If you’re already an online slot fanatic, you’re almost certainly aware that certain symbols perform different actions or activate bonus rounds and mini games. There are so many types of special symbols within games these days, but one of the most common types is wilds.
Wild symbols are icons which appear on the reels and can substitute for any other symbol, to create a winning combination. However, wilds have progressed so far from their humble beginnings and nowadays they have become one of the main features in a slot game. In addition to helping players create wins, they now perform a number of different functions and can appear in all sorts of variations.
This is because software developers are always trying to find new and innovative ways to make their slots stand out from the crowd. In today’s guide we’re looking at some of the most common types of wild you’re likely to come across whilst playing slots, their benefits and how they impact gameplay.
What Are Wilds?
As mentioned above, wilds are a symbol which may appear on the reels in a slot game and that will substitute for other symbols, in order to help you land a winning combination. They’re a highly exciting symbol to come across, as they are one of the most helpful symbols in any slot game.
Regular slot players know how important wilds can be and software developers know how much we love them. Because of this, in recent years we’ve seen wilds transform from simply helpful to absolutely game changing. Games designers have added different functions to wilds, as well as making sure they are plenty in every slot game they create — let’s be honest, if you heard a game didn’t have a wild symbol, would you even play it?
New types of wilds are certainly a good thing, however they can be a little confusing at first. Software designers are always assuming we know exactly what they mean when they say ‘sticky’ or ‘stacked’ or ‘rolling’, but the truth is that more often than not, we have no idea what will happen until we play. Luckily for you, however, we’ve put together this list of the most common wild features you will find in slot games, and what benefits they bring.
As the name suggests, stacked wilds are when wild symbols appear on top of one another to create a section of wilds in the same reel. This type of wild is increasingly common, and it’s very helpful for players. As the wilds now take up a whole section of the reels, it vastly increases a player’s chance of creating a winning combination, as it means that any payline that passes through this cluster is likely to be a winner.
In general, stacked wilds appear vertically across a single reel, however they are some new slots which may offer horizontally stacked wilds. This doesn’t change how useful they are as they still create more chances of finding a winning payline. Stacked wilds may also appear on every reel of the slot game or only on specific reels. For instance, some games may specify that stacked wilds will only appear on reels 2, 3 and 4, whilst others may allow them to fall wherever.
Expanding wilds are often heralded as some of the most exciting types of wilds around. When they were first created, they revolutionized the way slots players valued wild symbols, and these days they can be found in plenty of different slots.
Expanding wilds basically do what as the name implies, they expand to the size of a whole reel. This feature can sometimes be triggered by meeting certain requirements, for instance finding two wilds together, or in some games wilds may expand every time they land on the reels. Like stacked wilds, expanding wilds are helpful to players as they create a full reel of wilds, making creating a winning combination much easier. As every payline will pass through all the reels, it’s very likely that the wilds will be put to good use.
One of the most popular games with expanding wilds has to be Starburst by NetEnt. In this game, the expanding wilds are the only bonus feature but, due to their ability to create wins, players flock to the slot. There are also new variations of the expanding wild, which can be found in games like Spinata Grande, where the wild expands to a 3×3 sized symbol instead of covering the whole reel.
Like the other types of wilds mentioned in this guide, sticky wilds are fairly self explanatory when you consider the name. A sticky wild feature allows wilds to stay in place for more than one spin. In addition, some games with sticky wilds may allow players to re-spin the reels, with the wild in place, for free. Sticky wilds are also sometimes referred to as ‘frozen’ wilds too.
Unlike the types of wilds mentioned above, sticky wilds will not increase your chances of creating a winning payline anymore than a regular wild would. However, players will benefit from having a wild on the reels for more than one spin, thus creating more chances of winning over several spins.
Wild overlays are quite a recent invention and they are when the wild will appear stacked in a certain shape. The shape can land anywhere on the reels to take over the other symbols. They are usually an extra bonus feature, as opposed to simply a type of wild and may occur at the end of a spin or randomly throughout the game.
Wild overlays are extremely useful, as the different shape may mean that you are covering many payline options. For instance, in NetEnt’s Guns ‘N’ Roses, the wild overlay is designed in the shape of a cross. As the shape means that wilds run horizontally and vertically, it creates tons of chances for players to land a big win. The downside to wild overlays, however, is that they often can land either fully or partially on the reels. This means that you’re never sure of how many wilds you will benefit from.