Our slot of the month for April 2018 is Hotline. Two things immediately stand out about this brand new Netent slot game, which has a classic 5 x 3 reels array, 30 paylines and a fixed stake of 15 coins:
- It’s very obviously inspired by (though not officially based on) 1980’s classic TV series Miami Vice
- It has a Bonus Bet feature
Bonus Bet allows players to increase their stakes to enable a more exciting version of the game to be played. This type of feature is most commonly found in NextGen slots – for example the much loved 2013 title Foxin’ Wins (where Super Bet increases the number of reels where fox cub wilds can appear). Net Ent have released slot games with Bonus Bet before (Koi Princess for instance), but Hotline is where the feature really comes into its own.
Bonus Bet is used in conjunction with the Hotline feature which is one of those simple yet amazing gimmicks Net Ent slots do so well. It works like this:
- A Hotline is a horizontal row of symbols across reels array. By default, the middle Hotline only is activated (Base Bet) but it is possible to choose either of the other two instead if desired. Small symbols to the left of the reels light up in gold to show which Hotlines are currently activated (in the screenshots below, the first one has three activated Hotlines and the second one just has the middle Hotline acitvated).
- Wild symbols can appear anywhere on the reels and when a wild symbol lands on an activated Hotline, it expands to cover the whole reel.
- It also awards a re-spin, which takes place after all wins have been evaluated. Expanded wilds stay in place during the re-spin. If the re-spin causes a further wild to land on an activated Hotline, the fresh wild expands and awards a second re-spin. This continues until no new wilds appear (which could conceivably be when the entire array is covered in wilds).
- Because the paylines run from left to right only, the expanding wilds tend to be disappointing when they appear on reels 4 or 5 (as they would need to be combined with 3 or 4 of a kind on the leftward reels to win anything). If they appear on reel 1 and/or 2, that’s when big wins can materialise.
So where does the Bonus Bet come in? It allows additional Hotlines to be activated increasing the chance of getting expanding wilds and re-spins. With Double Bet (which ups the stake to 30 coins), you play with two Hotlines of your choice activated and with Triple Bet (45 coins stake) you play with all three Hotlines activated.
Activating additional Hotlines changes the variance of the slot. In any spin where no wild appears on the reels (and there are a lot of those!) the pays (if any) remain the same whether the bet is 15, 30 or 45 coins – so with Triple Bet, those wins are only going to be a third, relative to stake, of what they would be with Base Bet and in most cases they will be less than the spin value (5 of a kind of a high scoring symbol is needed to exceed it). When a wild does appear on the reels, however, Double bet makes it twice as likely to expand as Base Bet does, and Triple Bet makes it certain to expand. With Base Bet, if you get a wild on the re-spin it only has a 1/3 chance of expanding whereas with Triple Bet it is certain – so there is a much better chance of getting consecutive expanding wilds to produce a big win.
Essentially, Bonus Bet takes half or two thirds of the RTP out of the base game and puts it into the special features – including the (relatively rare) bonus round, which is where things can get really wild!
In the bonus round, the extra chance of getting expanded wilds has even more of an effect. The bonus round consists of 7 free spins (which can’t be retriggered), awarded when scatter symbols appear on reels 1, 3, and 5. Wilds behave as they do in the base game, expanding when they land on an activated Hotline and triggering a re-spin – but during the bonus round, they don’t just stay in place for the re-spin, they stay in place for the rest of the free spins creating bigger and bigger wins as more wilds turn up.
This is where Triple Bet can really pay off! The chance of completely filling the reels with wilds when playing with Base Bet is just 1/243 that of doing it when playing with Triple Bet (243 = 35, just like the ways to win in a 243 way).
It should also be noted that the RTP of this game is NOT the same for all Bonus Bet levels. The base game with just one Hotline enabled has RTP of 96.13%, with Double Bet it is 96.70% and with Triple Bet it goes up to 97.04%. Basically, Triple Bet pays out more than Base Bet as well as being much more exciting to play – if you like the rollercoaster ride of a high variance slot! If you DON’T like high variance by all means try out this slot without the Bonus Bet feature – but you’ll kind of be missing the point.
If you can’t wait for this super exciting slot to land at your usual bingo or slot site, here’s a list of sites that have it already.