- "It crawls like a spider, and carries a container on its back. I wonder what's inside?"
- ―Aloy, upon sighting a Shell-Walker
The Shell-Walker is a machine in Horizon Zero Dawn. It is a medium-sized Transport Class machine, primarily functioning in the transport of resources gathered and processed by other machines to cauldrons. However, it was weaponized at the onset of the Derangement, and now poses a significant threat to any human who encounters one.
Shell-Walkers were presumably one of the machines originally designed by the Zero Dawn terraforming system’s governing artificial intelligence (AI) GAIA, to be used in the detoxification of the Earth after it was ravaged and left lifeless by the Faro Plague. Originally Shell-Walkers were docile towards humans, fleeing at the sight of humans, as did all terraforming machines. However, after GAIA self-destructed, the AI HEPHAESTUS altered the behavior of Shell-Walkers and all other terraforming machines, making them hostile to humans to the point of attacking them on sight. This phenomenon is what the tribes refer to as the Derangement. Furthermore, HEPHAESTUS weaponized Shell-Walkers, equipping them with electric attacks and a protective energy shield.
A Shell-Walker’s chassis is crab-like in appearance. It has six stout crab-like legs connected radially to a body primarily composed of a platform upon which it carries a hexagonal cargo container. On the underside of the platform is a power generator. The container is presumably fastened to the platform electromagnetically, and further held in place via structures known as Crate Holders. The head is laterally wide, with a triangular optical sensor array located at each end. Additionally, a Shell-Walker has a pair of limbs that are akin to the chelipeds of a crab. An energy shield generator is on the end on the left limb, and a weapon that fires projectiles of electrical energy, dubbed a Lighting Gun, is at the end of the right limb. A projection carrying a pair of long antennae protrudes vertically from the left side of the head.
Shell-Walkers may be found in groups of a few units at various sites in tribal lands. They mill about, communicating via electronic warbles. They also walk in machine convoys accompanied by Watchers or Longlegs, carrying their cargo to cauldrons. A Shell-Walker’s highest priority is the defense of its cargo. Indeed, the Spurflints Hunting Grounds Keeper advised the Nora huntress Aloy that “Shell-Walkers will defend their cargo with their lives”. If its Crate Holders are destroyed, a Shell-Walker will used its Lightning Gun (if intact) to hold its cargo container in place.
Shell-Walkers attack humans on sight. Upon identifying a human, a Shell-Walker will emit a loud, angry metallic warble, alerting other nearby Shell-Walkers or other machines, raise its energy shield and let fly at the human with shots from its lightning gun. If the human is at close range, it will resort to melee attacks. Shell-Walkers usually walk in a slow, precise manner. However when attacking, they ambulate with surprising speed. When engaging a perceived threat, a Shell-Walker ambulates in a manner that always keeps it facing the threat, allowing its energy shield to be most effective.
A Shell-Walker’s shield generator produces a visible forward-facing energy shield that is impenetrable to projectiles, such as arrows. A Shell-Walker also employs a number of offensive ranged electric attacks, a defensive radial electric attack, and melee smashing attacks. utilizing its shield, lightning gun and shield generator as bludgeons.
A Shell-walker may be deprived of its energy shield by destroying the generator. Strikes with explosive ammunition such as Blast Bombs or high-damage arrows such as Precision Arrows will destroy the generator. A single strike with a Tearblast Arrow or the Tearblaster will tear the generator off the limb that carries it. If a Tearblast Arrow explodes directly beneath the Shell-Walker’s power generator, it causes a Shock explosion that stuns the machine.
- 3 Shell-Walkers, 2 Watchers Convoy: path is in Gatelands on the road from Greatrun Hunting Grounds, past Cauldron RHO, and ends southeast of the Tallneck (Copper Deeps).
- 1 Shell-Walker, 2 Watchers convoy: path starts south of the Tallneck (Copper Deeps) ends near the Longleg site north of Spurflints Hunting Grounds.
- 1 Shell-Walker, 3 Watchers convoy: path is solely in Sun Furrows, around the Sun Furrows Hunting Grounds.
- 2 Shell-Walkers, 1 Longleg convoy: path runs starts at Unflinching Watch; goes past Rockwreath, Cut-Cliffs, Day's Height; ends near the Longleg site north of Spurflints Hunting Grounds.
- During development, Shell-Walkers were originally named Scuttlers. The original name can still be seen in the description for the Carja Ropecaster Tutorial.
- The Shell-Walker is the only HEPHAESTUS machine in the game to be based on an invertebrate life form, appearing to resemble a crustacean. This feature is more pronounced in FARO Chariot Peacekeepers, which are built to have insectoid appendages or cephalopodic features.
- If a Shell-Walker's crate holders are destroyed, it will attempt to hold the crate with its claw, unless that too is destroyed. The way it grabs the crate implies that the claw can also manipulate gravity to some extent, or the crate and the claw have a specific magnetism. The gravity manipulation theory is reinforced by the fact that when a Shell-Walker uses its 360 attack, nearby objects are lifted upwards.
- If the crate is destroyed, nothing can be recovered from it. Meleeing the machine with the crate on top will almost certainly yield no additional rewards.
- Shell-Walkers are currently the only machine with a hyphenated name.
|Acquisition Class||Bristleback - Broadhead - Charger - FireclawFW - FrostclawFW - Glinthawk - Grazer - Lancehorn - Rockbreaker - Scrapper - Snapmaw - Strider - Sunwing - Trampler|
|Combat Class||Clawstrider - Ravager - Sawtooth - ScorcherFW - Shellsnapper - Stalker - Stormbird - Thunderjaw - Tremortusk|
|Recon Class||Longleg - Watcher (Redeye Watcher)|
|Transport Class||Behemoth - Fire Bellowback - Freeze Bellowback - Shell-Walker|
|Chariot Class||Corruptor - Deathbringer - Metal Devil|
|Unknown Class||Burrower - Control TowerFW|
|Other||Corrupted Machines - Daemonic MachinesFW - "New breed"|