- "That thing is huge; and built to fight."
- ―Aloy, upon sighting a Thunderjaw
The Thunderjaw is a category of machine in Horizon Zero Dawn. It is a large Combat Class machine, one of the two largest known machine of this class. Like other combat machines, it was designed and developed by the artificial intelligence (AI) HEPHAESTUS due to its hostility toward humans for machine hunting. Its size, power, and array of highly damaging attacks make it the most feared machine among the tribes, so much so that it has attained an almost legendary status.
Unlike the Zero Dawn terraforming machines, which were designed and controlled by Zero Dawn’s governing AI GAIA, the Thunderjaw was designed by HEPHAESTUS, which had previously manufactured the machines under GAIA’s direction. When GAIA self-destructed, HEPHAESTUS gained absolute control over machine design and management as well as manufacture. Hostile toward humans for their predations on the terraforming machines for parts and resources, HEPHAESTUS made the machines hostile to humans, a phenomenon the tribes call the Derangement. It then began producing Thunderjaws and other combat machines as the next logical step in protection and deterrence against hunters.
The first known sighting of Thunderjaws was in the Nora Sacred Lands on the day of the infant Aloy’s Naming Ritual. Aloy’s guardian Rost spotted two Thunderjaws in an open field as he traveled with Aloy. Thunderjaws have never been seen in the Sacred Lands since then, save the Corrupted unit that the Eclipse used to attack the Nora's Sacred Mountain; it may be surmised that Nora Braves killed them, and have vigilantly intercepted and killed any other Thunderjaws before they could enter the Sacred Lands.
The Carja hunter Ahsis, a Hawk of the Hunters Lodge, is the first known hunter to have killed a Thunderjaw. After the huge machine destroyed the Carja freehold of Morning Light, Ahsis tracked, found and engaged it. His weapons proving ineffective, he prevailed by removing and wielding its Disc Launchers against it. Unarguably the largest and most powerful machine ever successfully hunted in the Lodge’s history up to that time, the kill elevated him to the rank of Sunhawk of the Lodge.
His achievement was eventually topped by the successful hunt of another Thunderjaw. Known as Redmaw, this Thunderjaw had for years slaughtered every hunter who had attempted to kill it, earning it legendary status among Carja hunters. Eventually, Redmaw was killed by Hawk Talanah Khane Padish and her Thrush Aloy, now a highly experienced and skilled hunter. This kill came after Ahsis' failed attempt to have Talanah murdered to prevent her supplantation of him as Sunhawk, and his own demise when he himself tried to kill Redmaw.
Before Redmaw, Aloy hunted and killed a Thunderjaw herself to elevate her status in the Lodge. She also hunted one to collect its heart to give to the Shadow Carja healer Ghaliv to pay for a treatment for a sick child, to collect its mech fluid to give to the eccentric Banuk shaman Brin, and a third time to collect a mandible to be used to improve a weapon she had earned, called an Icerail. She also encountered Thunderjaws at various sites throughout the Carja Sundom. Twice she killed Corrupted Thunderjaws. The first was used by the the Eclipse to pursue the prince Itamen and his mother during their escape from Sunfall. The second was the final battle in repelling an invasion of the Nora Sacred Land by the Eclipse; assisted by Nora Braves, she killed the aforementioned Thunderjaw that the Eclipse had used to attack the the tribe’s sacred mountain, where the tribe had taken refuge. Finally, she encountered a Daemonic Thunderjaw in the Banuk region known as The Cut, and killed another Daemonic Thunderjaw as part of a three-person expedition to Cauldron EPSILON.
The Thunderjaw is a huge bipedal machine whose chassis resembles the body of a theropod dinosaur, particularly the Tyrannosaurus Rex: large and powerful hind legs, a long body, a sizable head, and a heavy tail to maintain balance. Unlike a Rex, however, Thunderjaws do not have arms or front legs. Its mouth consists of a three-mandible jaw. Twin optical sensor arrays are located on its head, in the same position where a theropod’s eyes were. Twin pulse energy cannons are mounted on its lower mandibles, and another energy beam weapon is mounted in its mouth. A radar scanner is mounted on its back, at the base of its neck. An array of Blaze canisters is on its back, heavily protected by armor plating. Under its belly is an array of similarly protected Chillwater canisters. Mounted on its hip are its most well-known weapons: Disc Launchers. On its lower back are three long, antenna-like structures. The tip of its tail is armed with a pair of scythe-like fins, which it uses along with the crushing weight of its tail for melee attacks. On its head, protected by armor, is a component known as a data nexus. Located laterally at the base of its thorax is its "heart", which is most likely its CPU. Heavy armor plating covers the entire chassis in overlapping segments, giving superb protection against all but the highest tear damage weapons. This armor also protects the machine from elemental damage.
Like most large machines, Thunderjaws are generally solitary. The only known instance of Thunderjaws congregating is at a site in a valley in the eastern region of the Sundom, where two Thunderjaws guard a herd of Lancehorns. While most of the seen Thunderjaws are scattered throughout the Sundom, a Daemonic unit exists in The Cut, and one is also found in The Longroam.
When undisturbed, Thunderjaws mill about their respective sites, their footfalls heavy enough to shake the ground, knocking over trees and smashing boulders in their way.
The Thunderjaw’s huge size, power, capacity to sustain damage and array of weapons make it one of the most formidable machines. It employs a range of powerful melee and ranged attacks. Additionally, its radar scanner allows quick detection of hunters hiding in tall grass. Unlike the radar of a Scrapper, which cannot detect still humans, the Thunderjaw’s radar can detect humans regardless of their motion. Thunderjaws have no elemental weaknesses, and are resistant to Shock.
A Thunderjaw’s major tactical weaknesses are its heart and data nexus; ranged weapon strikes on either cause significant damage once they are exposed via the removal of the armor covering them. Corresponding elemental ammunition strikes on the any of the Thunderjaw’s Chillwater or Blaze canisters cause a corresponding elemental explosion once they are similarly exposed, and can respectively induce a Burn or Freeze state. Pneumatic concussion ammunition such as Tearblast Arrows remove the Thunderjaw’s mounted weapons such as its mandibular cannons and Disc Launchers, and also remove its radar scanner.
|Name||Primary Damage||Secondary Damage||Trigger Range||Description|
|Bite Attack||250||-||11m - 17m||Snaps at enemy with mandibles|
|Charge||275||-||20m - 80m||Charges and rams enemy|
|Foot Stomp||290||50||0m - 7m||Stamps on enemy|
|Rushing Bite Attack||250||-||18m - 33m||Charges and snaps at enemy|
|Tail Slam||300||-||6m - 16m||Vertical bludgeon attack with tail|
|Tail Swipe||300||-||17m - 27m||Spinning bludgeon attack with tail|
|Name||Damage Type||Primary Damage||Secondary Damage||Trigger Range||Description|
|Disc Launcher - 360 Attack||Explosion||130||-||5m - 25m||Discs strike in a circle around chassis|
|Disc Launcher - Barrage||Explosion||130||-||20m - 80m||Discs strike in a barrage|
|Disc Launcher - Homing||Explosion||130||-||20m - 80m||Discs track enemy|
|Laser Sweep||Laser||200||130 per second||25m - 60m||Fan-shaped spread of laser beams|
|Cannon Burst - Lead Up||Projectile||60||-||20m - 80m||Rapid-fire mandibular cannon shots; head sweeps laterally|
|Cannon Burst - Side to Side||Projectile||60||-||20m - 80m||Rapid-fire mandibular cannon shots; cannons repeatedly fire left and right|
- According to a tweet from @dejongemathijs, the Thunderjaw stands at 9 meters tall, taller than a two story building, and 24 meters from head to tail. This makes it over twice the size of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
- Thunderjaws are perhaps the most well-known machines in Horizon Zero Dawn. Aloy's battle against a Thunderjaw first showcased the game at E3 2015, a massive poster of one was draped on the side of a building in Los Angeles to advertise the game at E3 2016, and the game's box art depicts Aloy hunting one.
- Thunderjaws have 271 animations, 93 destructible armor plates, 12 unique attacks, 67 visuals and 550,000 polygons.
- According to Herman Hulst, the managing director for Guerrilla Games, the Thunderjaw was the first machine implemented into the game. The total development time took a year and a half.
- Not counting Tallnecks, the Thunderjaw is the first possible large machine that Aloy can encounter. One can be found in Valleymeet east of Dawn's Sentinel.
- Thunderjaws are more common compared to other large-sized machines.
|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|