Video Slots Symbols and Features Explained
If you have ever played classic slots, you should know that the symbols you can land on the reels include plums, cherries, lemons, BARs, Lucky 777s, and pretty much that’s it. Contemporary video slots are a whole different story or better yet, a whole different universe. Apart from being feature-packed, they also boast intriguing themes. More often than not, video slots are based on TV shows, comic books, movies, or they are inspired by the Ancient Egypt, Roman Gladiators, Greek or Norse mythology, wildlife, sports events, history, Asian traditions… the list is endless. You just have to pick a theme you consider fascinating and push the SPIN button.
Paylines are the number of winning combinations a video slot has. The most basic slots have 10 paylines. Slots with 20-25 paylines are considered the industry standard nowadays, although slots with 50, 243 or 1024 ways to win are not rare either.
Win both ways – the majority of slots pay left to right only, but those that pay both ways pay left to right and right to left, which increases your chances of landing a win by a significant margin.
We also consider it relevant to mention that right now, the Megaways slots are the hottest video slots trend, and they give you more than 117,000 ways to win.
Depending on the slot you pick, you might be able to select the number of active paylines (adjustable), or bet on all paylines the slot has (slot with fixed paylines).
The A to 10 royals usually represent the low-value symbols. To figure out the premium symbols of the slot you picked, refer to the CorrectCasinos reviews or to the paytable of the slot itself.
The must-have symbols a great percentage of the contemporary video slots possess are wild, scatter, multiplier, and a bonus symbol.
The wild is mainly known for its symbol replacement function. A wild randomly comes into play and substitutes a low-value symbol(s) to help you secure a better win. The wilds come in several flavours:
Expanding wilds – the expanding wilds expand to cover an entire reel. To trigger the expanding wilds, you need to land a certain number of wilds in one spin/ on specific reels/ on adjacent paylines, etc. The purpose of the expanding wilds is to help you land a better win by creating more winning combinations.
Stacked wilds – the stacked wilds pop up on top of each other. As a result, a whole section of wilds can be created on the same reels. The stacked wilds can immensely increase your chance of landing a massive win as they may pass through multiple paylines. The wilds can be stacked either horizontally or vertically.
Sticky wilds – the sticky wilds are the most straightforward out of all wild variations. If you land a wild, and it becomes sticky, it remains locked in place for some time (the next spin, the duration of the free spins, the bonus round, etc.)
Overlay wilds – the overlay wilds randomly take over standard symbols. Video slots with overlay wilds are not very common, but if you want to see how they work in practice, go to a NetEnt casino and choose the Guns’n Roses slot.
The coin size allows slots players to adjust the bet to an amount they are comfortable with. The denominations start as low as 0.01
Cascading reels, Avalanche, Cluster Pays, Tumbling Reels, Swooping Reels
In our humble opinion, these terms can be used interchangeably. These are just different names for the cascading reels mechanics.
Every time you form a winning combination, comprised of 3, 4, 5, etc symbols, the symbols that form the winning “cluster” disappear. The empty spaces are filled with other symbols that may form yet another winning cluster. Technically, the cascading reels mechanics gives you the chance to score an unlimited number of wins in one spin.
The scatter is the only symbol the wild cannot replace. The scatter is usually your ticket to the free spins round.
This feature requires no introduction. Multipliers can boost your winnings x5, x10, x20, x50, x100, etc. times.
If bonus symbols appear on the reels, you enter the bonus round. Some slots have separate paytables for the winnings generated during a bonus round.
Slots may have low, low-medium, medium, medium-high, and high volatility. In brief, volatility is how likely it is to land a win from a video slot.
Low and low-med variance slots pay often, but in the best-case scenario, you can win 400x-500x your stake.
Medium variance video slots are the happy medium between the reasonable risk and decent payouts. High variance slots are feature-rich, and if you happen to trigger a bonus round, you may expect a fantastic payout. Beware that these bonus rounds are not always easy to trigger. You should not expect a high variance slot to grind a few pounds per every spin, either.
RTP stands for “return to player percentage”. The RTP determines the amount a slot will give back to players in the long term. For example, if the slot you would like to play has a 92% RTP, it will give back £92 per every £100 deposited. We would like to emphasise that the RTP is estimated over hundreds (if not thousands) of spins. If you make ten £10 bets, you will not necessarily win £92 back.
The industry standard is 96% RTP or so. Anything below 95% is considered low. Keep in mind that some casinos lower the default RTP to cover the expenses for operating on regulated markets.
To enter the free spins round, you need to land a certain number of scatters in one spin. Once you use up the free spins, you are taken back to the base game.
Not all video slots have a re-trigger option. If scatters appear during the free spins round, you may re-trigger the free spins feature
During re-spins, some reels remain locked in place while others re-spin, so you can eventually land a winning combination.
Buy Free Spins
The Buy Free Spins is a feature that gained popularity in 2019. Some players mockingly compare the use of the “Buy Free Spins” to placing a big bet on a low volatility slot. Others think of it as a useful tool for entering the bonus rounds.
As mentioned above, you need to land a certain number of scatters to trigger the free spins feature. If the Lady Luck smiles on you, you can achieve that in 5 spins. However, it may take hundreds of spins to activate the free spins round. To save yourself the long wait, you may take advantage of the Buy Free Spins feature and trigger the free spins immediately. On the downside, the feature comes with a pretty hefty price tag in the range 70-100 times your stake.
The Gamble feature is suitable for players looking for a huge adrenaline rush. The Gamble feature is activated after a winning spin. You need to decide whether to keep the winnings generated after the last spin or gamble them. In case you choose the latter option, you will either double your winnings or lose them to the last penny.
Some video slots come with a jackpot feature. Jackpots can be fixed – you land an N number of symbols in one spin, and win the jackpot amount, or progressive – there is no limit how big the jackpot can become before someone wins it.
Popular Video Slot Makers
Every renowned provider of online casino solutions specialises in developing niche slots. Even if you do not see studio’s logo when loading a slot, you will be able to tell that a certain set of features belongs to the titles, developed by the provider X.
NetEnt – NetEnt started as a Swedish game studio and quickly set foot on other markets. Today, NetEnt is one of the most recognisable video slot makers, associated with the stunning images and sound effects it integrates.
NetEnt has recently focused on releasing low variance slots – an approach that appealed to casual players and annoyed high rollers. That being said, NetEnt’s portfolio is large enough and you will surely find at least ten titles that match your criteria of coin size, theme, volatility, and payout.
Big Time Gaming (BTG) – BTG used to be associated primarily with Bonanza – a slot with crazy high volatility. However, back in 2018, BTG patented the Megaways game mechanics, which gave it the green light to conquering the online gambling sector. Today, some of the best Megaways slots are a BTG creation. What’s more, a handful of game studios got BTG’s nod to releasing slots under the Megaways license with Blueprint being the most active licensee churning out Megaways slots on a regular basis.
Microgaming – Microgaming was founded at the dawn of the online gambling development. It would not be excessive to say that Microgaming is the software provider many studios learned from. Today, it releases video slots with pretty straightforward gameplay. They often feature 243 paylines.
Novomatic – Novomatic is known as the king of the high volatility slots. Some of its best known titles include Book of Ra Deluxe, Sizzling Hot Deluxe, Dolphin’s Pearl Deluxe. We recommend you to play Novomatic video slots only at licensed casinos such as LeoVegas.
There are providers of online casino solutions that are yet to create a distinctive slots feature and build their reputation around it. Red Tiger, Quickspin, Thunderkick, are all new studios that keep pushing the boundaries. Each slot they release outshines the previous in terms of graphics, gameplay, and payouts.
Most Played Slots Ever
Playing video slots might seem like a piece of cake, but if you choose a random title without taking into account the above recommendations, chances are that you will end up with a little to no win. To avoid bankroll damage, set a budget and stick to it. We advise you to stop when you are ahead. Last but not least, never underestimate slot’s volatility, especially if you have to clear bonus wagering requirements.