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The Best Slots of 2019, So Far

Posted by THEPOGG on Jul 12, 2019

As 2019 reaches its halfway point we have the chance to stop and reflect on the quality of the slot games that have been released so far this year. We will do this by revealing our top 10 slot games of the year so far and in another 6 months we will have the chance to see which games are still hitting the high notes in our End of Year Review.

The first 6 months of 2019 have seen the rise of the ancient Central American civilisations with lots of new Aztec, Mayan and Incan games for us to sink our teeth into. Egypt has been long forgotten as software developers look for something similar but ultimately different for slots gamers to get excited about.

Towards the end of 2018 and into 2019 things took a Scandinavian twist. Viking games have been popular for a long time but the quality over the last year or so has been exceptional, as last week’s list of the best 10 Viking Games proved.

Another popular theme has been the Romans, with a particular focus on the gladiatorial battles that helped formed some of our favourite bonus features this year.

The big hitters of Net Entertainment and Microgaming have to now leave a space at the table for Yggdrasil and Play ‘N Go, who have both proved over the last year that when they are ambitious they are as good as any developers out there. Those two have been establishing themselves over the last year or two and it will be interesting to see if any of the new upstarts have managed to rise to challenge come the end of the year. iSoftBet and Quickspin have been knocking on the door for a long time now and could grab themselves a seat at that table if they can muster up a strong end to the year. Red Tiger hit heady heights with last year’s Pirates’ Plenty but have never rediscovered that form and BigTime Gaming have had some fantastic releases but all of them with a very similar look and features, all of which would need to see some diversification before they could compete.

The other problem that the smaller operators have is that the giants do not appear to be taking their foot off the gas. A look into what Net Entertainment have released so far this year and what is yet to come really has put them head and shoulders above the rest for 2019 so far. Sure, we don’t know how good Conan or Ozzy Osbourne are going to be but if Narcos and Scudamore’s Superstakes are anything to go by the rest of the field need to be very worried indeed, perhaps with the exception of Yggdrasil, who have already released two perfect 10 out of 10 games so far this year.

By the end of the year I would like to see 2 things released and I don’t think that either of them are asking for too much. I want to see a good Halloween and a good Christmas game. I want to be able to update those two lists this year and not have to include games that are 10 years old.

However, what I realistically think can be achieved is maintaining the quality that we have already seen this year. 6 games with perfect scores, well let’s make it 12. 9 (possibly 10) games with 9 out of 10, let’s see if we can make it 20.

The final top 10 list released at the end of the year will have the top 5 games released in order of just how good we think they are with the slot game coming in at number 1 crowned as our game of the year. For this list of 10, the games will be placed in no specific order, but I will explain what it was that impressed us so much about them.

Scudamore’s Super Stakes

Released at the beginning of 2019, Scudamore’s Super Stakes got Net Entertainment off to the best possible start, allowing them to lead the pack from the moment that starter’s pistol fired. The first thing to remember here is there are almost no good horse racing games out there, which I am assuming is because if you are into horse racing then there is an alternate betting option already out there for you. What we liked about his game were the features. A bonus where you can actually bet on a horse and then watch it race. And then there is the betting option where you gamble on how many of a certain symbol will appear over a certain number of spins. For a game to get 10 out of 10 the features need to be something special and in this case Net Entertainment have made features that are utterly engaging, and most importantly of all, can only work with this particular game. Hands down, this is the best horse racing slot you can play, something I can’t see changing any time soon.

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Champions of Rome

Champions of Rome is another early release and signalled just how competitive Yggdrasil were going to be in 2019. We’ve seen great things from the company over the last few years and this game signalled that 2019 was going to be no different. The game looks as good an anything Yggdrasil have ever released and like all their standout titles this one makes the most of the features that it offers. Actual gladiator fights built into the bonuses means that we have another game that applies its theme to its features in a way that makes it entirely unique. This gained a perfect score from us and won’t be the last you see of Yggdrasil in our best slot games of the first half of 2019.

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Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs

There have been a number of Lara Croft Tomb Raider slot games over the years but I would argue that this Microgaming release is the best of the lot. Like all the slot games that you are going to find on this list Lara Croft: Temples and Tombs looks the part. There’s a good chance that this is going to be the only Egyptian themed game on our list and even then it is more Lara than Cleopatra. What I liked most about this slot were the little touches. There weren’t as many game defining features as some of the other slots on this list but every feature that it does have comes with a kicker of some sort that elevates what can be won and as such makes each feature that little bit more exciting. That lack of a big central feature is what prevented this slot from gaining the full 10 out of 10 and it remains to be seen if Lara will be capable of clinging on to the end of the year.

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You know, I hate to have to say this, but you are just going to have to get used to seeing Net Entertainment games on this list because those guys have been absolutely on it this year. However, it has been a few weeks since I reviewed Narcos and that has allowed me some time to considered whether I loved the slot because it was a good slot or because I loved Narcos. Features range from the Drive By to the Locked Up feature, which once again signal an intelligent attempt to bring the features in line with the game’s central themes. Add to all of that a slots gaming experience that is fun and engaging and you don’t need to love the show to love the slot.

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Dead or Alive II

If you thought we were about to move away from Net Entertainment then you better start thinking again as it is simply not possible to create any sort of balance in a list that they deserve to dominate. This game has been a long time coming for a lot of slots fans as the original has to go down as a slot classic, one that is still a favourite for many 10 years down the line. Whilst it is not quite up there with a few of Net Entertainment’s better releases this year it is still one of the 10 best slots that I have seen so far. In this instance there is no bonus game and I suspect that this may cost Dead or Alive II a place on our final list.

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Jackpot Raiders

This is the second Yggdrasil game on the list with another perfect 10 out 10 and sees the software magicians well and truly at their mesmeric best. This game is all about the bonus. You have choices and there are levels and you have a character who needs to traverse vines, rickety bridges and canyons. Add to all of this a stunning looking slot game and it is very difficult to imagine that this slot won’t make it onto the final 10 at the end of the year.

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Arcane Reel Chaos

The moment I saw this game. The moment I saw that opening sequence, I had a sneaky suspicion I was going to have to award a perfect score. This game has it all, and is helped along quite emphatically by its own narrative. There is nothing I like more in a slot game than a plot that is properly exploited. As much a computer game as it is slot game, Arcane Reel Chaos sees you take on 4 different bad guys over 4 levels within the Free Spins game. The Arcane Reel Chaos slot is as much about story telling as it is about software design and as such has to be considered one of the single best slots released so far in 2019.

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This game is a total curve ball and it will be interesting to see if it can still make our list come the end of the year. I’m not too sure about the music, but I do love the game and believe that Play ‘N Go should be counting this as their best releases of the year to date. I also think that Sabaton should be really really chuffed with the job that the software developers have done here. I said that I loved Narcos and was worried that this might have been because I loved the show, so in this particular instance there can be no doubt that bias is not in play as the subject doesn’t really float my boat. The game is filled with features and it looks incredible. I scored this 9 out of 10 without liking the music, which could mean that for some people this game is as good as it gets.

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Wild Worlds

This is the final Net Entertainment game on the list and our second last entry in total. All the other Net Ent games so far have been quite serious. In fact, all the games on this list have been quite serious, so it is refreshing to have something a little more light-hearted. The Wild Worlds slot game has a cartoon aesthetic and like some of the other 10 out of 10 games on the list has found itself on this list because of the quality of those features. Again, you have levels and bad guys and an overall narrative that takes the design of this game up to a level that most other slot games simply cannot get anywhere near.

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Rumble Rhino

There are so many slot games that will be bouncing up and down shouting “pick me!” as the final spot on our top 10 best games of 2019 is announced and so many of them deserve it because we have been thoroughly spoilt this year. However, I have decided to give the last spot to a game that does something that no other game does and few gambling associated businesses do either. The game itself is excellent but what makes Rumble Rhino special is that they give a percentage of their profits to the charity: Save the Rhino. No other slot game that I am aware of does this, making Rhino Rumble fully deserving of a place on our list.

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With half the spaces on this list taken up by Net Entertainment slot games it is safe to say that they have more than made the most of 2019 so far. They are of course the biggest slot developers out there so it is hardly surprising that this has happened. However, a few of their games are clinging on in there, meaning there is still time for other companies to upset the balance and if anyone is going to manage that, it may well end up being Yggdrasil, whose output might not be as prolific but is consistently excellent.

I would just like to add that this list was complied on June the 24th and only includes games that were released prior to that date. I say this knowing that I am yet to review some games that were released today that could have been good enough to claim a spot on this list.

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