The Ultimate 5: Slot Overview
On the outside, a hold & win game set on the African plains doesn't sound like a festering bowl of originality, and for a lot of the time, The Ultimate 5 is pretty average. However, Pragmatic Play has been doing this for a while and has added a few elements that provide a certain measure of novelty. On this savannah sojourn, players bump up against a Hold & Spin Super Boost, free spins with symbol removals, and a pretty neat five animal winning combination extra.
The view will be familiar when The Ultimate 5 lights up the screen, where a five-reel game panel takes centre stage in a grassy part of Africa full of trees, a stream, mountains, and the like. On the right are five different prizes that can be won in the Hold & Spin feature, giving the game a slight Wolf Gold feel. Obviously, the setting and animals have been switched up this time around, from wolves to the big five. The Ultimate 5 would be pretty trite, and it still kind of is, but Pragmatic has squeezed in a bouncy physical slot feel through the soundtrack and bright visuals, so there's sure to be appeal for players keen on this style.
Numerically, The Ultimate 5 is another stand up Pragmatic Play piece, where a default RTP value of 96.5% gets things off on a positive footing. Note that RTP may be found at lower levels, though volatility remains high throughout. The action takes place on a 5-reel, 3-row matrix providing 20 fixed paylines to win on. This generally happens when three or more matching symbols land from the leftmost side in adjacent reels.
Playable from between 20 p/c to £/€100, the paytable is divided between low pay 10-A card symbols and the big five African animals. These are buffalos, rhinos, elephants, leopards, and lions. Landing a line of five low pays is worth a win of 1-2x the bet, rising to 4-20x the bet for five premium symbols. However, players collect a win worth 100 times their stake if all five animals land in any order on a payline. Lastly, an acacia in the sun symbol is the wild, substituting for any pay symbol, though not for the 100x all animal wins.
The Ultimate 5: Slot Features
Two bonus rounds have been included with The Ultimate 5. They are free spins where a symbol removal function is used, and a hold & win feature with upgrades.
Diamond scatters land on all reels, and having 3, 4, or 5 of them in view awards a payout of 5x, 25x, or 50x the bet plus 8, 10, or 12 free spins, respectively. During free spins, the reels randomly level up by removing the lowest value symbol from them. It is possible to remove all of the low-value symbols after the fifth random level up. Every time a random level up occurs, a wild symbol is guaranteed to hit. On a final note, the bonus game can be extended by landing little diamond symbol overlays. Having 2, 3, 4, or 5 of them in view at the same time awards 2, 4, 6, or 8 additional free spins.
Hold & Spin Super Boost
It gets hot in certain parts of Africa for sure, but the burning hot sun money symbol perhaps overstates the intensity? Nevermind, money symbols land on reels 2, 3, or 4 in the base game and all reels during the Hold & Spin feature. Money symbols possess random values of 1-10x the bet or one of the five prize values. These are the Mini, Minor, Major, Maxi, or Mega, worth 25x, 50x, 75x, 100x, or 500x the bet. Hitting at least 3 of them triggers the Hold & Spin Super Boost feature where all symbols are removed except the triggering money symbols, which move to the centre of the grid.
The bonus game starts with 3 respins, which are reset when new money symbols hit. When a money symbol hits and is adjacent to another money symbol vertically or horizontally, they link to form a group. All existing symbols in the group have their value increased when a new one is added. For example, an 8x becomes 10x, the 10x becomes Mini, a Maxi would become a Mega, and so on.
The round continues until respins run out or all positions are filled. Any money symbols that hit but don't link do not pay at the end of the round. If all positions are filled and linked, the value of all money symbols on screen are boosted to the Mega.
The Ultimate 5: Slot Verdict
At first glance, The Ultimate 5 doesn't really seem to evolve the genre much, and after playing it for a while, the original assessment still stands. However, The Ultimate 5 does have a few tricks tucked away up its sleeve that connoisseurs might appreciate. This applies to the base game and its bonus rounds, though free spins, which triggered at a noticeably less rate than the Hold & Spin, did tend to be the less exciting of the two.
The symbol removal is there in free spins, yet its random nature meant it wasn't as engaging as a collection/upgrade system as found in, say, Pink Elephants. Removals either happen or they don't; there's no real rhyme or reason to them. Also, only low pay symbols may be removed, which can be a good thing if it helps produce five animal 100x payouts. These occurred with greater frequency than originally suspected, though they weren't common by any means, though.
The Hold & Spin twist feature could be quite exciting if you can get a good flow of upgrades happening. The ultimate would be filling the board, of course, where all positions become Mega prizes. It's a little odd because technically, a full grid of Megas would be worth 7,500x, but Pragmatic has capped winnings at 5,000x, so the payout would be clipped.
The Ultimate 5 ended up being a decent enough slot with an element of novelty going on, despite the mass-produced theme and look. It might be far from a game-changer, but there is value here for players who like a slickly presented Pragmatic Play release with a couple of new-ish ways to win.
It’s no revolution, but fans of Wolf Gold style gaming might appreciate what The Ultimate 5 brings to the table.