The most popular online casino games, occupying between 80% and 90% of the game selection at most casinos, are video slots. These are slots with a focus on the visual, with advanced graphics, as well as exciting bonus features. Made primarily for entertainment purposes, the video slots suit all kinds of players, and there are no skills required to successfully play the games.
There are no real rules about the number of paylines a video slot should have, although between 20 and 25 lines used to be the norm. These lines usually crisscross over the reels, and you'll normally need to get three of the same symbols in a line to win. Most video slots only pay out if you get a winning combination starting from the left of the game. Yet, some also have paylines that start from the right, which allows you to win from both sides of the game.
A few online slots even let you win no matter which wheel the winning combination starts on, as long as you have at least three adjoining symbols on the payline. In fact, the paylines are something that newer video slots are starting to move away from. In some of the modern slot machines, it’s enough for the symbols to land anywhere on adjacent reels to create a win. With many symbols per wheel, this can give you hundreds of thousands of possible winning combinations. Winning with clusters of the same symbol is also possible.
In short, only the game developer’s imagination determines how you can and can’t win when you’re playing a video slot.
With thousands upon thousands of different video slots on the market, game providers are constantly trying to outdo each other with bonus features and other innovative aspects of the games. Every week 10-20 new video slots are released at most of the big online casinos, so the selection keeps growing. Standing out from the crowd is no easy feat, which is why we are seeing a constant flow of new features, or a mix of features, that has never been seen before in a slot.
Symbols that stick, walk, change, explode, or expand. Wins that are multiplied, topped-up, or frozen. Bonus games with free spins, pick & click, or jackpots. No matter which combination of bonus features you’re after, there is a slot that has it. Actually, one could almost say that the “normal” wins that come from the pay lines in a slot are the least interesting part of these games, as it’s all about the video slots’ bonus features.
Let’s delve into some of the more common bonus features you might find in an online video slot.
The symbols on the reels appear stacked, meaning you get more of the same symbol occurring at the same time, which can give you bigger wins with more winning combinations.
The bonus symbols in a game, typically wild symbols, can be walking, falling, or moving around the reels in other ways. This usually also happens in combination with re-spins.
These are symbols that land in a certain position on a wheel and then expand to cover more than just that spot. Frequently, an expanding symbol will cover the entire reel it lands on.
If a symbol is sticky, it will stay in whatever position it lands in through your remaining free spins or re-spins. In quite a few video slots, all winning symbols will be sticky. When you get a re-spin that fails to build on the winning combination, this bonus feature will typically end.
If you get re-spins, you’ll get extra spins for free. This usually happens along with another bonus feature, such as expanding or moving symbols. If the slot has falling symbols, you’ll get re-falls, where the symbols you win with disappear and new symbols replace them, creating new chances to win.
Multipliers give you bigger wins. They usually happen in combination with other bonus features, but they can also be something you get from a symbol like a wild. Getting a winning combination with this type of symbol will multiply your winnings by the number shown on the symbol. The most common multipliers are x2 or x3, but some video slots have multipliers of up to x30, or even more.
The most common type of bonus round you can trigger in a video slot is Free Spins. These are spins you get to play for free as a part of the game round that triggered the bonus, but spinning for free isn’t the only benefit you’ll generally get. Along with the free spins, you’ll often get other bonus features. These can be re-spins, expanding symbols, bigger symbols, sticky symbols, or basically any other possibility that exists in terms of bonus features. Quite often, you’ll also be playing with a multiplier activated, and this will enable you to get far bigger wins than you can in the game’s normal mode.
Another common bonus round feature is Pick & Click. You’ll get a set number of symbols, and by picking them, you get a prize. Sometimes you can keep picking symbols until you hit a “collect” or empty symbol, and at other times, you’ll have a set number of picks. You can also get these bonus games in combination with free spins, so you may be able to pick bonus features before you get to spin for free. Bonus rounds can also appear as different games, but what’s almost always true is that these bonus games are the ones where you have the best chances of getting a big win in the slot.
In most video slots, the normal symbols are the ones you actually win with, meaning the ones you can see in the paytable, and a win connected to these, depends on the number you get in a winning combination. In addition to these symbols, there are also special symbols. The most common of these is a wild symbol. Wilds are symbols that can replace other symbols in the game, which means you can get a win even if you don’t have the required number of normal symbols. This is why wilds are often considered the best symbols in a video slot.
Another special symbol you’ll often see is a scatter. This is a symbol that isn’t bound by any pay line; it can give a win no matter where it’s placed. Scatters are normally also bonus symbols, and these symbols can trigger a bonus round, such as free spins. Usually, you’ll need three scatters to start a bonus round, but getting more scatters can also give you an extra boost, such as additional choices for a pick and click game or more free spins.
The whole point of having bonus games and bonus features in a slot is to create bigger wins. Unlike in classic slots, in a video slot, you can win tens of thousands of times your bet, and in some video slots, even hundreds of thousands of times your bet. This is usually something you can do when you enter the bonus game, such as the free spins game rounds, as that’s where all the best bonus features in a video slot usually are.
The wins from pay lines are also bigger than in a classic slot, and that means video slots are quite often very volatile. Since you can win a lot from a single payline win, it also means you might win less than your bet on a payline. In short, the size of the wins you get will usually vary more in a video slot than in a classic slot.
It’s not only the volatility of the normal slot features in the main game that decides the overall volatility of the game, as the different bonus games within the slot can also have different volatilities. In some video slots, you’re almost certain to have a big-ish win whenever you trigger a bonus game, while other slots will give you either a huge win or almost nothing. In the long run, it all evens out, but you might have to play millions of spins before you can start talking about some kind of average win.
Something that’s becoming more common in video slots nowadays is the possibility to buy the bonus feature. This allows you to start the bonus round, without waiting for it to be triggered by itself in the game. But beware, as buying the bonus game usually costs somewhere in the ballpark of 100x your bet.
Considering that buying a bonus costs around 100x your bet, this is far from cheap. However, it also says something about how much a bonus game can actually pay out. If you’re lucky, you can be in for a massive win. But, you can also be unlucky, and win next to nothing. So buying bonus round after bonus round is extremely volatile, and many players have found out the hard way that it can be a quick way to play through their bankrolls.
You should always keep in mind that the game provider won’t “sell” a bonus round with a loss, so the average win from a bonus round will always be less than what you paid for it. Then again, it’s all up to luck, just like all other spins you do on a video slot.
With hundreds of new video slots being released every year, there will naturally always be some turnover week by week in the top lists that show the most popular games. But certain video slots are almost always in the top lists of the best online slots, year after year. These are player favourites, and they’re games that every new slot player should try. Here are some of the all-time most played video slots at online casinos:
In Gonzo’s Quest from NetEnt, you’ll get to experience falling symbols, re-falls, multipliers, and free falls. If you’re really lucky, you can win over and over again in the same game round with a multiplier that can get as high as x5 in the game’s normal mode and as high as x15 in the bonus round, which consists of free spins. With a multiplier of x15, a good combination can give you a win of tens of thousands of times your bet!
Another player-favourite from NetEnt is Starburst. The only bonus feature you’ll find is an expanding wild symbol that also triggers a re-spin, and if you’re lucky, you can cover the three middle reels entirely with wilds. This feature gets even better because Starburst pays from both sides of the game, which doubles your chances of winning on each and every spin!
Play’n GO’s most popular video slot is Book of Dead. In this game, you want to land three books because this will trigger free spins with a randomly selected special symbol. When this symbol lands on a reel, it will expand to cover the entire reel, and it will also be transformed into a scatter symbol. With a bit of luck, you can cover all the reels with the same symbol and generate a massive win!
There’s no such thing as the very best video slot. Most slots like these have an RTP (Return To Player) of 95% to 98%, so your long-term chances of winning are almost the same, no matter which one you choose. The volatility of the game will be a bigger factor in which game suits you the best, and this again depends on what kind of a player you are. High rollers will normally prefer highly volatile games since these are the ones that can give the biggest wins, while casual players might prefer less volatile games so that the wins come more frequently.
Your bonus features preference is also a big deciding factor. Most players simply find some features more entertaining and exciting than others, so finding the video slot that has all the features you like the best should perhaps be step one. To help you out, several online casinos have a search filter in the casino lobby where you can choose which features you like the best, which will allow you to only see the video slots that match your preferences.
Also, make sure you read some of the slot reviews right here at GoodLuckMate to determine whether the game will suit you. Trying the slot for free can also be smart, so you know exactly how the game works before you start betting your own money. To play video slots for free, all you have to do is sign up at the casino in order to verify that you’re 18 years or older. Once logged in, you’ll be able to play demo games for free.