Pick a slot game at random and load it up at your choice of online casino and you will quickly find that there are many facets of a slot game that tend to be replicated throughout the vast majority of games, whether you are playing at one casino or another, or playing games from one slots development studio to another.
Casinos like Spartan Slots Casino, where you can sign up today with 25 Free Spins and then receive a fantastic value matched deposit bonus of 200% when you do make your first deposit on the site, which will treble the amount of money you have available (maximum bonus payable is $1,000), offer an outstanding range of games from the world's top slots development companies. Yet, a quick look through a handful of them and you will find that many seem to stick to the standard slots template.
Now slots can have a different number of reels (three or five seems to be the standard) and on those reels they can have a different number of symbols (but again, three or five seems to be the standard). When you essentially have these factors repeated on slot game after slot game, they quickly become repetitive and you do crave something a little different.
This is where these other bonuses and features can come in.
Now of course, how a feature is utilized in a slot is absolutely fundamental to its success. It doesn't matter if you have the best bonus feature in slots history, if you make it so difficult for players to unlock it and play it, then it isn't going to appeal to any slot gamer worth their salt. So in addition to the feature itself, how it is utilized within the slot and how it can be accessed will also play a key role in its success or failure.
So with that in mind, what are the key slot features we think are underused on modern slot games? Here's our list of bonuses and other features that we think need to be used more widely by developers to give slot players of tomorrow, the games they want to play.
This is such a simple bonus that I am staggered that so few slots, in relative terms, choose to utilize it. A Win Both Ways slot allows players to win on a pay line in the standard fashion, from left to right across the reels, but also win from Right to Left across the reels.
In essence, this doubles the amount of winning line possible on a slot and means that every spin could be a winner right down to the final reel landing, rather than seeing the first two reels land and know that the spin is not going to be a winner.
A Win All Ways slot takes things even further and allows players the ability to win left to right, right to left and also across the middle reels of the slot, so if you land three symbols on a line on the second, third and fourth reels, it would pay out a win.
To me, slots with this feature are more exciting as a win can happen at any point on the spin and your interest on each spin is held for the full duration of the spin, not just the first two or three reels. It also means that slots with generally fewer pay lines in play can still offer players some good value gaming.
If you fancy trying out a Win All Ways slot, then Richie Valens La Bamba slot from Realtime Gaming is a good example, while the Super 6 slot, also from Realtime Gaming, is a decent example of a Win Both Ways game.
Sticky Wilds are becoming more commonplace in slot games now, generally as a bonus round features, but occasionally you can also land them in the base game.
As the name suggests, Sticky Wilds are Wild symbols that when you land them on the reels, remain in place for a stated number of spins afterwards. Of course, you can often land more than one Sticky Wild on the reels and as you do, you can put together a collection of them to lead to some big value wins.
Some games offer you free re-spins when you land Sticky Wilds consecutively, allowing you to grow the number and receive successive pay outs, others see the Wilds simply land on the reels and then stay for the stated number of spins before disappearing. More frequently, Sticky Wilds can be used as a bonus feature in a Free Spins bonus round.
There was a time when slots had just one pay line in play. Over the years that has grown to slots now offering every possible line on the reels in play (243-ways to win on a 5x3 reel slot for example). These slots are very popular and there are a growing number of games that offer 243-ways, or even 1024-ways, or even greater numbers.
However, there are slots that do not offer pay lines at all but which instead offer wins based on clusters of symbols, or by landing a stated number of symbols on the reels. While these slots are not numerous, they do offer a very different gaming experience to standard games and they are very similar to popularly played social media titles, which makes them a very useful marketing tool to attract players of these games to give them a try for real money.
If you like the sound of no pay lines but winning by collecting clusters of symbols, or landing a symbol a set number of times on the reels, then try out the new Sweet Bonanza slot from Pragmatic Play while the Legend of the Nile slot from Betsoft is another one worth a closer look.
Hopefully over the years, we will see more slots using a greater range of features and perhaps developing brand new features to attract players and give them an exciting new slot gaming experience.