Online Slots Features 2024 – All about reels and free spins

Even when two online slot games have a lot of similarities in terms of appearance, there are usually technical differences that can make a big difference. Having a thorough understanding of how every slot works is really important when it comes to picking one to stake your money on. While you can start with the actual design of the slots, it’s also important that you don’t overlook the different features that these games can offer. In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the main features to look for when you want to pick a new online slot game to explore.

Scatter Symbols

If you take a closer look at the features of slots, you’ll often notice the term “scatter symbols”. Sometimes, they just call them “scatters”. Now, this is actually a really important feature to look out for, as it’s one of those symbols that can help you get a win, even when things look dire on other matches you’ve made on the board.

Something important that you should keep in mind here is that scatter symbols do not always offer the exact same bonus or feature in every slot game that you can play. That’s why it’s important to take a closer look at the rules of each game – this information gives you a better idea of how they work with scatters.

A lot of slots actually use scatters as a way to trigger bonus rounds. Sometimes, this means getting some free spins to increase your odds of hitting a win. Other times, there is an actual bonus mode that the game enters whenever you’re able to hit a certain number of scatters on the board. The specific way in which these bonus modes work entirely depends on the game you’re using and may sometimes even give you a wheel to spin – which can grant you extra rewards based on where the wheel lands.

Apart from triggering bonus rounds and even giving you access to free spins, some of these slot games also offer a multiplier attached to their scatter symbols. Now, you should note that when this is the case, the game might solely focus on using scatters for a multiplier, although there are entries in the world of online gambling that combine multiple features into their scatters.

Wild Symbols

Apart from scatters, you’ll also often notice wild symbols introduced in the slot games that you’re looking to play. Just as with the scatter symbols, you’ll have to take a closer look at the rules every game introduces. That’s because the specific function of wilds can somewhat differ from one slot to another – and knowing what they do ensures you have a better understanding of what to expect based on how the reels roll when you press the spin button.

 

Most games will use wilds as substitute symbols. That means if you are close to making a match and there is a wild symbol that appears, it will actually complete the matching for you – and thus give you the win that you were excited about. One thing to keep in mind here, though, is that most slot games will allow wilds to substitute any symbol, but they usually exclude scatters from the list.

 

Wilds are generally considered to be very random. This basically adds to the excitement – but you do need to understand that in some slots, they can only land on specific reels of the board.

High RTP

When it comes to the technical specs of slot games, there is one particular element that you should prioritize – and that’s the RTP. It’s also known as the return-to-player rate, and basically tells you about the amount of money that’s put back into the game by the casino you’re playing at.

This factor plays a big role in determining just how much chance you have to get lucky with a game. When the RTP is low, it means the casino is pocketing a lot of the money that players spend as bets. This also basically results in fewer wins and a much lower chance of actually getting close to the max win. That’s because the amount of money that’s paid back to the players – the casino puts more of a limit on that.

Some games have a fixed RTP. In this case, no matter which casino you decide to sign up with, the return-to-player rate will remain the same. However, there are also those with a variable RTP. What this essentially means is the developer behind the slot game allows flexibility for the casinos who decide to host them.

Developers will usually set specific RTP options that the casino can pick from. However, whether it’s pre-set or the casino has full freedom, it’s important that you are careful with those slots that have a variable return-to-player.

You see, some casinos will decide to go with the lowest RTP rating that the slot game has. And this means they get to keep more money that players deposit while playing the game – and, at the same time, it also reduces the amount of payouts players can expect. That’s why we really recommend taking a look at the RTP and opting for a slot with a higher RTP.

As a general standard, you should ideally look for an RTP that is at least more than 96%. This is considered an industry default and helps to keep the odds up when playing online slots. When you decide to play a slot with a variable RTP, take a closer look at the different casinos that host the game. That way, you’ll be able to filter through different RTP offers and find that rate that will give you the most return – and the best chance of hitting bigger wins.

Free Spins

Now that we’ve taken a closer look at wild and scatter symbols, and talked about RTP, there is another feature that you should look for when you decide to assess different slot games. This is free spins – a type of bonus feature that’s extremely useful when it comes to maximizing your wins and reducing the amount of money you lose on bets.

You should make sure to understand how exactly free spins work. That’s going to ensure you know what to expect and don’t end up confused in the process. Just as the name suggests, these spins allow you to hit the spin button without placing another bet.

When you land a win, there will often be a multiplier applied to the bet you’ve placed on the slot. So, there’s a common question with free spins – which value will be used to determine the payout if you hit a multiplier? In most cases, this will fall onto the last bet that you made before you scored these free spins.

Let’s say you decide to bet $2 on a spin. Now, you hit the spin button, land some symbols, and you score five free spins. During these free spins, you hit a multiplier of 10. That’s going to take the last bet that you’ve placed into consideration in most cases. So, if you find yourself in this type of scenario, you’ll likely get a payout of $20.

You should note that some casino games may come with fine print and terms that apply when you win through free spins. Thus, it’s really important that you read through these. That way, you won’t have to worry about finding yourself in a difficult position later on.

Apart from winning free spins while playing a specific slot game, some casinos may also give you a few when you sign up. These welcome bonuses can be really helpful to get you going, but you should note that they often only apply to specific games – so make sure those slots that you can use the free spins on are actually worth playing.

When you get a free spin bonus this way, you might have to deposit a certain amount or reach a specific milestone before you’ll be able to withdraw any funds from your account. The same rules usually apply to any deposit matches that these casinos offer. Read the terms and conditions to really understand what you’re signing up for if you opt for any type of welcome bonus.

Re-Spins

Next up – re-spins. Sometimes, you get really great matches on the board while you play a slot game. However, maybe you are just one or two symbols short of really hitting a big win. That’s where re-spins come into the picture. They essentially allow you to spin the slot again without having to go through the entire process or place a new bet.

 

Keep in mind that re-spins do not work exactly the same with every online slot game you can find. You’ll need to take a closer look at the instructions that each slot offers – here, you’ll notice any details about re-spins that the game provides.

 

The thing is – not every slot game will give you access to re-spins. In fact, it’s actually quite a rare feature when you take a look at slots, but it can be very helpful. In some cases, the re-spin will even keep some of the symbols you’ve landed on the board, and only replace others with new ones. This is where the main potential of re-spins really comes into the picture – when they hold some symbols on the board, then your chances of actually making those big matches will significantly increase.

Bonus Rounds

You’re also going to come across many slots that have bonus rounds. Now, these bonus rounds differ from slot to slot. Some simply give you a bonus in the form of a few free spins. The board remains the same, and you can hit the spin button a few times without actually risking a bet.

 

However, you’ll also find that some of these bonus rounds in slot games change the appearance of the board or perhaps send you to a different scene. This type of bonus round can really add to the overall fun that a game offers and give you a greater level of immersion.

 

For example, there are some games that show you a wheel to spin when you enter a bonus round. The wheel can award you with different things, such as a multiplier or perhaps even free spins. It’s actually really exciting to spin those wheels and then wait for it to land on a prize – it adds more

Cluster Pays

If you read about the details of a slot game, you’ll often notice that they are divided into types based on how they pay out. Most slots have a standard payout system, where you make matches in certain orders across the board, and that’s how the game knows how much to pay out (or if you’ve lost your bet).

Cluster pays is one of the more unique payment systems that you’ll come across as you delve through the world of online slots. Now, the very first developer who decided to come up with this payment system was NetEnt. This company has been in the online casino industry for many years, and they still continue to impress people with the diverse selection of slot games they develop.

Cluster plays basically work like this – symbols match land right next to each other and form what is called a “cluster”, just as the name suggests. Some casinos also call these clumps. The more symbols that clump together, the higher your payout becomes when you are able to land such a match.

Many online gamblers have found that cluster pay systems are really good when it comes to matching symbols, as there are different ways in which you can win when you decide to play these slots. However, they’re not for everyone – and if you prefer a more traditional matching system, then it might be a good idea to look for regular slots that don’t stray away from the default pays that these games tend to use.

Different types of slot games by number of reels

We’ve covered some of the most important features that you should look for in online slots. There’s one more factor that we also have to discuss – and that’s the different types of layouts you’ll find with these games. Reels is the term that you use to refer to how many columns there are in an online slot game. You get quite a diverse selection of layouts, so it’s important to understand what you should expect with each.

 

In this section, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the most common reel layouts that you’ll come across during your journey. While these are common, it’s important to note that certain games use very unique layouts and may not fit into one of these categories.

3-Reels

It’s really common to see three-reel layouts when you take a closer look at online slots. This means there are three columns. They are often combined with either three or four rows. It makes for a relatively compact board, which can put some limitations on your opportunity to match different symbols together. However, they are often flexible in terms of the paylines and how you can match symbols, which can be beneficial in certain cases.

4-Reels

A four-reel layout is a bit bigger but still offers some level of compactness. They sometimes come with three to five rows. However, there are many slots that use four reels, along with some variations. For example, some of the rows on the board may have one or two extra reels, oftentimes those that sit in the middle of the board.

5-Reels

Next up – the five-reel layout. It’s actually at this point where you get a good balance. The board isn’t too small, but at the same time, it’s also not too spacious. You have several paylines with these slots, and they still fit well on mobile phones – given that the actual casino that you decide to play at does offer support for smartphone and tablet screens (check the official website of the casino or try to open it on your phone to see if it works properly).

7-Reels

Now, you might want a chance to really go for it – maximizing your opportunity to win. And that’s exactly where seven-reel slots come into the picture. You see, these slots actually have a large board layout, giving you more spaces to fill with matching symbols.

Conclusion

A high return-to-player, combined with bonus features like scatters and wilds, can go a long way in making a slot game more enjoyable. However, there are other factors to keep in mind, too, such as the reel layout and whether or not the slot gives you access to options like free spins. Follow the guidance we shared to help you analyze every slot game before picking one to bet on.

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