A term referring to a winning round while playing a slot machine.
All You Need To Know About Bonus Features in Online Slots
There was a time when slot games were simple – when you pulled the lever, the reels spun and paid you cash if they aligned – that was all. Sounds boring, right? Thankfully, modern slot machines have evolved a lot with the addition of extra reels, and more importantly, cool bonus features.
These days, if you play any slot game released in the last decade or so, you will encounter a bonus feature, if not two or three. They have become an integral part of the modern video slot experience.
What are these bonus features, and why should you care?
In slot games, bonuses are random events that occur during the game. They are there to enhance the gameplay experience, adding an extra dose of uncertainty. Bonuses are popular because they bring positive change to the game – often giving out gifts or enhancing your chances of winning cash.
Bonus features can come in many different avatars, like free gifts, free extra spins, special bonus rounds, or even changes that happen to reels during a spin. While many occur randomly during your spins, some bonuses are triggered when symbols land in specific patterns or combos on the screen.
Bonuses are awesome because they break up the monotony of endlessly spinning the reels and waiting for a win. They are also great at increasing your win chance. This is why you should always go for slots with bonus rounds. It is no surprise that the most popular slots often have three or four bonus features.
How are bonuses triggered in slots?
All 5-reel video slots have certain special symbols, often based on important characters from the slot story/theme. For example, in Microgaming’s popular Game of Thrones slot, the two special symbols are the Iron Throne and the famous Game of Thrones logo. These symbols will appear randomly on the reels during gameplay.
When they appear two or more times, they have either a “Scatter” or “Wild” effect. These two are the most common bonus game effects found in modern video slots. Let’s examine what they do:
To score a win in a slot, you have to get the symbols arranged in a particular order. But this rule does not apply to a scatter symbol – it is often your best friend in a slot game for this reason.
It just needs to appear anywhere on the reels, often more than once as per the game rules, for you to get bonus features and wins. Microgaming’s Immortal Romance and Netent’s Dead or Alive II are popular slots with a scatter symbol.
Wild symbols are like the joker in a pack of cards – they can substitute for any symbol on the reels, to give you a win you might have lost due to a missing symbol. They can only replace the regular symbols though, not other scatters or special symbols. They appear randomly and are restricted to certain reels in some games.
There are other special types of Wilds as well –
Expanding wilds, found in games like Hall of Gods from Netent, can replace entire reels, resulting in huge wins.
Sticky wilds stay on the screen for multiple spins, further increasing your win chances. Kong Slot from Playtech is an example of a game with a sticky wilds feature.
Stacked wilds appear on top of one another and are valuable as they can cover an entire reel. You will find them in slots like Jurassic Park from Microgaming and Age of Gods from Playtech.
What are the most popular bonus features in slots?
Those wilds and scatter symbols can trigger many different types of slot bonuses. Not all of the bonuses are created equal, however. Some are more popular among players due to the sheer value (or cash) they promise to deliver. These include the following:
- Free Spins
Everyone loves slots with free spins. You don’t have to spend any extra cash, yet gain more chances to win real cash – you would be mad not to love something like that! There are many ways in which you can earn free spin bonus rounds in modern slots.
The most common trigger involves scatter symbols. In our earlier example Game of Thrones Slot, the Throne symbol is the scatter. Land 3 of them anywhere on the reels and you win free spins.
In most slots, free spins come with attached multipliers that increase any wins you gain from the spins for extra cash! Some games like Game of Thrones give you a choice as well – fewer spins and more multiplier effect or more spins with a smaller multiplier effect.
- Pick a Win
This cool feature is found in some slots, like Pharaoh’s Fortune from IGT. The attraction of this bonus is the added mystery of not knowing what bonus you will get. The bonus in the IGT game is triggered by landing three Pharaoh special symbols.
Once the bonus round is triggered, you will see a separate game screen, here featuring a Pyramid, and you have to select from the available stone blocks. Each block you select will reveal a number of free spins with added multipliers.
Other slots may have different bonus wins hidden away, like bonus cash, more free spins, or other multiplier effects.
- Cash Wins
This type of bonus is popular because it is simple, straightforward, and bring you more cash! In the very popular Age of Gods Slot, the scatter symbol will pay cash prizes worth up to 100x your bet when it appears 3-5 times on a reel. As you can imagine, with 100x multipliers possible, this is a very popular bonus feature indeed.
- Progressive Multipliers
Not to be confused with progressive jackpots, these bonus features are found often in elaborately themed video slots. They often have meters that fill up when you win, like in the case of Netent’s popular Gonzo’s Quest Slot.
The “avalanche multiplier” feature in this game is triggered by its unique cascade feature where if you hit a win, only the winning symbols are removed. If you follow that up with another win, the progressive multiplier meter goes to X2, then X3 and so forth. If you lose, the meter falls back to X1.
- Skill Games
This is a relatively new phenomenon in online video slots. Usually, in slots, all you need to do is spin the reels. With skill games bonus rounds, the game gives you extra bonuses when you do special stuff like aiming and shooting at targets in an arcade round.
“Reel Edge” slots released by IGT feature arcade bonus rounds, based on classic games like Centipede and Space Invaders. Players have the option to choose this skill-based round, or a free spin bonus when they land two or more special symbols on the center reel.
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