Slots have come a long way since the days of the classic, jangling fruit machines. Those spinning cherries, bells and BAR symbols have given way to a world of immersive online adventures, with slots inspired by everything from ancient myths to hit movies and TV shows. The gameplay has moved on too, with modern games that have varied volatilities, multiple feature and bonus rounds, as well as progressive jackpots which are far higher than available on the high street.
There are many types of slot games to explore. So many in fact, that we thought you might like us to break the line-up down for you a little. Want to set the reels in motion? Here’s how the online slot landscape breaks down.
Hit the fruit machines
If you’re in the mood to go retro, you’ll find plenty of slots that harken back to the land-based fruit machines of old, while also throwing in some exciting features which bring them bang into the 21st Century. Take Super Hot Fruits, for example. It brings a classic line-up of five fruit-laden reels, but whenever you win 4x your stake you also get to play a big bonus game with more rows, reels and winning combinations. Another must-try is Ted Pub Fruit Series, which features vintage-looking reels and 16 bonus games which play out on the same screen as the main reel set. Not to mention, cameo appearances from the cheeky, furry hero of the Ted movies.
Enter Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt is an enduringly popular theme in the realm of slots, and there’s a wide selection of games that will whisk you into a world of mysterious pyramids and treasure-laden tombs. Cleopatra is a timeless favourite, brimming with instantly recognisable Egyptian symbols like scarab beetles and sphinxes. If you want a real adrenaline-rush, try your luck with Eye of Horus Megaways, which combines the Egyptian vibe with Megaways gameplay. This means the number of symbols shown by each reel changes randomly every time you spin, providing extra opportunities for winning combinations.
Embark on a treasure hunt
No shovels or backpacks are required when you hit the treasure hunt-themed slots. Instead, you can unleash your inner adventurer from the comfort of the sofa. With Oceans Treasure you’ll head into the watery depths on the quest for the lost wealth of Atlantis, with bonus features and free spins unlocked as you go deeper and deeper. Or, you can follow the intrepid Pirates’ Plenty on his quest for Da Vinci’s Treasure, in a slot game with atmospheric, Indiana Jones-like graphics and a bonus treasure map feature which can trigger larger wins.
Get back to nature
You may well start beating your chest in triumph if you get lucky on Gorilla Gold Megaways. Set in the lush rainforest, its Megaways gameplay means the size and scale of the reels will change every time you hit spin. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other ways to get back to nature at the reels, with Jungle Spirit: Call of the Wild being another firm favourite with players. This is a classic five-reeler which brings the jungle atmosphere with animal calls and the thumping of drums – perfect if you want a walk on the wild side.
Make magic happen
You don’t need a wand or any special wizarding skills to hit the jackpot with online slots. But there’s still quite a few games with marvellous magical themes to enjoy. One of the most colourful and playful is Merlin’s Millions, where the iconic sorcerer unleashes his powers across the reels, with glowing orbs and whirling potions a-plenty. You can even channel some Hogwarts-style magic with The Pig Wizard, which thrusts you into the world of “Harry Trotter” and features a whimsically magical-sounding soundtrack and bonus games like Squeal or No Squeal, which reinvents the classic picking game with spell books instead of boxes.
The “payline” refers to a winning configuration of symbols across the reels. In the old days of the original one-armed bandits, this would have meant a single, horizontal string of identical symbols – think three bells in a row. But, with online slots, paylines come in all kinds of patterns: vertical, diagonal, zig-zagging, you name it. This means every spin can yield multiple winning combos. How you can bet on paylines will differ depending on the game. Some slots let you choose how many paylines you want to wager on, while others have “fixed paylines”, meaning you have to bet on all of them at once. Fixed payline slots are a good choice for players who just want to play, rather than ponder wagering strategies with every spin.
If your interest is playing higher volatility games with potentially higher winnings, Jackpot slots, also known as progressive jackpot slots, are the way to go. The potential prize money of these games increases as more and more people play – a bit like how a lottery works. There’s a wide variety of such slots available, from those offering daily jackpots to linked jackpot games where the prize pot is fed by multiple slots across the site (and even by games on other casino sites). Siberian Storm and Mega Moolah are among the games offering the chance to win big money progressive jackpots.
If you love playing slots, bagging yourself some free spins is the next best thing to winning money itself. This is where scatter and bonus symbols come in. Depending on the game you’re playing, getting a certain number of these symbols across the reels may reward you with a bunch of free spins. The good news is these symbols don’t have to form part of a payline to give you this bonus. Before playing any slots game for the first time, it’s useful to check out the paytable to find out what the scatter and bonus symbols look like and what kinds of perks they’ll bring you.
Thanks to advances in gaming tech, slots can be about far more than waiting to hit paylines. Many feature bonus rounds that can be unlocked when scatter and bonus symbols come up. These can include special free spins rounds with different sets of reels, or “pick me” rounds where you can select objects concealing possible prizes. An example of this is the uncannily entertaining Gizmo Box Hunt in the Gremlins game. Another one featuring a fun “game within a game” is Wheel of Fortune On Tour, which lets you have a spin on the famous wheel itself.
Wild symbols are gold dust for players, as they can substitute for any other symbol (except for scatter and bonus symbols), to help give you those precious winning paylines. But even better than individual wilds are stacked wilds. As the name suggests, this is when you get a number of wilds stacked on top of each other on a reel, giving you an even greater chance of hitting multiple playlines in one spin. It’s worth bearing in mind that different slot games will have their own rules on stacked wilds – some will only feature them in free spins rounds, for example, while others may restrict them to certain reels.
Tumbling or cascading reels is a slots mechanic that some players prefer. Simply put, whenever a payline comes up, the winning symbols vanish and the symbols directly above them on the reels fall down into their place. This means more paylines may be created, meaning you can potentially win again and again on the same spin. Indeed, the symbols will keep on tumbling, and the wins will keep on coming, until no more paylines appear on that spin. See it for yourself by playing slot games featuring tumbling reels, including Da Vinci Diamonds and Pixies of the Forest.