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.