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Destiny 2 Thunderlord review

Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening

Thunderlord in Destiny 2 Bungie/Activision

Thunderlord is the original Exotic in Destiny, the first one players ever got to see in the game’s first gameplay demo. Now it’s back in Destiny 2 as this game’s first machine gun weapon (more are coming in the Black Armory DLC). But the Thunderlord of Destiny past has seen a significant upgrade in the sequel. Let’s get into it.

How do you get Thunderlord?

You earn Thunderlord from an Exotic quest called Journal of the Reef Cryptarch. However, it’s only available through this quest until Nov. 27. When Season 5 ends on that date, the Thunderlord will be thrown into the random Exotic pool, which Bungie confirmed via Twitter.

Thankfully, the quest only takes about an hour to play through, so we recommend you pick it up before the Nov. 27 if at all possible. If you’re reading this after that date, you’ll have to get lucky with Thunderlord like with most other Exotics in Destiny 2.

What does Thunderlord do?

Thunderlord is a machine gun, which is actually different from auto rifles. Machine guns go in the heavy slot and have large clips with slow reload speeds — think LMGs from most other modern shooters. This machine gun has about 62 rounds in the clip and can hold 220 shots in total.

The Intrinsic Perk for Thunderlord in Destiny 2 is Reign Havoc, which causes kills made with Thunderlord to rain lightning down on nearby enemies. This does some serious damage, and kills with Reign Havoc spawn other instances of Reign Havoc, which can lead to a nasty chain reaction. This turns Thunderlord into a very potent tool for clearing out waves of enemies quickly.

The gun’s other important traits are Feeding Frenzy and Lightning Rounds. Feeding Frenzy is a buff that Thunderlord receives when killing any enemy, and it significantly increases reload speed. Lightning Rounds turns Thunderlord into a boss-killing machine, as the gun’s accuracy and fire rate increase the longer you hold down the trigger. Even better, once the gun is truly sped up with this perk, lightning strikes will rain from the sky even without making kills.

Is it any good?

Thunderlord is a monster weapon in almost every situation. It shreds in the Crucible, it dominates in Gambit, it chews through enemies in strikes and it gives Whisper of the Worm a run for its money against bosses.

When doing the Riven cheese — where players line up to take the Last Wish Raid’s final boss on in a single phase using cluster bomb rockets — Thunderlord becomes a powerful substitute for the usual strategy. When enemies are out of range, Thunderlord will never be able to match Whisper of the Worm or rockets. But at close range, enemies melt in front of the machine gun’s hail of bullets.

Against large groups of enemies, Thunderlord is easily the best choice in the heavy slot. A 600 power Thunderlord can one-shot most red bar enemies, creating a thunderous explosion with only a single bullet. The gun also deals bonus damage to shields, making it perfect for major enemies of any kind, including Wizards. It’s a catch-all Exotic in PvE, capable of quickly taking down normal enemies, mini-bosses or bosses themselves — the only question is how many bullets you’ll need to use.

In multiplayer situations, Thunderlord is very powerful. The gun only takes a few bullets to take down enemy Guardians, but it comes with a large clip — giving plenty of room for error or multikills. The problems with Thunderlord in PvP is that it’s about consistency, not fast time to kill. Thunderlord kills quickly, but not nearly as quickly as accurate rockets, grenades or something like the 1000 Voices. Instead, Thunderlord in PvP is all about staying alive and using it to its max potential.

Thunderlord is one of the most powerful Exotic weapons we’ve ever seen in Destiny 2, and it fills a unique gap in this age of single-shot weapons, thanks to its quick enemy clear. Players who receive Thunderlord guaranteed from the quest, before it’s too late, should consider themselves lucky that such a powerful gun is so easily obtained.

This is the kind of weapon that players have been begging for when touting that Whisper of the Worm is “too strong.” While we have no idea how powerful machine guns will be when they enter the game in Black Armory, the Destiny sandbox is in for a world of change if Thunderlord is any indication.

Note: We reviewed this weapon on PC using our own account. Console players may have slightly different experiences from us, as recoil is a far greater issue when using a controller.