What are expanding wilds slots?
With wild symbols featuring in almost all modern slot machines, expanding wilds slots bring a new element of excitement into gameplay by incorporating wild symbols that will spontaneously expand to cover an entire reel. This significantly improves the players’ odds of hitting one or more matching paylines.
Expanding wilds slots will often start with normal one-symbol wilds that appear randomly on the reels. These wilds will then expand to fill the entire reel - often following a triggering event, such as when the wild appears on a particular reel - if you hit a certain number of wilds or during a bonus round feature.
An example of an expanding wild slot triggered by an event during gameplay is Mighty Tusks. You collect peanuts during the bonus rounds to feed the elephant and unlock the next reel, with the wild symbol expanding across any reel it lands on. Similarly, Diamond Queen incorporates expanding wilds by fixing each reel to wild symbols on each spin until reels two, three and four are all wild. This means it is easy to match five of a kind on all paylines if luck is on your side.
In Shaolin Spin by iSoftBet, the yin-yang wild expands on reels three, four and five and utilises random number generator (RNG) technology to ensure the appearance of the expanding wilds slots cannot be predicted. You can play iSoftBet demo games online right here at Online Slots NZ completely free of charge to familiarise yourself with the expanding wilds slots feature before committing your money.
Expanding wilds slots often go hand in hand with respins, which is one of the reasons they are most commonly found during bonus rounds; for example, in White Rabbit by Big Time Gaming, you will be rewarded with a free spin when you land an expanding wild symbol. This wild will also become sticky and remain in the same place while the rest of the reels spin to give you an additional chance for big wins.
Other types of wild symbol
Expanding wilds slots are not the only type of wild symbol that does more than replace a single symbol on a spin. There are a whole host of ‘special’ wilds that not only increase your chances of hitting multiple wins but also increase the suspense and excitement found in the most innovative slots games.
1. Stacked wilds
Stacked wilds work very similarly to expanding wilds slots in that you can find multiple wild symbols stacked on top of each other. These will usually create vertical lines on one reel; however, they can also be found in a horizontal line in more modern games.
The best gaming manufacturers for stacked or expanding wilds slots include Novomatic, WMS and Microgaming, so keep an eye out for special features if you play free demo slots by any of these manufacturers.
2. Sticky wilds
White Rabbit by Big Time Gaming features an excellent example of sticky and expanding wilds slots.
When you land a sticky wild symbol, as the name suggests, the symbol will ‘stick’ to its spot on the reel, remaining in place during further spins. Although this does not give you any more chance of hitting wins on the additional spins, it does provide the benefit of guaranteeing that at least one wild symbol will appear during your next spin. You might also hit multiple sticky wilds on different spins, enabling you to build up reels of these versatile symbols.
Naturally, game makers do not want you to build up too many sticky wilds during play, so this type of wild will usually have a limit as to how many spins it will remain in place for. In Troll’s Tale, the sticky wilds are triggered by locating three or more fairy godmother symbols and the wilds will include a number to illustrate how many spins they will remain active for.
Not all sticky wilds slots fully stick; for example, the popular Dinosaurs Slots game Lava Loot features ‘slightly sticky wilds’ during the bonus rounds. The wild symbols will slip down the reels one position at a time with each spin until they fall off the bottom of the reel.
3. Overlay wilds
Overlay wilds - or wild overlays - occur when wild symbols appear stacked in a particular shape, taking over other symbols in their path. A good example of this is NetEnt’s Guns N Roses, where the wild overlay takes the shape of a cross and takes over five symbols on reels two, three and four.
These symbols can appear at any time and replace any symbol other than a scatter or another wild. The unique shape of overlay wilds increases the chances of hitting multiple wins, as the wilds can appear stacked in a combination of vertical and horizontal to provide a variety of options.
In a variation of wild overlays, Solar Disc features interchangeable wilds that will transform into another symbol on the reel and turn all these symbols into wilds. If you are lucky, you can transform most of the reels into wilds, giving you five of a kind on almost every payline.
Play expanding wilds slots free online
Expanding wilds slots are increasingly popular and can be played for free right here at Online Slots NZ. With all games optimised for desktop, mobile and tablet usage, you can play directly in your web browser with no need to download software or provide any payment information.
Popular games featuring expanding wilds include Starburst, The Wild Life and DJ Wild; alternatively, take a different approach and try Spinata Grande, where the wilds expand into a 3x3 layout rather than across a line.