Horizon Zero Dawn Machine Report – Thunderjaw, Tallneck, Deathbringer

A deep dive into three of Horizon Zero Dawn's mechanical beasts.

Posted By | On 29th, Jan. 2022

Horizon Zero Dawn Machine Report – Thunderjaw, Tallneck, Deathbringer

Excellent storytelling, gorgeous visuals, thrilling combat- there’s no shortage of reasons to play Horizon Zero Dawn, or to look forward to its imminent sequel. But the biggest draw of them all is, of course, the machines. That was what caught the attention of the masses back when Sony and Guerrilla Games revealed the game back in 2015, and that’s what has continued to capture everyone’s imagination to this day. Ahead of Horizon Forbidden West’s looming launch, in this multi-part series, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the most impressive and memorable machines in the series so far, starting with three deep dives here.

THUNDERJAW

Horizon: Zero Dawn

The tyrannosaurus rex-based Thunderjaw is probably one of the most instantly recognizable Horizon machines, and the one that gets associated with the series most often. It was, after all, the very first machine that Guerrilla made for the game, and the machine that they revealed it with. Easily one of the biggest, deadliest, and most hostile machines you can run into in the game, the Thunderjaw is a formidable foe with a variety of attacks that it can unleash to quickly overwhelm its goes.

Its size makes it a major threat in and of itself, of course, and it can use that size to deadly effect. Even taking cover behind walls or trees isn’t a sureshot way of getting out of its line of sight, because it can easily knock that stuff down by running right into it. Add to that its melee attacks – from foot stomps to deadly charges to swings of its massive tails to hard-hitting bites – and staying anywhere in its vicinity for more than even a couple of seconds is sure to send you to a quick death.

Of course, dealing with a Thunderjaw from a distance isn’t exactly easy either. The machine is equipped with a vast array of weaponry, including lasers, machine guns, cannons, turrets, and of course, a deadly disc launcher. You can try and use some of that against it to deal some good damage, but that’s not exactly an easy task either. All of that, combined with its vast pool of health (and its inherent aggression) makes it one of the deadliest machines in Horizon Zero Dawn– especially if you run into a Corrupted or Daemonic variant. The fact that the Thunderjaw doesn’t have an out-and-out elemental weakness either makes it that much more deadly.

From a lore perspective, too, the Thunderjaw is a fascinating monstrosity. Created by Hephaestus as part of what came to be known as the Derangement, the Thunderjaw was designed by its AI creator to be the ultimate predator, as a means to fight back against human aggression against machines.

TALLNECK

horizon zero dawn

Of the many, many machines in Horizon Zero Dawn, the Tallneck is the only one in the entire game that cannot be killed or harmed, and the only one that never turns hostile to anything or anyone no matter what. Created by Gaia as a communications center for other machines in and around its vicinity, a Tallneck serves only one purpose. These massive, majestic, beautiful giraffe-like machines mill about their designated areas in set patterns, and once overridden, provide detailed information of nearby points of interest.

From a gameplay perspective, a Tallneck is essentially Horizon Zero Dawn’s equivalent of an open world tower that you climb to lift some of the fog of war from an area of a map- but as we’ve said a few times in the past, it’s probably one of the most creative and unique takes on that well-worn (and often overused) concept. Laying your eyes on a massive Tallneck from a distance is a sight to behold, getting to the top of one of these is always an enjoyable exercise, and of course, studying the land around you from the top is breathtaking as well.

Interestingly, early on in Horizon Zero Dawn’s development, Guerrilla had planned on letting players damage and even destroy Tallnecks- but owing to the completely peaceful and docile nature of these machines, the developers ultimately decided that it would be a little but out of character for Aloy to want to harm them. Whether or not we do end up crossing paths with maybe a corrupted Tallneck in Horizon Forbidden West (or some other future instalment in the series) remains to be seen- but honestly, we’ll be happy to see them come back in the exact same capacity.

DEATHBRINGER

horizon zero dawn

Deathbringers are pretty different from almost all other machines that you cross paths with in Horizon Zero Dawn. While most of the mechanical beasts in the game are based on animal-like designs and made by either Gaia or Hephaestus, Deathbringers were made centuries before any of those two AIs (or the machines they spawned) ever existed. These man-made war machines were developed by Faro Automated Solutions, and served purely destructive purposes.

Armed with an impressive array of weaponry that includes everything from flamethrowers, grenade launchers, and rocket launchers to turrets, machine guns, and cannons, Deathbringers were also capable of other things- such as being able to consume biomass as fuel, being able to replicate and hack into enemy machines to bring them under their control, and being protected by encryption code  that was nearly impossible to crack. These were all defining traits of all Faro-developed machines, of course, and these properties were what eventually led to the Faro Plague, and the eventual destruction of the world.

By the time Horizon Zero Dawn kicked off, Deathbringers (alongside other Faro machines) had been inert and buried for many centuries, but under the orders of the rogue AI Hades, were brought back by the Eclipse. Aloy goes up against Deathbringers on a couple of occasions in Horizon Zero Dawn, and fights against these huge machines, armed to the teeth (so to speak) are no walks in the park. It helps, of course, that they’re weak to fire and shock elemental attacks, while the fact that they often overheat and end up needing to cool down also means that they are weak to attacks for some brief windows.

Even so, what with their massive health pools, and the fact that they cannot be overridden, Deathbringers are easily some of the deadliest machines in the entire game. Interestingly, while Guerrilla has confirmed that Thunderjaws and Tallnecks are both going to return in Horizon Forbidden West, we don’t yet know whether that will be true of Deathbringers as well.


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