Wild Corral: Overview
UK based studio and SG Digital partner Core Gaming cranks out slots on a regular basis in partnership with SG Digital, but this is the first in their range to go fully Wild West. Central to the gameplay here is the Wild Zone feature which creates locked wilds while upgrading them to wild multipliers. Sounds promising? Let's see how it works out in practice.
Playable from 10 p/c to £/€10 per spin, Wild Corral uses a 6 reel grid with 30-paylines that turns semi-transparent when it spins so players can take in the scenery. It's a rather nice scenery too, with a backdrop that consists of a desert sunset, blazing the screen in reds, oranges, and a hint of pink accompanied by a classic Western motif that sounds like it came from The Good the Bad and the Ugly. Not quite as dramatic as the film's, but the music fits like a glove and is one of the game's strongest elements.
On the technical side of things, the RTP is disappointingly below average on 95.31%, which is a hallmark of many Core Gaming slots. The math model, meanwhile, is highly volatility, whilst the feature frequency is better balanced than others in the Core Gaming stable. This means you actually get to see them perform from time to time.
Despite the grid size, players get just 30 paylines to land wins on, feeling like a knife in a gunfight at times. Winning combinations are formed of 3 to 6 matching symbols on a payline, from the leftmost reel onwards. The symbols themselves are stalwarts of the Western genre, starting with 10-A royals in a Lucky Luke font, followed by the premiums – a damsel, a gunslinger, and a sheriff type.
The most valuable symbol is the one depicting all three characters on it. This is worth 50 times the stake for six of a kind, while the other three premiums range from 6x to 10x for a line of six. The game lives or dies by its wild, which substitutes for all other symbols except the bonus symbol.
Wild Corral: Features
Wild corral is all about its Wild Zone, which is active in the base game and expands for free spins. During the base game, the Wild Zone is highlighted by a flaming square surrounding the middle four reels. Any wild not part of a win that lands there is locked into position. It will remain locked until it is used to help make a winning combination, then it disappears from the grid.
While reels are spinning, there is a chance pistols appear to shoot at any locked wilds. Shot wilds become x2 wild multipliers, while any wild multipliers already in the zone have their value increased. If there is more than one wild multiplier on a win line, they multiply together.
The Wild Zone system is similar to the one seen in Hotline 2, though less potent, especially when you compare the free spin features. Wild Corral's free spins are triggered by the gold bar bonus symbol, which is two positions high and may land partially in view on the first and last reels - 2 half symbols in view award 8 free spins, a full and a half symbol award 10, while 2 full bonus symbols in view award 12 free spins.
Now, during the feature, the Wild Zone expands to cover all 6 reels, and locked wilds are more likely to be upgraded between free spins. Whilst in free spin mode any half scatter awards 1 free spin, a whole scatter symbols awards 2 free spins. At the end of the round, any multiplier wilds left on the reels are added together and applied to the total stake.
Wild Corral: Verdict
Wild Corral is a game where the features seem promising, but fail to hit the mark a lot of the time. On the upside, the west has been presented well, and Wild Corral isn't a game you have to wait an age for free spins to hit like in Core Gaming's now cancelled Viking Hoard slot. That one was an unbelievable test of patience. Wild Corral actually dropped free spins on the very second spin of the review. Beginners luck of course, but the feature appeared at a fairly constant rate throughout testing. It seems Core Gaming has made some positive adjustments to the math model after our criticism, making it more player-friendly.
The team could have improved Wild Corral if they had tweaked other aspects too. The sticky(ish) wilds In the Wild Zone is quite a good idea, but could have been better. For one, if they stayed sticky for the duration of free spins, the game might have been devastating. Though accusations of copying the Dead and Alive series probably would have arisen. As it is, wilds can build up pretty impressive multipliers, x12+ wasn't uncommon, and do multiply each other. Because of the low number of win ways, it is hard to link many of them up though. Then, once wilds are used, they are gone with the wind and the bonus feels pretty much over and done.
All up, Wild Corral has its moments, and there are some interesting aspects for sure even if they're tugging on a tight leash. With some fine-tuning, maybe more win ways to take advantage of the sticky wilds, it could have been more effective though.
Wild Corral makes nice use of the Western theme and exhibits some okay features, but is ultimately let down by low win ways and an overall feeling of restraint.