- "That thing is huge; and built to fight."
- ―Aloy, upon sighting a Thunderjaw
The Thunderjaw is a machine in Horizon Zero Dawn. It is considered an Apex Combat machine, meaning that it is one of the largest and most dangerous of all machines. Its size, power, and an array of highly damaging attacks, both ranged and melee, make it the most feared machine among the tribes, so much so that the machine has attained an almost legendary status.
The Thunderjaw is a huge bipedal machine with features akin to those of a theropod dinosaur, particularly the Tyrannosaurus Rex: powerful and bulky legs, a long body, and a heavy tail to maintain equilibrium. As its name suggests, the head of the Thunderjaw features two sets of appendages resembling mandibles that spread to the sides when it roars.
Its visual sensor array is composed of six sensors on each side of the head, arranged in a staggered vertical configuration of three side by side. Twin cannons are affixed to the sides of its mandibles, one on each side. There is an additional energy beam weapon in its mouth. 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. Attached to each hip is a weapon known as a Disc Launcher. On its lower back are three long, antenna-like structures. The tip of its tail is armed with a pair of scythe-like fins, used in combat when the Thunderjaw swings its tail.
The Thunderjaw seems to be a much larger and more combat-oriented cousin of the Watcher, as both resemble theropod dinosaurs, have no forelimbs, a long tail, and scanning equipment in their heads.
Like the Sawtooth, the Thunderjaw only began to appear in recent years after the Derangement, an event in which the HEPHAESTUS subordinate function (now with a consciousness of its own and without GAIA's guidance) deemed humanity a threat and commanded GAIA's machines to attack humans on sight. Additionally, it started designing and building more aggressive, combat-oriented machines. Possibly developed from unused terraforming designs, the Thunderjaw represents the pinnacle of the combat class, potentially surpassing the fighting capabilities of even the FAS-FSP5 Khopesh. It shakes the earth with every step and few enemies, mechanical or organic, dare attack it.
According to Hunters Lodge manuscripts, Ahsis was the first human to ever face and bring down a Thunderjaw, and its wrecked carcass now hangs from the ceiling of the Hunters Lodge HQ. Although this event was the first time the Carja ever encountered Thunderjaws, the machines existed some time earlier; a pair of Thunderjaws were seen in the Nora territory of the Embrace on the day of Aloy's Naming Ritual, over 9 years earlier.
At one point, a Thunderjaw known as Redmaw terrorized the Sundom. Many hunting parties were sent out to kill it but to no avail, giving it a reputation among the Carja as a legendary, immortal beast. Eventually tracked down, Ahsis and Talanah of the Hunters' Lodge both went to take the monster down, and it was destroyed by Talanah and Aloy after it fatally wounded Ahsis.
Like all machines with the exception of the Tallneck, a Thunderjaw will attack a human on sight. The Thunderjaw is armed with a variety of weapons and will employ an array of ranges and melee attacks.
- Ranged attacks
- Disc Launcher: A pair of launchers that fire hovering discs. These hover above and fire powerful energy beams at the enemy. Homing, Barrage, 360 Attack.
- Cannon Burst: The cannons mounted on the sides of the Thunderjaw's mandibles, after a brief charging-up, discharge a rapid burst of blue energy blasts. Lead Up, Side to Side.
- Laser Sweep: Like the mandibular cannons, the Thunderjaw will charge up these energy weapons briefly before blasting the target with golden energy beams in a fan pattern.
- Bite Attack: The Thunderjaw snaps at at the enemy with its mandibles.
- Rushing Bite Attack: The Thunderjaw charges and snaps at the enemy.
- Charge: The Thunderjaw rams the enemy with its sheer weight and size.
- Foot Stomp: The Thunderjaw shakes the ground with a powerful foot stomp, disrupting the enemy's ability to stand and move.
- Tail Slam: The Thunderjaw brings its tail down on a target, crushing it.
- Tail Swipe: The Thunderjaw swings its tail, sending a target flying.
- Defense: The Thunderjaw is heavily armored and very resistant to damage. It is also very resistant to shock weapons.
- Utility: The Thunderjaw is equipped with a radar scanner that, when activated, will detect even hidden threats such as Aloy if she is concealed in tall grass.
Weaknesses and Tactics
Engaging a Thunderjaw is a protracted battle due to its high capacity to sustain damage before being destroyed. The machine's only weaknesses are its data nexus, a component in its head, and its heart. Direct hits to these components will damage the machine much more than strikes to other parts of the chassis. However, these parts are protected by thick armor plating, which must be removed to expose them first before they can be targeted. Tear Arrows from the Carja or Shadow Sharpshot Bow or blasts from the Tearblaster will remove the armor. Heavy tie-down ropes from the Shadow Ropecaster will restrain the Thunderjaw, negating its attacks while this is done.
There are also multiple Freeze Canisters at the bottom of the Thunderjaw's chassis, but it is not recommended to shoot this target, seeing as it is directly underneath the Thunderjaw. Blaze canisters are located near the thighs of the Thunderjaw and Power cells on the tail, but all these targets are extremely hard to hit and caution must be taken when aiming for them.
While its disc launchers are formidable offensive weapons, they may be removed and used against the Thunderjaw. Tear Arrows from the Carja or Shadow Sharpshot Bow or blasts from the Tearblaster will remove them from the Thunderjaw's chassis. They may then be picked up and the discs fired at the Thunderjaw, inflicting heavy damage. However, the player must first locate them wherever they landed. Again, heavy tie-down ropes from the Shadow Ropecaster will restrain the Thunderjaw, negating its attacks while this is done.
- 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 famous machines in Horizon Zero Dawn. Aloy's battle with 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 fighting one.
- Thunderjaws have 271 animations, 93 destructible armor plates, 12 unique attacks, 67 visuals and 550,000 polygons.
- If one wants to easily bring down a Thunderjaw, it is highly recommended to acquire the Shield Weaver suit, which gives Aloy a powerful rechargeable personal energy shield that will absorb multiple hits from even the Thunderjaw's main weapons and will prevent her from being knocked over by the Thunderjaw's ranged attacks.
|Acquisition Class||Broadhead - Charger - Glinthawk - Grazer - Lancehorn - Rockbreaker - Scrapper - Snapmaw - Strider - Trampler|
|Combat Class||Ravager - Sawtooth - Stalker - Stormbird - Thunderjaw|
|Recon Class||Longleg - Watcher (Redeye Watcher) - Tallneck|
|Transport Class||Behemoth - Fire Bellowback - Freeze Bellowback - Shell-Walker|
|Chariot Class||Corrupted Machines - Corruptor - Deathbringer - Metal Devil|