Shields of the Wild introduction
NextGen is the Kinder Egg of iGaming; you never know what you're going to get. It could be a surprisingly good game (rarely), or downright awful. With games like 300 Shields, Medusa II and Cash Stampede, there is always a degree of anticipation and hope attached to new game releases from NextGen. The point is, however, that there is a lot of inconstancy and variation in quality and unfortunately we haven't seen a game as good as those previously mentioned in years.
Shields of the Wild is a 5 reeler with 3 rows and only 10 pay lines. Players can bet between €0.10 and €100, which makes it suitable for both low and high-rollers. NextGen slots have a slightly lower RTP than slots produced by most other well-established game providers, something they have in common with Novomatic. The 95.5% RTP found here is not the worst we've seen, but certainly not considered generous by today's standards.
Green hills and mountains form the backdrop with a knight and a king flanking the reel set on each side, giving the impression of an epic battle having taken place. Visually it is somewhat of a masterpiece coming from this provider, with a Vikings Go Berzerk inspired intro to enjoy.
Shields of the Wild symbols
The payouts are displayed in coin value which is a bogus legacy from ancient days meant to confuse players. Looking at this pay table most definitely won't get anyone excited. The pay lines are limited and the value of the symbols even more so. There's no distinct boundary between low-value and premium symbols, they all seem to merge into one pile of dog poop. For example, the top symbol, which is the wild, is only worth 250 times the stake should you land a full screen.
The regular symbols, which are 8 in total, are represented by shields of various shapes and sizes. The wild shield bears the logo of the game, and the scatter symbol comes in the form of a sword. There is also an upgrade symbol that only appears in the free spins.
Shield Wall Feature
The Shield Wall feature is triggered randomly in the main game. When initiated, a burst of arrows are shot at the reels, and all symbols go through an upgrade. This could go on up to 8 times after which a final calculation is made following the last upgrade. If lucky, you could end up with a lot of wilds and the maximum payout of 250 times the stake.
Marching Stacks Free Spins
The Marching Stacks free spins game is a bit complicated to explain so bear with us. It's not the first time we see symbol upgrade mechanics in a slot, but this one is slightly different in its approach. To allow entrance to the free spins mode, players need to land 3, 4, or 5 scatter symbols anywhere on the reels. There is no specific amount of free spins awarded. Instead, the feature relies on the upgrade mechanics to run its course.
At the start of the feature, a stack of symbols are added to reel 5. The symbols chosen for this event is relative to the number of scatters that landed to trigger the free spins. For example, landing 5 scatters means the 2 symbols of least value are removed altogether, while also increasing the chances of an initial upgrade all the way up to the Silver Wolf Shield symbol.
For every spin taking place, the stacks of symbols move one position to the left. This means that after 2 spins you will have 2 full stacks of the same symbols on reels 4 and 5. Now, if a scatter symbol lands on the reels, the stack does not move and an upgrade of the stacked symbols takes place. The symbol update progression can be seen below the reels. The Marching Stacks free spins game ends when stacked symbols fill all 5 reels.
At the completion of the free spins, a retrigger may be awarded and the whole process starts over again but starting with your already upgraded symbol. This is the key to having a shot at the full potential of this slot. There appears to be no limit to how many times the free spins can retrigger.
Shields of the Wild Conclusion
To have a real shot at the full potential, players would either need to land upgrade symbols like crazy in the free spins right from the start, preferably until upgraded to the Wild symbol, or being lucky with retriggers. Having played around 25+ bonuses we managed to upgrade to the second best regular symbol, which ultimately payed around 100 times the stake, so getting anything decent out of this game is hard.
Shields of the Wild is very well designed and, in our opinion, one of the best looking games ever produced by NextGen. It's surprisingly entertaining to play with a feature that is quite thrilling and the chance of a random retrigger at the end adds extra flavour to the meat. This is likely not a slot that will generate many 2000x+ wins, but it appears to be a decent wagering slot with a relatively high entertainment factor.
We're not sure when NextGen will launch Shields of the Wild, but expect it to happen within the next couple of months. Looking for more NextGen Gaming slots? Check out our NextGen page.