Wild Symbols in Slots December 1, 2023
Online slots in the modern era have no shortage of exciting features to offer, with new innovations popping up all, the time, bringing fresh ideas to slot features on a regular basis.
Despite these advancements, for many, the classic features are the best, and they don’t get much more classic than the wild symbol.
This page is all about reviewing the different types of wilds offered in slots and offering games that have them.
What are Wild Symbols?
Wild symbols in slot games act much the same as wild cards in the majority of table and card games.
A wild symbol can substitute for other symbols on the reels (with occasional exceptions, normally the scatter symbol) to help form winning combinations.
For example, if you are playing a slot that requires three A symbols to form a winning combination, and you have two A symbols and a wild symbol on a pay line, that wild will substitute for the third A symbol, resulting in a winning combination.
Basic wild symbols can add an extra dimension to a slot game, but most developers are past the point of just offering basic wilds at this point. Evolutions have been frequent in the world of wild symbols. Let’s take a look at a few of the best types of wild symbols that are now on offer.
#1 Sticky Wilds
Sticky wilds are one of the simplest, yet most effective forms of wild symbol available for online slot machines.
These work in the same way as regular wild symbols, with an important difference, they stick to the reels.
This means the wilds stay in place for future spins, usually during a free spins feature.
Feature Slot With Sticky Wilds - Danger High Voltage (Big Time Gaming)
The Sticky Wilds come into play during one of the two free spins features, the Gates of Hell Free Spins round.
This feature gives seven free spins, and one symbol, which can be the wild, will be chosen to be sticky throughout the round.
You can end up with up to 19 free spins here, with wilds sticking every time they fall, which can lead to some huge wins.
#2 Expanding Wilds
Expanding Wilds are fairly self-explanatory and can result in a huge boost to your winnings from a slot game if you’re lucky.
When an expanding wild symbol lands on the reels, it will expand to cover more reel positions, this can result in a fully wild reel, but even an expansion over just one reel position can result in some exciting results.
Expanding wilds can also be sticky in some games for the duration of a bonus feature or simply for an additional spin.
Feature Slot With Expanding Wilds - Starburst
NetEnt is known for its expanding wilds slots, with Hall of Gods, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Sparks being among the most popular, but it is the developer’s legendary slot, Starburst, that still leads the pack. Starburst has an expanding wild that sticks and awards a respin too.
A simple game, it is only the Starburst Wilds feature that is found here in terms of bonus games, but it’s quite a feature.
Wilds appear on the middle three reels and can expand to cover the whole reel. You get a respin for each expanding wild that lands on the reels, so it’s possible to get three respins with three wild reels.
#3 Random Wilds
Random wilds are essentially turbocharged wild symbols, they are special symbols that include various additions.
These wilds are normally featured alongside regular wilds in a slot game and tend to appear less often. Random wilds can expand, stick, or add a multiplier to a win as well as other possible treats.
Feature Slot – Ankh of Anubis (Play’n Go)
The base game of Play’N Go’s Egyptian themed slot is all about the Anubis Wilds feature. Triggering randomly, this adds wild symbols to the reels that can appear anything up to four symbols high.
The Anubis Wild feature also turns up in the Free Spins feature, when Ankh symbols are collected, adding a chance for big wins during this feature.
#4 Shifting Wilds
Pioneered by Playtech, shifting wilds, also known as walking or moving wilds, will wander across the screen to connect different pay lines, while still substituting for other symbols to create winning combinations.
For example, you could land a wild symbol on reel one, which will then shift to reel two on the next spin, and then continue moving across the reels until it ‘falls off’ the end.
This means a wild symbol can affect up to five consecutive spins, making it essentially a sticky wild that moves.
Feature Slot – The Invisible Man (NetEnt)
Playtech may have innovated the shifting wilds feature, but NetEnt perfected it with The Invisible Man.
A stunning slot based on the classic 80s movie, this slot benefits from ‘walking wilds’ (NetEnt’s name for shifting wilds) Police Wilds, which start on reel one, and walk across to reel five, and Griffin Wilds, which do the opposite.
Combine these two shifting wilds, and there are big wins to be found.
#5 Wild Reels
Wild reels are basically expanding wilds without the expanding part, a whole reel of wilds lands on a spin, giving a big chance to pick up some wins.
Land more than one wild reel from a slot and the chances really start to pick up, especially if these wild reels land on the first reels, essentially guaranteeing combinations of at least three of a kind.
While some slots offer randomly falling wild reels, others have one wild reel present on every spin.
Feature Slot - Bruce Lee (WMS)
Bruce Lee is a rather iconic online slot created by WMS (now under SG Digital) that comes with 5 reels and a unique 2x2x4x4x4 row setting.
The wild reels here appear during the free spins feature as stacks of Bruce Lee himself.
The game is has a medium volatility level.
#6 Stacked Wilds
Stacked Wilds are the missing link between Expanding Wilds and Wild Reels.
Wilds will land in (or expand into) a stack, but these rarely cover an entire reel, instead, the stack is usually between two and four symbols high, but can reach five on occasion.
Stacked symbols can go up, down, or both from the original wild symbol, the way these stacks work changes between slots, but they always add an extra chance to pick up a nice win or two.
Feature Slot - Wolf Gold (Pragmatic)
As well as the standard game symbols, the wild symbol can also land in this stack, giving an excellent chance to pick up four, or even five of a kind wins.
The game also has a 3 tier fixed jackpot that is triggered whenever 6 or more Moon symbols appear on the reels.
#7 Multiplier Wilds
Multiplier wild symbols act in exactly the same way as normal wild symbols, except for one important difference. Any win these wild symbols are a part of is subject to a multiplier.
This multiplier can change randomly, or be a set amount that rises depending on the number of wilds in the winning combination.
The exact rules change from slot to slot, but there is always an extra boost to a win with multiplier wild symbols.
Feature Slot – Dead or Alive 2 (NetEnt)
This Western-themed slot has always been a standout for NetEnt, and that’s heavily due to its enticing wild feature.
Now we have the second edition of the game, where you get to pick between 3 free spins features of different volatility levels.
The Free Spins feature offers the chance for wins by itself, but the big selling point is the sticky wild symbols that appear during this feature, not only do this symbols stick to the reels for the duration of the feature, they also add a multiplier whenever 2 or more wilds appear on the same reel.
Other Slots with Exciting Wild Features
These slot games don’t necessarily qualify under a single category we’ve listed above, but they stand out against the competition by being unique in one or more aspects.
Immortal Romance (Microgaming)
Part of the attention this slot got on release was obviously due to its cunning capitalizing on the popularity of Twilight, but it’s the gameplay that has kept players coming back with, at the time, revolutionary free spins progression journey.
The big wild feature here is the Wild Desire feature, which is simple enough but can have huge results.
In this feature, which triggers randomly in the base game, a select number of reels turn wild, which can, in very fortunate cases, be all five reels, which immediately results in a win of 12,150x your stake.
Magic Portals (NetEnt)
Magic Portals is an innovative game in many ways with portals that create exciting and magical effects on different symbols.
Any two identical symbols that land on the magic portals will become wild symbols, while all other matching symbols on the reels will follow suit, meaning you can suddenly find yourself with multiple wild symbols on the reels.
Even though the game is really old these days it reminds us about the level NetEnt slots were at when they dominated the industry.
It’s safe to assume we’re never far away from the next evolution of wilds. Whether it’s Microgaming or NetEnt continuing their trend, or another developer stepping up, wild symbols will keep evolving for as long as their popularity maintains.
Speaking of the slots niche overall, we have a few hot trends at the moment: Megaways slots, Grid slots and something we feel particularly excited about, slots that offer a player journey and seemingly enhanced payouts the longer you play.