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Most Popular Wild Symbols in Slot Machines Explained

Playing different online slot games can be a real blast. With a vast catalog of more than 6,777 online slot games, the selection is simply amazing, and you’ll always be able to find a game with a theme, look and feel you’ll love. But even with the different casino games online, video slots continue to be the favorite among players thanks in large part to the large number of in-game features they have.

The selection of different themes runs the full spectrum of all things imaginable, and today´s slots can be based on everything from blockbuster movies, to sports, exotic travel destinations, TV shows, wild animals and the list goes on. To keep up with the different themes, the developers have to ensure that the game‘s symbols are in true harmony with the overall theme to ensure the feeling you get is all immersive, vibrant and fun.

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Perhaps the most significant of all symbols on a slot machines reels are the wild symbols, which ensure you get the most out of your bets. That said, wild symbols can come in a great many shapes and forms. In this article, we set out to explain what wild symbols are, how they work and all of the different types of wilds you can encounter when playing today’s online slot machines.

First things first, what is a wild symbol in a video slot game?

The wild symbol is just like any other symbol in the game but varies from one slot machine game to the other. If this is your first time playing slots, you’ll want to know that you should always cross your fingers and hope to see this symbol on your reel(s), because it‘s the symbol with the most effective winning payout.

How does it do this? Wilds substitute for all the other symbols in the game to form winning combinations. In most cases, however, this rule does not apply to the scatter symbols, while in rare instances, they can also substitute for the scatters too.

How do they work?

It’s very simple. If we can use NetEnt’s Wild Wild West: The Great Train Heist as an example. There are plenty of in-game symbols including the 7, golden safe, cowboy, card decks among many other symbols. The game’s wild symbol is the WILD, and it will replace all the other symbols on an active payline to form winning combinations.
For example, if you spin three cowboy symbols and you only need one more to complete a winning combination, the WILD can substitute for the symbol that’s ruining the pattern and act as if it were a cowboy symbol to reward you with a complete pattern.

As such, wild symbols continue to be one of the most important features of a slot game and different software developers have expanded the wild symbol into many different types.

Among the most common are the following:

Regular wilds

Examples: Bloodsuckers II, Book of Ra, Dazzle Me

This is the most common type of wild symbol and can be seen in almost every slot game. What regular wilds do is to substitute for all the other symbols to form winning combinations. Bloodsuckers II, Book of Ra, Dazzle Me Slot, Warlords: Crystals of Power among many other modern video slot games feature the regular wild symbol.

Reel specific wilds

Example: Wild Rockets

Many video slots usually have their wild symbols appearing on specific reels, because it’s usually difficult to form winning combinations with wilds alone. The usual configurations of slot games include the wild symbols on reels 1, 3 and 5, on reels 2 and 4 or on reels 3, 4 and 5.
Usually, the reel specific wilds appear during the base game – as seen in Microgaming’s Lucky Leprechaun slot – or it can as well appear during the free spins slot game – as seen in NetEnt’s Wild Rockets slot.

Sticky Wilds

Example: Hell Boy, South Park, Pelican Pete

The term ‘sticky’ may make you feel a bit strange, but this is one of the best wild symbols in the online casino slot game world. Whether it‘s during the base game or the bonus round, the sticky wilds can hold their positions for further spins, i.e. during the next spin of the reel, which in turn create some serious winning combinations.

Games with sticky wilds are very popular among players because they offer a lot of flexibility in terms of how the different video slot developers introduce them. I particularly like how NetEnt has used them in their new video slot game, Warlords: Crystals of Power, which is accompanied by different bonuses. Once you activate the Samurai Free Spin bonus game, the scatter symbol will turn into a sticky wild.
Other games that feature sticky wilds include Miss Kitty, South Park, Pelican Pete, Treasure Fair, Hell Boy among many others.

Shifting Wilds

Example: Dolphin CashThe Invisible Man, Robin Hood: Shifting Riches

Shifting wilds are an extension of the sticky wild feature with a little bit of a twist. How do they work? Simple. You take your ordinary wild symbol and give it the capacity to move from the right or left across the reels with every passing free spin. This means that the wild symbol is going to take up a new position on the reels for every free spin.
Playtech is credited with first developing shifting wilds, and you can see them in their exciting Dolphin Cash slot. Other slot games with shifting wilds include NetEnt’s The Invisible Man and Robin Hood: Shifting Riches.

Walking Wilds

Example: The Invisible Man

The walking wild feature is one that sees wild symbols make their way across the screen spin after spin as you sit back and count your winnings.

The walking wild action starts as soon as you’ve landed a wild symbol anywhere on the screen. Once it has paid out the symbol, the wild symbol will shift one step to the right or left and in the process reward you with a free spin or real cash. This process will repeat itself over and over again, as the wild continues travelling in the same direction.

Depending on the video slot game you are playing, the walking wilds might shift position right, left or to both sides.
A good example of a slot game featuring this wild is ‘The Invisible Man‘. Look out for the policeman wild symbol, which walks from left to right on the reels as well as the invisible man wild symbol, who walks from the right side of the screen to the left. These two meet somewhere along the screen and transport you to the free spins bonus game, where you are automatically be rewarded with larger wins.

Expanding Wilds

Examples: Wild LifeHot Safari

Just as the name suggests, the expanding wild expands to cover the entire reel to form winning combinations. The Wild Life slot machine by Spielo International features an expanding wild symbol, which turns the entire reel wild to form a massive winning combination.

Likewise, the single title lion totem in Programmatic Play’s Hot Safari slot machine lands on the 3rd reel then expands into a full reel animated wild symbol to complete winning combinations.
One important fact you always need to remember is that most of the expanding wild symbols are not available during the base game, so you might want to activate the bonus rounds slot game to activate them. You can see this is NetEnt's Wild Wild West: The Great Train Heist, where the expanding wild is activated during the bonus game to reward you with a maximum of 10× prize multiplier.

Transferring wilds

Examples: Bruce Lee, Kiss

In order to make the game more interesting, the wild symbols adopt new behaviours as seen in transferring wilds. These are special bonus symbols that feature prominently in WMS slots, though other software developers are slowly picking up the concept.

In transferring wilds, the wild symbol transfers over on different sets of reels creating exponentially high winning possibilities. This can be seen in a number of WMS video slot games including Frozen Inferno, Bruce Lee Dragon’s Tale and KISS.

Colossal Wilds

Examples: Spiñata Grande, Wild Antics

Right from the moment you start playing Spiñata Grande, a game developed by NetEnt, you can’t fail to notice the colossal symbols. But what exactly are they and why are they special? To understand how the colossal wilds work, you first of all have to understand the colossal symbols.

Colossal symbols are 2×2 and 3×3 symbols that appear twice or even three times the size of the regular symbols. What makes them special is the nature in which it partly stacks itself across multiple reels to create massive wins if it falls alongside a smaller symbol of the same type.

For instance, when you land a 3×3 colossal across reels 1, 2 and 3, it pays out a win, but a standard 1×1 or 2×2 symbol falling on lines 4 and 5 will complete a 5× symbol payline. This is why the game Spiñata Grande has a top prize of 120,000 coins.

Therefore, in simple words, a wild colossal symbol is one that changes the image appearing next to it to form winning combinations but will only appear during the free spins bonus game. In Spiñata Grande, the wild is a colossal 3×3 symbol featuring a huge Mexican style skull, which will cover reels 2, 3 and 4.
Other games that feature colossal wilds include WMS’s Giant’s Gold, Playtech’s RoboCop slot, and Blueprint Gaming’s Wild Antics.

Stacked Wilds

Examples: Thor The Mighty AvengerDraculaSteam Tower, Thunderfist

Just like the Colossal Wilds, these wilds take more space on the reels in comparison to the other symbols. This implies that they appear on the reels in “stacks“ of three or four if the game has a 5×4 configuration.
Once the reels stop, you might only be able to see one end of the wild stack appearing at the top or bottom of your screen, you might also be able to see only two wild symbols together, or you might entirely see the stack of three or four wild symbols covering up the entire reel.

Initially, stacked wild symbols only used to appear vertically, but with competition and the need for fresh and innovative ways of winning and making video slot games more interesting to play, they can now move horizontally or in both directions.

It worth noting that most of the video slot games with stacked wilds also feature multipliers, as seen in Microgaming’s Eagle’s Wings slot game, Playtech‘s Thor The Mighty Avenger, NetEnt’s Wild Wild West: The Great Train Heist, Dracula, Steam Tower and Thunderfist, which all feature this symbol. Want to try them out, for free? Go on!

Spreading Wilds

Examples: Battlestar GalacticaMagic Mushrooms

Wild Wild West: The Great Train Heist video slot game truly shines in the wild symbol department. The highlight is the game’s spreading wilds, which spread out in a random direction or horizontally across the screen and by doing so, every other symbol they cover or touch will automatically be turned into a wild symbol too.
Other popular games with spreading wilds include Microgaming’s Battlestar Galactica, Playtech’s Legacy of The Wild, and Magic Mushrooms by Yggdrasil Gaming among many others.

Overlay Wilds

Examples: Dazzle MeGuns ‘N RosesJimi Hendrix

Overlay wilds can appear anywhere on the reels and cover many symbols (say 3 to 5) with wilds. This combines with the adjacent symbols, which increases the winning possibilities along with one or more bet lines.
This feature is widely seen in some of NetEnt’s slots latest releases including Dazzle Me, Divine Fortune, Motorhead, Guns ‘N Roses, Warlords: Crystals of Power, and Jimi Hendrix among many others.

Wild Generators

Examples: Pyramid: Quest for Immortality

Wild Generator Symbols mean that if one of more symbols found at the top positions of reels 2, 3 or 4 formed part of the winning combination after the spin, the symbols will automatically turn into wild symbols during the next free avalanche. If they still happen to be part of the winning combination, the symbols will still remain as wild symbols on the reels for another avalanche.

A good example of a video slot game exhibiting the wild generation feature is NetEnt’s Pyramid Quest video slot. The Golden Ankh symbol is the wild and only appears if you land a win on reels 2, 3 and 4, at the top of the reel. Keep your eyes peeled for the shimmering blue background as any symbol(s) involved in forming a winning combination in these positions will automatically turn into a wild during the next avalanche.

Suppose you have got a winning combination with any top symbols on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th reels. Now, these symbols will turn into Wilds, and you can play the Avalanche feature, as seen in NetEnt’s Gonzos Quest, where the winning symbols vanish from the reels while the other symbols replace their positions. If the replaced symbols turn out to be wilds, then you win further while there are chances of winning another avalanche again.

Wild Duplication

Example: Wonky Wabbits

The wild duplication feature has the ability to turn another symbol into a wild. Wonky Wabbits online slot is a good example. What happens is once the wild rabbit symbol appears on the reels, it will start going through the reels, creating a hole and eating the symbol. The hole created is then filled with a wild symbol, and thus duplication occurs.
In fact, if the wild duplication occurs, you might land yourself up to 14 wild symbols and be rewarded with massive wins!

Random symbol wilds

Random wild symbols are very unique and as the name suggests, they can randomly find themselves attached to one or more of the reels in a slot game. In this case, they can easily turn the non-wild or standard reel symbol into a wild and give them all the functionality of a typical wild symbol.
A good example of a video slot game with a random wild symbol is Microgaming’s Johnny Specter, a 5-reel, 20 payline slot with other incredible in-game features.

Floating Wilds

Example: Lights

These can be seen as another variation on random wilds. The symbols are randomly selected to convert into wilds. As the wilds are randomly placed, this means there is no assurance of a win, but they will appear at regular intervals. This dramatically increases the excitement level of the game. The Floating Wilds feature can be found in the Lights casino slot by NetEnt.

Wild Reels

Example: Secret of the Stones

Such wilds can cover the entire reel just like stacked wild symbols. Thus, you get more opportunities to create winning combinations along the win lines. The Secret of the Stones is a good example of a slot game featuring wild reels.

Added wilds

In order to make a slots game more thrilling and interesting, game developers have come up with the feature of adding different wilds to the reels. These can be used during the base game as well as for bonus rounds.

Straight and Diagonal Wilds

Example: Fisticuffs

NetEnt has designed the Fisticuffs online slot with a boxing theme. Apart from the exciting theme and features, the game is also popular for its unique Straight and Diagonal wilds. The Straight wilds can run down vertically up to reel 3. The Diagonal wild can scale up across the 2nd or/and 4th reels. The Straight wilds can hit the Diagonal wilds across the reels and transform any symbol touched by the moving symbols when they fly across. This creates excellent chances to win.

Golden Wilds

Examples: Excalibur, Wild Witches

This is one of the most highly rewarding wild symbols in free online casino slots. It generally appears on the center reel and creates several wins at once. The best thing is that the wins created with this wild symbol typically get a 4x or 3x prize multiplier that adds up to big winnings. The Golden Wilds feature is available in slot games like Excalibur, Pandora’s Box and Wild Witches.

Linked Wilds

Example: Frankenstein

How about a wild symbol that can also turn the nearby reels into wilds? This is possible with Linked Wilds. In the slot game Frankenstein, you get Linked Wilds in two different avatars. During the base game, the Lightning Wilds appear on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th reels and form wins by covering the reels. Fire Wilds also appear on the same set of reels and do the same during the free spins round.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that different software developers have worked long and hard to come up with numerous variations on the traditional wild symbol, all intended to make their games more interesting, exciting, fun to play and lucrative. To get the most out slots wilds it’s always a good idea to have a look around and play on a number of different slots games to find the online slots machine that really works best for you when it comes to all the benefits and bonuses wild symbols can bring.

Additionally, if you are searching for next generation 3D slot games, then it may be worth your time and effort if you try out some of the newly designed skill based slot machine games, which promise a more authentic wild symbol experience and offer up the capacity to reward you with massive wins!

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