Free Slots with Bonus Rounds

One of the main things that attract players to real money online slots are the bonus features. The best type of feature is one that offers a good amount of value while fitting into the natural gameplay of the slot and without departing too far from the theme of the game itself. In fact, most slots with bonus rounds that do really well have features that fit perfectly with the concept of the game, and that means that it has to be an integral part of the overall experience.

In what follows, we're going to look at how free slot machines with bonus rounds pull everything together to make sure that the player has the best experience possible.

The Nature of Bonus Features

Before you can really get into specifics, you have to understand the nature of these features. Free slots with bonus rounds all have one thing in common: There are two sources of value for the players. The primary source is the standard paytable. Most of your wins are going to come from lining up symbols and getting a prize for it, simply because this is the premise of the game as a whole. However, there is also a secondary source of value as well.

This secondary source comes from the bonus features. Free slot games with bonus rounds will typically have at least one feature that holds a lot of value for players, but the catch is that it probably doesn't come all that often. This adds a great deal of volatility to the situation since the outcome of a player's session will often depend on whether or not a bonus round was activated.

It's worth noting that it's possible to have features that hit often while giving a moderate amount of value each time, but it's not the most popular model at this stage in today's industry.

The Types of Bonus Rounds

When you play free casino slot games with bonus rounds, there are many different ways those rounds can play out based on the format of the game you're playing and how much value is tied up in them. We're going to break down the most popular types of these rounds and how you can pick the ones that will fit your personal play style the best. Here is a quick overview of these types:

  • Free spins
  • Pick a box
  • Skill-based features
  • In-play features

Each of these four types of bonus rounds will have a different effect on the volatility, hit-rate and overall gameplay of the slot. That's why it's important to look at each of them individually in quite a bit of depth so that you can pick out which one will work the best for you and how you prefer your sessions to go.

Free Spins

We'll start with free spins because they are the most popular type of feature in free slot games with bonus rounds no download players love to choose. The basic premise is that you get a set of free turns, and the winnings you get from those turns are like a bonus payout that you wouldn't have received otherwise. Typically, free spins bonus rounds are triggered by a specific number of Scatter symbols. Once activated, this feature will give out free spins ranging from 5 to 25. At times, this feature can even be re-triggered.

There are typically extras added into these free spins so that they're worth more or play a little differently than typical free spins. For example, a common way to add more value is to give players a multiplier on all of the wins that they get from their free spins feature. The thing to realise with this is that the higher the multiplier is, the more value that will be tied up in the feature, and the higher the volatility will be.

In free online slot machines with bonus rounds based on free spins, you can also get other goodies like improved symbol sets with better chances to win or an extra row of symbols added, especially if the game is of the 243-ways format since that will effectively turn it into a 1,024-ways format for the sake of the free turns.

Pick a Box Features

The premise of the pick a box feature is that you have a number of "boxes" to choose from, and there are different prizes available in each box. You don't know what those prizes are, however, so you're essentially picking at random. Free slots with bonus rounds based on a pick a box style approach are typically just trying to involve the player a bit more in what largely amounts to just being given a random payout.

Multipliers can come into play with these prizes as well. For example, you might get to pick three boxes out of nine on a screen, and at least one of them is guaranteed to be a multiplier while at least one is guaranteed to be a payout. You add the payouts and multiply them by the given multiplier to determine the amount you win, and this adds a bit of fun to the experience.

The key thing that makes slots with bonus rounds like this effective is when the feature is made to really tie in with the theme of the game. For example, if you're in a game with a concept based around treasure-hunting pirates, it would make a lot of sense if the boxes are treasure chests that the player is choosing from. If they're something boring and unrelated, then it takes away from the experience.

Skill-Based Features

One of the most innovative types of feature that you'll find in free casino slot games with bonus rounds is a skill-based feature. These usually come in the form of arcade-style games where you're trying to meet some certain objective like shoot a moving target or make it through a mini game. Free slots can be a lot of help in learning to play these games well, and because being good at them increases your average payout rate, it's necessary if you want to have the best chances of running up winning sessions.

In-Play Features

Something that's started to gain more ground in recent years is the push for free slot games with bonus rounds that focus on in-play action. In-play features are anything that happens during the normal play session that increases your value or gives you extra chances to win. The cascade feature (also called an avalanche or "Rolling Reels" feature) is a good example of this.

The basic idea of a cascade bonus round is that winning symbols explode to make way for what amounts to a free re-spin with new symbols falling into place. If you get a win again, the symbols from those winning combinations explode out of the way and give you room for yet another re-spin. Multipliers can be tied into this as well.

In-play features of online fruit machines typically do not add to the volatility of the experience because they happen fairly often. They're usually tied to winning spins, so they add a small amount of volatility in that sense, but free slot games with bonus rounds no download players prefer will typically give an individual a more action-packed experience in smaller sessions since you're unlikely to hit other types of features all that often unless you play for quite a bit of time.

The Case For Fewer Features

Some players out there prefer games with fewer features. At first glance, it would seem like these people might be crazy, but they do have a valid point that software developers have taken into account when coming up with the bonus features for some of the most recent releases.

The idea behind playing games with fewer (or even no) bonus rounds is that it forces all of the value to come from the normal pay table. This isn't something that most players think about, but it drastically decreases the volatility and increases the hit rate, which leads to a more exciting experience for many players.

In response to this, software providers have created free slot machines with bonus rounds that hit more often and that are more tied into the normal gameplay. This means that they function closer to regular wins on the paytable in terms of how they award value, and this is a stark contrast to the once-in-a-while nature of big free spins features in the free slots with bonus rounds of the previous generation of casino titles.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that slots with bonus rounds are always going to be more popular than the games that don't have them simply because software developers can adjust these rounds to be more in line with what the players want. Even free spin features can be tailored so that you get a set of a few free turns fairly often instead of getting dozens of free spins all at once to satisfy the crowd who wants a higher hit-rate with a low volatility.

Overall, the bonus round is one of the key selling points for many games now, and we're seeing more feature-packed titles than ever before. The different software companies are trying to out-do each other with adding more and more features to their games, but this has to be balanced with the simple fact that there's an upper limit to how much players want to be packed into the games that they enjoy. Finding that balance is the key issue facing slot software providers in today's industry.