The Stormbird is a category of machine in Horizon Zero Dawn. It is a large aerial Combat Class machine, one of two large machines of this class. Its ability to fly distinguishes it from other machines of this class, including the other large combat machine, the Thunderjaw. Its huge size, intimidating appearance, superior field of vision due to being aerial, and array of powerful attacks make it a lethal threat to any human who enters an area over which a Stormbird patrols.
Stormbirds were not created as combat machines. Instead they were originally Zero Dawn terraformers, designed by Zero Dawn’s governing AI GAIA to work under its subordinate function AETHER, to detoxify Earth’s atmosphere, which was ravaged by the Faro Plague. However, when GAIA self-destructed, HEPHAESTUS, GAIA’s erstwhile subordinate function responsible for manufacturing Zero Dawn’s terraforming machines, gained control over machine manufacture and management at at least five Zero Dawn cauldrons. Deeming humans a threat to Zero Dawn for their hunting of machines, HEPHAESTUS made the machines produced at these cauldrons hostile toward humans. The tribe’s refer to this phenomenon as the Derangement. It then began producing combat machines of various sizes and abilities as further protection and deterrence against machine hunting. It weaponized Stormbirds, remodeling them from aerial detoxifiers to powerful aerial combat machines.
The Nora huntress Aloy hunted Stormbirds three times. One instance was to elevate her status in the Carja Hunters Lodge, after becoming the Thrush of then Hawk and subsequent Sunhawk Talanah Khane Padish. Another was to collect its mech fluid to give to the eccentric Banuk shaman Brin. The third time was to collect a talon to be used to improve a weapon she had been given called a Stormslinger. Additionally, she encountered and Stormbird at the abandoned workshop of the rogue Oseram warlord Dervahl, high on the Eastern Ridge, north of the Oseram freehold Pitchcliff. A Stormbird was the final machine she encountered and killed at the end of the route known as the Bitter Climb. Finally, she fought and killed a Corrupted Stormbird during the defense of the Carja capital Meridian against an assault by the cult known as the Eclipse.
Stormbirds are raptorial in appearance. Indeed, while machines generally resemble some form of pre-Zero Day animal life, the Stormbird's appearance does this more than any other known machine. Its resemblance to a bird of prey is unmistakable, with raptorial wings, tail, head and beak, armor plating that resembles feathers, and taloned feet. It has two optical sensor arrays positioned in the same place as the eyes of an eagle or falcon. Above each shoulder is an armored Chillwater canister. Each wing is equipped with three feather-shaped jet engines. The wings are equipped with winglets, enhancing their aerodynamic efficiency. An armored Blaze canister is positioned above each hip. Each of the four toes on each foot is equipped with a talon. In the center of the chest is an armored electrical energy projectile weapon known as a lighting gun, with which it can fire powerful blasts of electrical energy, similar to a Shell-Walker.
Stormbirds are solitary; at no time have they ever been seen to congregate. They circle high overhead at their respective sites, never landing except to attack a perceived enemy. Stormbird sites are scattered throughout the Carja Sundom, from The Jewel to the mountains far north of Meridian. They are mainly found in the arid regions north and northeast of Meridian. Though they have never been seen active in The Cut, the chassis of one, long destroyed and heavily encrusted with Bluegleam, is at the end of the pilgrimage route known as the Shaman’s Path.
Stormbirds employ powerful electric attacks from the air, such as carpet bombing with electrical energy projectiles, and equally powerful melee attacks on the ground using their beaks, talons, and tails. Additionally they employ their wings as weapons by using them to generate damaging wind gusts, and to execute air-to-ground melee attacks. They can also use their weight to crush an enemy that moves directly beneath them while airborne. They possess no elemental weaknesses, and are resistant to Shock damage.
Removal of all six jet engines on a Stormbird’s wings disables their air-to-ground and carpet bombing attacks. Destroying the lightning gun disables a Stormbird’s electrical energy attacks and deals Shock damage to the machine. Strikes on its Blaze and Chillwater canisters with the corresponding elemental ammunition cause corresponding elemental explosions and respectively induce Burn and Freeze states.
- Stormbirds bear a resemblance to thunderbirds, a legendary creature in certain North American indigenous peoples' history and culture. They are considered supernatural beings of great power and strength.
- However, Stormbirds are more likely designed after Hast Eagles, an extinct species of gigantic aquiline bird that once served as the apex predator of prehistoric New Zealand.
- A Stormbird can be fought before gaining entrance to the GAIA Prime facility. If, however, the player heads to this area before the intended time in the story, the cutscene showing the Stormbird's arrival will play, and the machine can be engaged then and there. The Stormbird will stay destroyed and will not need to be fought again later.
- A Stormbird's flight altitude is at least three times higher than that of a Glinthawk.
- The corrupted Stormbird encountered during The Face of Extinction had a challenge level of 40, higher than a Daemonic Thunderjaw, and the second highest in the game, after the Fireclaw.
- A Stormbird's optical sensor arrays are the same as the Trampler's.
|Acquisition Class||Broadhead - Charger - FireclawFW - FrostclawFW - Glinthawk - Grazer - Lancehorn - Rockbreaker - Scrapper - Snapmaw - Strider - Trampler|
|Combat Class||Ravager - Sawtooth - ScorcherFW - Stalker - Stormbird - Thunderjaw|
|Recon Class||Longleg - Watcher (Redeye Watcher)|
|Transport Class||Behemoth - Fire Bellowback - Freeze Bellowback - Shell-Walker|
|Chariot Class||Corrupted Machines - Corruptor - Deathbringer - Metal Devil|
|Unknown Class||Control TowerFW|