game. But in a nutshell, these Wilds are the most effective of the Wild symbol family.

Slotsquad Win Effect Scale = High

4. Random Features

Random slot features are the opposite of bonus game features. Slots with random features will introduce winning functions and don’t need 3 x bonus symbols for them to trigger, they just happen.

Random features can either appear in the base game or a separate game above the base game i:e a bonus level. Some of the most popular slots and exciting games use Random features because it makes for better gameplay.

You just don’t know when they’re going to happen.

They can take the form of free spins, pick and win, Wilds or even multipliers. Random features are prizes that you don’t see coming and can be rewarding.

NetEnt Blood Suckers 2 includes a Random Slot Feature with a Crossbow

One good example of a slot with random features is Blood Suckers 2 from NetEnt. It’s an impressive game that uses “Scatter Shots and Bonus Shots” within the base game. A character located to the left of the reels can randomly fire symbols onto the reels using a crossbow. Sounds dangerous, but this is one of the best random features I’ve ever seen.

Slotsquad Win Effect Scale = High

5. Free Spins

The free spins feature is one of the most common features found in online slots. It’s also potentially the most worthwhile. Slots with free spins features will often use a scatter symbol to trigger a designated number of free spins.

Free spin games can be simple while others more complicated, often using multipliers and re-triggers to increase the rewards. If you’re going to come across big wins and mega wins when you’re playing online slots, it’s normally in the free spins bonus.

Another interesting fact is that some slots add further weight to free spin games by using extra Wild symbols. Yes back to the Wilds again, but they’re useful because as you know, they form winning combinations. If you’ve got 10 free spins, they can make all the difference.

Some of the best slots with free spin features include Tetris Super Jackpots. In this game there isn’t a predetermined number of free games, the bonus just continues until all of the Tetris blocks have run their course. Your prize accumulates while this is happening.

The Free Games Bonus in Tetris Super Jackpots Offers Many Free Spins

Other slots can offer ten free games or 20 free games. The more scatter symbols that trigger the bonus, then the more free spins you’ll win.

In the Sea Hunter slot from Play’N Go, you can win just 1 free spin with an explosive guaranteed win that is multiplied by 15. It just goes to show, it’s not always about how many free spins you’ve won, But how effective those spins can become.

Slotsquad Win Effect Scale = Very High

6. Re-spins

Online slots with respins prove popular because of the second chance that these games can offer. Unlike free spins in which the whole reel set will move, respins work by locking some reels in place and allowing others to move. Therefore creating another chance of lining up winning symbols.

But that’s not the best thing about slot respins; the best thing is that they’re free and when they happen, there’s no extra betting cost. Think of the respin feature as the hold function that you find on fruit machines, only the online slot makes the decision on which reel or reels hold.

Respins present you with a second chance, often without having to bet again. It’s a free spin, but sometimes with symbols remaining in place. A bit like the hold feature when playing fruit machines.

Some slot respin bonuses are simple, one reel will hold and the other four will respin. But others are more complex, using Extra Wilds, Stacked Wilds and Multipliers to improve the payout power of the game.

A couple of examples of slots that use respins include Spina Colada and Joker Pro. In the Spina Colada slot, winning lines will freeze keeping those symbols in play while the other reels spin. Not only is this a brilliant feature, but the bonus continues until wins finish. You can also fill consecutive columns from the left to multiply your win.

Joker Pro has one of the best online slot respins features

In Joker Pro, you can experience a combination of Wild reels and hot spots that make up one of the best respin games you can find. Another strength of the respins game in Joker Pro is that you only need 1 x scatter symbol to activate the feature. Still not sold? How about one or more additional wilds landing on the reels during a Joker Pro respin? Yes, they award another Joker Pro respin.

That’s the beauty of online slots with respin features. For the cost of one bet, you can get multiple outcomes. And in cases, more than just one respin for the price of just one spin.

Slotsquad Win Effect Scale = Moderate

7. Multipliers

What’s better than winning £3.00 for getting 3 x melon symbols? £15.00 for winning 3 x melon symbols! That’s right; the multiplier slots feature. It does exactly what it says on the tin. We like it and so do games developers. But how does the multiplier feature work?

First of all, Multipliers don’t just happen at the end of a free spins bonus. Granted, that’s where they’re most common, but they can multiply winnings at different points in the game. Including the base game and in different gaming modes. But most exciting of all, slot multipliers don’t just have to multiply once, they can sometimes multiply on multiple times, confusing but rewarding.

A win of £12.00 would equal
with a 15 x multiplier!

It’s this growth potential that makes multipliers one of the most fruitful of all online slots features.

Let’s look quickly at some slot games with multipliers. In Valley of the Gods by Yggdrasil, players collect Scarab Beatles to unlock multipliers. What’s cool is that for every 5 Scarab Beatles collected, you increase the multiplier by 1 and can keep collecting Beatles. In Valley of the Gods, it’s not easy to get multipliers, but they’re effective when you’ve got them in play.

The Play’N Go Sea Hunter Slot is another example of a game that uses multipliers to great effect. Here it’s all about random multipliers with up to 15 times growth on your winnings. Hit six consecutive wins, and you’ll activate a multiplier mortar that blows up fish along with any prize money in the area. Yes, it’s cool.

Play'N Go Sea Hunter Slot with its Multiplier Mortar Cannon

Another of my favourite multiplier slots has to be Jungle Spirit: Call of the Wild from NetEnt. Not only does this slot have fantastic gameplay, but there’s a 50 x multiplier in the free spins round on a pay table that offers 1,024 ways to win. Jungle Spirit: Call of the Wild has one of the strongest of all multipliers when used in conjunction with a slot bonus round.

Slotsquad Win Effect Scale = Very High

8. Pick and Win Bonuses

Who doesn’t like a pick and win? It’s the mystery; it’s the suspense, it’s simply not knowing. Online slots with pick and win features offer some of the most compelling bonus games around. It’s not just about winning a fixed prize either! Some pick and win bonuses offer multipliers, free spins and access to levels with even greater prizes.

But be warned, some slot developers use the pick and win features as full stops in bonus games. For example, you could choose the wrong item and end the feature.

Pick and Win Free Spins and Multipliers in Halloween Fortune

Playtech Halloween Fortune uses three charming witches to represent its pick and win software that offers free spins. But there’s more; you get another pick and win of potions that can multiply wins from those free spins. Halloween Fortune is an example of using a pick and win bonus on multiple levels. I honestly believe that this spooky slot has one of the best pick and win bonuses around.

Blood Suckers 2 from NetEnt is another online slot with a top pick and win feature example. In a game with vampires and demons, this treasure hunting game is both creepy and rewarding. It’s called the Hidden Treasure Bonus Game, it’s got five levels, and coin wins can be doubled or tripled throughout. Still not impressed? Make it all the way, and there’s a great treasure win of 1000 coins multiplied by the bet level. But watch out, choose a coffin with the Demon in and the bonus ends.

The Pick and Win Bonus in Blood Suckers 2 Features 5 Levels

Pick and Win games are hit and miss, but we like them. It’s all about choice and chance. Rather than reels spinning and symbols falling into place. Pick and Win games offer the player another dimension, there’s scope for big wins and more entertainment than your bog standard online slot.

Slotsquad Win Effect Scale = High

9. Game Modes

I’ve included game modes because we’ve seen some new online slots use different gaming modes. What is it? Instead of using a bonus model that uses different levels within a feature, game modes can change the entire slot itself. Almost like putting two games into one. New slots that use this approach can gain more interest from players and offer more value on gameplay.

The Orient Express Slot includes 4 Game Modes of Play

The Orient Express Slot from Yggdrasil Gaming has game modes down to a fine art. It’s like you’re playing four different slots. Interestingly Orient Express uses different locations to represent the modes of play. I:e you travel on the train to different countries and take advantage of the different features in each place.

NetEnt Planet of the Apes Slot with Dual Reels and Game Modes

Planet of the Apes is another slot that uses different modes of play. Net Entertainment’s dual feature driven game based on the Blockbuster film franchise is pure class. With two sets of reels in Dawn and Rise variants, no other slot feels quite like this one. There’s two pay tables, two lots of features and two games bolted together in one clever idea.

Slotsquad Win Effect Scale = Moderate

10. Gamble Feature

I never understood the gamble feature. It’s like a last ditch effort for the online slot to take victory. If we’re not happy with gambling, gamble some more! Not happy with your win, you could double it? You could also lose everything. Gamble features are common in fruit machines as a way for the player to advance up the pay table or feature trail. Remember, that button would flash and you’d go all out for the next step. Until yes, of course, the light went out.

The gamble feature is one of the fastest ways to lose money when playing online slots. It’s quite simply hit and miss!

I’m not sure if the gamble feature works in online slots, I’m not really sure they deserve to be classed as features. That said, they’re building games with additional gambles so it’s only right they get a mention.

In online slots, the gamble feature nearly always crops up after a win. It normally involves selecting a correct suit from a deck of cards or choosing a higher or lower card value. You can double, triple and even sometimes quadruple a win using a gamble feature. Guess correctly and you win. (Or lose the lot).

In the Moby Dick Slot from Microgaming it really is 50/50. The gamble feature in this game is all about choosing the right cup. Simply left or right. You just need to choose the cup with the tea bag inside it. You can even do this up to 5 times doubling your money all the way. For example, a win of £10.00 could be £20.00, then £40.00, £80.00, £160.00 and ultimately £320.00.

You can gamble your winnings up to 5 times in Microgaming Moby Dick

You can see the appeal, but there’s lots of risk. I see gamble features like this as accelerators for loss if you get things wrong. There are much better features out there that don’t carry such consequences.

Slotsquad Win Effect Scale = Moderate

11. Bonus Levels

If you’re playing online slots, there’s nothing like levels when it comes to bonus features. Developers want to give us more than just rolling reels, often through combining slots with games to generate more purpose for the player. It leads to better gameplay and some of the best new slots use levels to involve us more, generate huge prize potential and make the slot popular.

Big Wins!
Bonus levels offer some of the biggest wins you’re likely to see when playing online slots. Besides the jackpot, it’s progressing through slots with levels that can really pay off!

But be careful, slots with bonus levels can be costly and drive betting stakes high as we chase points and additional features. That’s what makes these type of games so compelling. And while you’re betting more on slots with levels, this type of feature is often the most rewarding second only to the slots jackpot. I’ve graded bonus levels as high on the win effect scale because these slots are capable of big payouts.

One of the best slots with a level feature include Cloud Quest from Play’N Go. This action packed slot combines falling symbols with level up software for a truly interactive experience. The game is made into a mission by allowing players to defeat monsters, gain additional powers and further their conquest of the slots pay table and its rewards.

The Cloud Quest Slot Includes Different Characters and Levels of Rewards

What I like about Cloud Quest is that by levelling up you increase your rank, becoming a more powerful hero that’s able to take on the game for even better features. Play’N Go do levels like no one else, turning basic slot motion into powerful multi-level gaming with lots of pay out potential.

Finn and the Swirly Spin is another online slot with levels. Finn the Leprechaun and his lucky flute is NetEnt’s multi-level concept set against a swirling spiral reel. It’s both clever and addictive. Here NetEnt entices players to collect keys and unlock additional free spin games with different effects.

This key collecting business in Finn and the Swirly Spin takes slots to a whole new level. It takes one key to unlock a Star Bar Free Spins Game while 16 keys to visit the Golden Pot. There’s different locations to interact with, and its keys that will open the door to their features. NetEnt’s take on multiple levels is exciting and can be rewarding.

Slotsquad Win Effect Scale = Very High

12. Betting Strategies

Betting strategies are another way of making slots more interesting. A games payout rate RTP is normally calculated over many cycles of play, but sometimes RTP can be variable. For example players can bet more, cover different amounts of reel space or enhance gameplay by adding improved odds. Sounds impressive, but you’ll normally pay for any improved odds.

It’s still down to luck, chance and your time at the table. Hopefully the right time!

Betting strategies might look and sound clever, but there’s no strong evidence to suggest that they can help. They mix things up a bit, but that’s about it. I recommend that you make your own decisions when it comes to the betting stake!

But what betting strategies do is provide players with automatic adjustment on play. As in you can select a button to try something different. Bet in a different way with a different value against a different pay out rate. (RTP). I think it’s just there to mix things up a big, adding another dimension to the games landscape.

Hong Kong Tower is a slot from Elk Studios that uses betting strategies as part of the games features. It seems very mathematical and scientific, but can it actually help? If it did, why would slot developers use betting strategies. Remember, online slots are not cash points, or they wasn’t the last time I checked.

Slot Betting Strategies Adjust the Betting Stake Automatically on Results

In Hong Kong Tower, you can select Optimizer, Leveller, Booster or Jumper through the betting level adjustments tab. They’re all betting strategies that automatically change your stake depending on the pattern or frequency of loss.

Some of these betting strategies raise after winning, raise after losing or raise after combinations of the two. Often following consecutive winnings or losses. But they don’t automatically reduce the bet to deal with your balance situation. What does that mean? I’d say your safer to make your own decisions.

As for the Slotsquad Win Effect Scale, I won’t even bother for this one.

You’ve seen the features, now play the games!

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