Wilderland (NetEnt): Overview
Whatever your thoughts on NetEnt might be, you can’t deny their graphical talents. Case in point is their latest effort Wilderland. It’s really nice looking, and every aspect of it has been superbly crafted and animated. Say what you will about the rest of the game, it certainly doesn’t hurt your eyes to look at. What is more polarising is its choice of theme and gameplay. Wilderland is all about elves, fairies, magic, plant life, and pixie dust. That sort of theme will immediately attract a certain type of gamer, and that’s cool. Others will need a bit more convincing to sign up.
There have been a few high roller friendly slots rolling our way recently, and Wilderland fits in easily with that company. Those in the mood to splurge can do so with bets of up to €1000 per spin. Those on a tighter bankroll are catered for too with stakes that can be set as low as 20 p/c. For that, players get a 5 reel, 3 row game with 20 fixed paylines on which to land winners. And you will need at least 3 of a kind to trigger a payout.
The paytable is rather pleasant and mixes low and high pays with the forest theme nicely. It starts with the low pays, which are your standard card suits – clubs, hearts, diamonds, and spades. But they have been intricately styled to look like a group of leaves, using all the shades from green in summer through to the brown of autumn. A small touch, but it’s appreciated. The high pays get a silver Celtic frame and include a flower ring, a pendant, a glowing bow and arrow, a fox, and an elven damsel. The damsel is the most valuable symbol, with 5 of a kind worth 6 times the stake.
We might have lost a few of you right there with that list of symbols, or, awakened a mystical yearning to don robes and prance around forests and groups of standing stones. Yeah, it’s one of those themes you either love or don’t. If the land of pixies and elves doesn’t win you over, then it’s not likely the figures and mechanics will either. The two sort of go hand in hand. While RTP sits comfortably on 96.16%, and volatility on low/medium, Wilderland just doesn’t have the much going on to back it all up.
Wilderland (NetEnt): Features
As you might have guessed from the name, Wilderland is all about wilds, in fact, you will come across 5 different wilds at various points. The regular wild is straight forward and appears on any reel during the base game or free spins and subs for any other pay symbol.
During the base game, the middle row is highlighted and is called the Activation Zone. When two or more wilds land next to each other in the Activation Zone, they activate the Forest Treasure feature and turn into one of four Walking Wild symbols. These Walking Wild symbols move one reel to the left at the start of each new spin until they drop off the grid. The four wilds in this group include a regular wild, an x2 wild, a scatter walking wild, and an expanding walking wild which is a stack of three wilds. If the stack of expanding walking wilds disappears off of reel 1, and there are no other walking wilds on the reels, it can trigger the Magic Wild feature which can make the stack reappear again on the fifth reel.
Wilderland also comes with a Free Spins feature that is triggered by three or more scatter/wild scatter symbols in view. When free spins start, a Walking Wild symbol is added to the fifth reel. If more than three scatters triggered the feature, then additional Walking Wilds or x2 Wilds are added. During free spins the Activation Zone is expanded to cover all three rows, so two adjacent wilds anywhere will trigger the Forest Treasure feature. Also, the Magic Wild feature can happen when any walking wild vanishes off reel 1 – not just the expanded variety.
Wilderland (NetEnt): Verdict
Apologies for using the word ‘wild’ 300 times in this review but it's a game that uses their singular abilities a lot. It's also hard to avoid when there are 5 different kinds on offer. So is that overkill, or some ingenious game design? The result produced mixed feelings. While on the whole it comes together and makes more sense in action, it’s not super exciting in practice. Wilderland is a little low key, and along with its pretty graphics it feels aimed at low key gamers. This type of slot will draw particular players in and grip them in its fantastical world. That doesn’t include those looking for major rewards though. A grid of premiums gets you 120 times the stake, and a bunch of x2 wild multipliers can improve that, but it’s not a high paying slot.
NetEnt sure know how to paint a pretty picture though. Wilderland is a real looker, with silky smooth animations, symbols, imagery, and a background that glows. You can feel the magic lurking under every rock, behind every tree, and the game world sparkles and pulls you in. Like a big warm duvet on a cold winter morning, you want to wrap that thing around you and forget about the outside world. It is too bad that Wilderland squanders that feeling by being more style than substance. How many times during testing did eyes wander to the tv, or some trivial thought divert us with a quick Google search? In short, Wilderland’s magical world might grab your attention initially, but the lack of excitement and potential evaporates it real fast.
On the surface, Wilderland may be a class act, but its gameplay and rewards fail to measure up to the enchanting world it’s set in.