Thunderlord Exotic Review v.2

“They rest quiet on fields afar…for this is no ending, but the eye.”

Thunderlord is one of the two Heavy Exotic Machine Guns currently in the game, this one deals Arc damage.

This weapon can be acquired as a random reward from the Crucible or PvE content, or from Xûr for 17 Strange Coins.


The good: High stability, Impact, range, & quick reload speed.

The bad: Lightning Rounds isn’t as useful in PvP.

Conclusion: Almost perfect.

Read the full review here

This is an Exotic Weapon
Machine Gun (Heavy Weapon)
Arc Base Damage/Upgraded302/331
Quality Lvl70
Rate of Fire
Magazine Size

Aim Assist
Equip Speed

Talent Upgrades Tree

Arc Damage

This weapon causes Arc damage.

Accurized Ballistics

More range and Impact. Increased recoil.

+5% Damage
+10 Range
-10 Stability

Feeding Frenzy

Kills with this weapon increase reload speed for a short time.

Boosts reload speed to 120% of base after a kill

Upgrade Damage 1

Increases Attack Power, resulting in more Damage.

Perfect Balance

This weapon has extremely low recoil.

+35 Stability

Lightning Rounds

This weapon fires faster and more accurately the longer the trigger is held.

Upgrade Damage 2

Increases Attack Power, resulting in more Damage.

Upgrade Damage 3

Increases Attack Power, resulting in more Damage.

Field Choke

More range and impact. Increased recoil.

+5% Damage
+12 Range
-15 Stability

Field Scout

Maximum ammo capacity increased.

+100 Magazine
+80 Inventory

Upgrade Damage 4

Increases Attack Power, resulting in more Damage.

Linear Compensator

More predictable recoil. Slight boosts to range and Impact. More recoil.

+5% Damage
+5 Range
-10 Stability

Flared Magwell

Reload this weapon even faster.

+100 Reload

Upgrade Damage 5

Increases Attack Power, resulting in more Damage.

Video Review

Weapon Review

Thunderlord is an Arc Exotic machine gun that can be obtained randomly (unlike Super Good Advice) through PvE/PvP, or from Xûr when he decides to sell it.

Its quick reload speed upon killing an enemy and increasing rate of fire makes it overachieve at mowing down your foes. It’s definitely one of the most well known Exotics, and arguably the best machine gun.

Recommended Perks

Linear Compensator
+5% Damage
+5 Range
-10 Stability

Field Scout
Increases magazine size to 60

The Good

Thunderlord‘s magazine size seems modest for a machine gun, but each bullet strikes like lightning, and it demolishes Arc shields. The weapon is extremely balanced and superb at almost any range.

Its first special ability, Feeding Frenzy, ensures quick killing by reducing the weapon’s base reload speed from 4.6 seconds to 3.4 seconds for roughly 7 seconds.

This machine gun nearly has the quickest reload speed of any machine gun, only slightly slower than Song of Ir Yût (full review).

Its second ability, Lightning Rounds, increases the weapon’s fire rate and stability for every sixteen rounds fired without lifting your finger from the trigger. Combined with Field Scout for maximum firing speed, these two signature abilities will allow you to swiftly dispatch enemies and reload to quickly continue your onslaught.

The base rate of fire is slow, not the lowest, but it’s definitely in the high Impact/low RoF archetype.

As you’d expect, the stability is respectable as well, and it can be increased using Perfect Balance. Both Accurized Ballistics and Linear Compensator have the same stability stat, but the recoil is easier to manage with LC.
thunderlord pve damage
The high Impact will lead to tier 1 level 30 enemies taking 340 body damage and 849 on a critical hit. It should only take a maximum of 2-5 shots to down a tier 1 enemy. Tier 2 (yellow health enemies will take 306 to the body and 382 to the head.

In PvP you’ll hit for 51 to the body shots and 64 on a critical, which ironically doesn’t matter, since it takes 4 shots either way. This is one of the strengths of Thunderlord in PvP; it provides consistent damage as long as you can hit your target.

The range on this machine gun is above average, almost tied with Jolder’s Hammer and just below Against All Odds.

If you’re a fan of aim assistance, Thunderlord has the highest AA out of all machine guns.

The Bad

The fact that it takes up your Exotic slot is basically the only major gripe we have with it.

Thunderlord is excellent at dispatching the soldiers of the Darkness, but because it does that so effectively, there’s few times when you’ll be able to take full advantage of Lightning Rounds. It’s a great perk, and the hidden Firefly-esque explosions are great, but the increased speed will mostly be reserved for bosses.
thunderlord vs super good advice
The Flared Magwell ability is probably the least valuable in the talent tree, as it barely adds any value once you’ve unlocked Feeding Frenzy. Flared Magwell + Feeding Frenzy will result in a 3.3 second reload speed, rather than 3.9 seconds without Feeding Frenzy.

As mentioned above, the stability isn’t bad, but its actually the lowest in comparison to the other machine guns in its same rate of fire archetype. Perfect Balance will help to alleviate the recoil but its not a huge issue since enemies will die so quickly anyway.


At first glance, this weapon looks slick, and the small streaks of lightning emitting from it intensify as the weapon is fired.

Each round fired from the weapon causes a short burst of lightning to erupt from the barrel, which may distract from the brief blue trail behind your bullets.

The defining aesthetic feature of Thunderlord is the distinguishable sound of it firing. It’s as pleasing to hear the thunderous crescendo in your hands as it is terrifying to hear on the opposing Crucible team.


Thunderlord is truly the king of machine guns and is the perfect weapon for tearing through enemies with minimal downtime. Its name is only matched by the percussive sound of each shot rattling through the battlefield.

Its position as a heavy weapon makes it less than ideal as the weapon to take up your Exotic slot, and you won’t want to keep it equipped until you really need it, but when that time comes you won’t be disappointed.

thunderlord exotic weapon review
Print your own Thunderlord!

Is it worth buying/using? Absolutely… But is it easily replaceable? Yep. In PvP a machine gun like THE SWARM or Deviant Gravity-A will take down enemies just as quick.

For PvP this weapon earns a 9.2/10 and for PvE a 9.4/10.

Patrick Casey

Howdy! I am a contributing writer. If you think I overlooked something about a weapon, feel free to comment below and let me know. I’ll see you in the Crucible.


  • Alex Davis

    Totally agree with the review. I personally love Thunderlord, my only problem with it is the named perk kicking in so late with such little mag size w/o field scout. I’d say either increase the mag size from 38 to something like 50 or have lightning rounds kick in sooner.

    Other than that though it’s amazing.

    • Finlay Jones

      I find lightning rounds a malus, not a bonus.

      The strength of the gun is like a beastly scout rifle, popping off precision shots.

      If you just hold the trigger down for lightning rounds, you miss out on so much damage due to the instability.

  • Ash_Killem

    i don’t think the magazine size is all that bad when you consider the impact and compare it to other LMGs like Again All Odds and Deviant Gravity. Field Scout is just a bonus.

  • Thiago123

    Spot on. Thunderlord is an excellent MG, but not SO much better than a Legendary with good stats that you’d be willing to spend your exotic slot on. Mine barely sees any action. In PVP it takes a back seat to Against All Odds (rolled one with incredible perks) so that I can use Thorn, Invective, Plan C, etc. And in PVE it pretty much only comes out for Arc Burn Nightfalls since Icebreaker is so much more versatile (I don’t have ballerhorn lol).

    With that said, it’s still worth the purchase and fun to play with.

    • Hitherto

      Same here. I got Against All Odds with void damage and perfect balance. In PvP I’ll always go for AAO, so I can use my MIDA Multi Tool. Thunderlord is a beast though!

  • Lee Juriet

    This weapon and my inability to get it are clues that the RNG is busted for me… I’ve been playing since day one, seen multiple people get this, and, along with Hard Light and Universal Remote, never have been able to get for myself.

    • Christian

      Same here. I got Hardlight, but through sheer luck. Because this is a mass complained feature you can bet that Bungie will set it straight eventually. I don’t mind the first game being a little messy, It’s a pretty surreal concept that does require a lot of effort to make work. But, you can bet on the fact it wont be so RNG the next time around 🙂

    • GandalfTheOrange

      And me on the other hand, I’m a holiday sale noob who got this off a legendary engram that fell off a normal mob. Bungie needs to up the drop rates, especially since you are limited to one exotic armor and one exotic weapon. What’s the harm in dropping exotic more frequently, given that we can’t abuse them? Blizzard FINALLY got this right with Diablo 3. Hopefully Bungie will wisen up and fix the main problem with this otherwise amazing game.

  • Octus

    I love this weapon. Its so awesome for anything with an arc shield during a nightfall, and if there is arc burn nothing works as well as this weapon IMO.

  • Matt Dunnigan

    I never got this weapon ever since Bungie’s RNG system is f***in terrible. I just hope Xur would sell this at least once. I would love to have this weapon any time.

    • He will, eventually 🙂

      • Matt Dunnigan

        I wouldn’t hold my breath for that but I’ll keep my hopes up

        • Fredo Gallardo

          Just got it from Nightfall last night <3

  • Tuto

    They forgot to add the secret perk lightning explosions that are random but frequent.

    • A

      It’s mentioned both in the article and video

  • Drakan

    Just wanted to write how much I love this webpage and kudos to the web owner for publishing such interesting information regularly (daily).

    • Thanks for the support man

    • Co

      I like to joke about how PD has more content than the game itself… then i start crying when i realize i’m not joking.

      Props to Ryan tho, great site.

  • Diffractions

    Glad you finally did justice to this gun. Your last review on this gun was atrocious.

  • Dan

    I got this as a Crucible drop. I dabbled with it a little here and there, upgraded it, but didn’t use it fully until an Arc burn Nightfall. I soloed it along with my Fatebringer. Wow, this thing is a beast! One of my favorite exotics to use. Second favorite heavy, just behind Gjallahorn

  • Grymwulf

    “Its position as a heavy weapon makes it less than ideal as the weapon to
    take up your Exotic slot, and you won’t want to keep it equipped until
    you really need it, but when that time comes you won’t be disappointed.”

    This is pretty much my gripe with ALL exotic weapons…I can understand not allowing players to equip more than one piece of exotic armor, since that could become overpowered very quickly. But I fail to understand why we can’t equip all exotic weapons. It’s not like we’re going to be using 3 exotic weapons at the same time, you still have to switch between them.

    All that the “one exotic weapon” rule does is force you to go in to your character screen to swap weapons, which takes a few seconds at most. It just seems silly to me. I think by doing away with that restriction, Bungie could really reward players who have put a lot of time in to collecting exotic weapons. It’s a small change that really wouldn’t impact the game very much, and would make it much more enjoyable.

    • GandalfTheOrange

      Great point. Maybe if they institute a 5 to 10 second cooldown on firing if you switch from exotic to exotic?

    • MakkinjeM

      And next to that on the OP topic; If everybody has this advantage, it isn’t an unfair advantage anymore, but a tactical choise. On the other hand; except for perhaps some raid weapons, Legendaries will become practically useless if Exotics aren’t limited to one. Perhaps allow 2 exotic weapons per guardian?

  • Lassiterman

    Thanks for this review, i enjoy all of them. Can you do an updated Pocket Infinity Review? I’m trying to decide on it or invective, but the old review is outdated.

  • Guest

    I have 3 Gigity-Horns: 1 from Atheon (normal), 1 From Corta (hard) and 1 from a legendary Engram. It seems like it’s all RNG.

  • Kenshiro Genjuro

    The lighting graphics would justify purchase all by itself…

    • Kenshiro Genjuro

      But it’s even nicer when you don’t have to. (ie RNGesus)

      I remember this post. Great gun.

  • GandalfTheOrange

    This dropped for me off of a legendary engram drop. Extremely lucky first exotic weapon for me!

  • metalman5150

    week of 3-03-15. Nightfall – Sepiks Prime with arc burn.
    Thunderlord crits for 1000+ dmg with weapons of light active.
    Simply brutal

  • WhittyRemarx

    ProTip: Spec extended mags and reload. Then switch to Perfect Balance. 60 round mag AND increased stability o.0

    Use wisely.

  • Kenshiro Genjuro

    This just dropped for me during this week’s nightfalls. Praise RNGesus! :-I

    • Guest

      Finally got the drop from nightfall last night too. Can’t wait to level up perks and mow down arc shielded knights!