As of the 5th of July, Grandmaster Nightfalls have once again begun in Destiny 2. These super hard, end-game Strikes offer players unique Adept rewards as well as shedloads of valuable upgrade materials if they can complete the weekly featured Nightfall on Grandmaster difficulty.
The minimum Light Level required to enter Season 17’s Grandmaster Nightfalls is a Light Level of 1585, +15 to the max Pinnacle cap. Grandmasters are constantly capped at 30 Light Levels above you no matter how high you go, meaning that every enemy and every encounter will always be hard fought and hard won. Some Nightfalls are much harder than others: some take you the full 45 minute run time for one completion, while another can take only a handful of minutes.
Factor in the need for specific Champion weapons, the slew of (mostly) negative and positive modifiers, the time commitment and just the overall challenge of the activity, many do not know where to begin on their Grandmaster Nightfall journey. We have compiled a guide to help you understand what you will be facing week-to-week, what weapons and gear you will need to bring, and what sweet rewards you get at the other side.
Season 17 Grandmaster Nightfall List
Each new season, Bungie curates a list of 6 of Destiny 2’s Vanguard Strikes to make into Grandmaster Nightfalls for that season. These are usually swapped about season to season, meaning that if you see Lightblade in one season it is unlikely to show up in the next. The list of Strikes available at the Grandmaster difficulty for Season 17 are:
- Proving Grounds
- Insight Terminus
- Warden of Nothing
- The Corrupted
- The Inverted Spire
- The Arms Dealer
Each of these Strikes come with their own unique challenges and they all range in difficulty.
Proving Grounds is one of the newer Strikes in Destiny 2, introduced in last years Season of the Chosen. It is a Cabal heavy Strike, with a couple groups of Vex at the start of the activity and will task Guardians with entering Caital’s Imperial Land Tank where they will do battle with her chosen champion. This Strike requires Anti-Barrier Mods (Sidearm/Pulse Rifle) and Unstoppable Mods (Scout Rifles/Glaives).
This is one of the harder Strikes in Destiny 2, primarily because of how the first and last major encounter roadblock a lot of people. The first encounter after you get into the tank tasks you with destroying 2 Cabal Interceptors, a ton of adds that swarm the room (including roaming packs of Cabal dogs, snipers and Colossi) before spawning in 2 tanks that the Fireteam must defeat to continue. It is a hectic encounter, where standing still will often kill you because of the splash damage of many of the Cabal’s projectiles – in addition, a direct hit from either the Interceptor or the tanks will most definitely kill you in one hit.
The final encounter is a massive room with very little cover against a roaming boss that can spit orbs of fire at you. You will have to contend with enemies that spawn, the boss themselves and some Unstoppable Champions that spawn throughout the fight, all the while dodging the ranged fiery balls that the boss will throw and track to you: if you get hit without an Overshield (and even if you do have one) you will die. A lot of players fall here because of the lack of cover, alongside the fact that you really need to get up and close to the boss once they hit their health threshold in order to continue the fight. Most of all, though, watch out for the fiery orbs as they are what will impede your progress the most.
To add to this, there are several unique enemies that spawn throughout the Strike who all boast different shield types. Usually, you will only have to contend with primarily Solar and Arc shields (from the Centurions and Colossi respectively) but if you get unlucky and an enemy with a Void shield spawns, then you’re out of luck. This bit of random chance is one of the reasons why this Strike is so annoying to many.
Insight Terminus is another Cabal Strike, although once again you will have to fight a few Vex too. This Strike tasks the Guardians with entering deep underground in order to stop a Cabal Psion called Karagan. This Strike calls for Anti-Barrier (Sidearm/Pulse Rifle) and Unstoppable (Scout Rifles/Glaives) Champion mods.
Overall, this Strike is relatively simple. Everything is pretty easy to get a hang of and enemies are not a massive threat through the majority of the Strike. There is an encounter in a massive room where players will need to kill Centurions and traffic 2 balls to certain points in order to progress, which can be difficult if the adds are not taken care of fast enough. Psion Snipers and the Colossi will be the biggest threat here, as well as the Gladiators by the dunking points.
Where the Strike gets nasty, however, is at the end. The arena has sufficient cover, until the boss uses their Psion Void powers to send you flying up into the air, often times killing you. This attack can catch you around cover, so watch out. The adds are also pretty relentless, the dogs and Gladiators most of all , so keep an eye on them when you are charging up the plates. For less experienced teams, it is recommended that during the second half of the fight, everyone should go to same plate and wait for it to charge before continuing: if you are more confident, then each player can defend their own plate to speed up the Strike.
Warden of Nothing
Warden of Nothing is an interesting Strike, one which one again is very Cabal and Vex heavy, although slightly more in favour of Vex this time. Guardians will have to move through this Grandmaster contending with several different rooms of difficult enemies, avoiding insta-kill train cars and performing tasks once found in Destiny 1’s Prison of the Elders. This Grandmaster Nightfall requires all 3 of the Champion mods.
This Nightfall can be very tricky. The adds are often longer ranged snipers or sentries that will pick you off very easily if you do not keep moving or stay close to cover. Pair that with many of the arena obstacles such as the train cars and it is very easy to stop paying attention and cost a res token. Prepare for a lot of shields, and prepare to continue pushing forward as to not get pinned down by snipers.
The two main rooms of annoyance are the Prison of Elders room and the final room against the boss. The first requires Guardians to kill waves and waves of adds and Champions, while also following instructions to disarm three mines around the room. This encounter can get very hectic, especially if someone dies and cannot get to their mine in time – there is enough time for everyone to go from mine to mine as a group but it is recommended that you split into a group of 2 and a solo in order to disarm the final 2 mines. Additionally, it is easy to miss a Platinum score here if you miss a few of the Anti-Barrier hobgoblins which spawn during the fight, so keep them in mind.
The final room pits you against this massive Servitor in a tiny room. There are very few places to safely hide here, as enemies will spawn from both sides of the circular room and the Servitor itself will be lasting you throughout the fight. It can also do a massive fire attack that quickly burns (and kills) anybody not in cover, so always try to stay close by to avoid death. This boss can be burned down very quickly if the team is good enough, but failing to do this will spawn a ton of adds and Champions that the Fireteam must deal with so keep that in mind while fighting.
The Corrupted is one of the most controversial and divisive Strikes, especially as a Grandmaster Nightfall. You only have to fight the Taken in the Strike, but there are a lot of them and it is a fair amount longer than other Strikes. You will need Unstoppable Mods (Scout Rifle/Glaives) and Overload Mods (SMG/Auto Rifle/Trace Rifles) for this Strike.
Every encounter in this Nightfall has the chance to kill you and make you struggle. Being sloppy on the initial boardwalk will most definitely cost you a few lives (make sure to bring some Void to deal with the Acolyte’s shields which will be a very big pain). The elevator can devolve into chaos if players do not move quickly to take off the immunity shields using the passable balls, and if they continue to let the Psion’s multiply: you can also very easily be pushed or hit off of the elevator, resulting in a death so be careful around the edges, and make sure to prioritise taking down shields.
The room with the realm switching Ogres is relatively simple, but can get annoying if you cannot take care of the adds, particularly the Solar shielded Knights that stalk the upper areas of the room where you are likely to try and hide. They are swarmed by Acolytes and running into a pack will absolutely flatten you in no time at all. Peak shooting the Ogres is you best bet here, all the while remaining conscious of the adds. Another Champion can be missed here, so keep an eye out for them (there is at least one in both realms).
The final room with the Techeun boss is where many will fall at the gates. Adds spawn continuously and they will destroy you given a chance: Thrall will kill you in one or two hits, where as Knights can apply a rapid burn. Pair that with the boss, who can one shot you or blast you off of the edge of the map, and you have to be careful. Remember to pass the ball between players in order to take down the boss’ shield in one hit, and use cover to your advantage (there is a small island at the back of the arena’s centre that can be used to take a breather). Once you have passed to the other realm, the main danger is being pushed off by either the boss or by jumping adds, so make sure to watch your step.
This is the Strike that will test your ability to beat the clock the most, as it is a very long Strike (comparably) and will often leave you with only a few scant minutes to spare by the time you beat it.
The Inverted Spire
The original Strike many of us played during the Destiny 2 Beta all those years ago, The Inverted Spire is (another) Vex and Cabal Strike with a focus on Vex. You will need Unstoppable (Scout Rifles/Glaives) and Anti-Barrier (Sidearms/Pulse Rifles) Champion mods.
This Strike is pretty simple, as long as you keep an eye on your surroundings. The enemies as usually pretty manageable, with a lot of cover helping you get close. There are even a few circumstances where you can just sit on top of a wall and pick enemies off from a distance without endangering yourself, such as just after the second Cabal cannon.
The big ‘No-Man’s Land’ area of the Strike may catch some people unaware if they just stand about in the open trying to kill adds, as there are dangerous Colossi and Arc Shielded Legionaries inside the two builds that will kill you very quick. Be careful not to get swarmed by adds either, and to avoid the big drill that comes into play later in the Strike.
The final boss is also pretty simple: he doesn’t deal a ton of damage and there is a lot of cover… in phase 1 and 2. Those are easy. In phase 3, there is very little cover and adds are relentless. The boss will also become more dangerous as time goes on and you damage them more, meaning that burning down the boss is an excellent strategy to assure yourself victory.
The Arms Dealer
Perhaps the easiest Grandmaster Nightfall in all of Destiny 2, The Arms Dealer is a Cabal Strike with a few sprinklings of Fallen. You will need Anti-Barrier (Sidearm/Pulse Rifle) and Unstoppable (Scout Rifle/Glaive) for this Strike.
Once you get it down, this Strike is very easy. As long as you keep an eye on snipers and Threshers (the Cabal air ships) which can one shot you if you aren’t careful, everything else is relatively simple. The Champions can get you stuck, but there is enough cover in all areas of the Strike that you can safely sneak away and recover.
The ending is perhaps where it gets most perilous, as if you do not burn down the Boss and they enter the heat bubble, they can snipe you for a ton of damage. This is while you have to avoid a bunch of adds including chasing dogs and shielded Centurions who can easily overwhelm you. The Thresher’s and the turrets should be the first things you take down whenever you have the chance, and remember to play things carefully – there’s no point trying to be a martyr and dunk the blast core if it means dying, take it slow and kill everything first.
Rewards for Grandmaster Nightfalls in Season 17
So, what do you actually get for completing all of these Grandmaster Nightfalls?
The first is that by completing them all, you can Guild your ‘Conqueror’ Title and Seal. This will turn the Title orange instead of purple, and will add a score by it to indicate how many times it has been Guilded.
The second, and the thing most likely to keep people replaying, is the loot. There are 6 weapons currently on offer, one available each week. They are:
- The Horror’s Least, Arc Rapid-Fire Pulse Rifle
- The D.F.A, Kinetic Adaptive Hand-Cannon
- The Duty Bound, Kinetic Adaptive Auto Rifle
- The Silicon Neuroma, Kinetic High Impact Sniper Rifle
- The PLUG ONE 1., Arc Precision Fusion Rifle
- The Hothead, Arc Adaptive Rocket Launcher
If you complete a Grandmaster Nightfall, you are likely to get one of these weapons in their (Adept) version, meaning that they have access to different mods and gain extra stats on a Masterwork. As previously said, each weapon is only available to get if it is the featured weapon that week (for example this week it is the Silicon Neuroma Sniper Rifle, so no other weapon is obtainable). These weapons cycle new ones in and old ones out on a seasonal basis, and you can see the upcoming line-up from a This Week At Bungie article from a few months ago.
These weapons are highly sought after, especially guns such as the Silicon Neuroma and the Hothead, both of which are very good PvE weapons for boss damage. Meanwhile, the PLUG ONE 1. is good almost anywhere as a balanced and well built precision frame Fusion, and many people are excited about the return of the long awaited D.F.A.
Best Weapons to Bring to Grandmaster Nightfalls
As for how to actually complete these Nightfall, what weapons you bring to the table is the most important. Remembering to equip and balance your team for what shield types you will encounter, what Champion mods are required and what will do good DPS are all important factors in what weapons you should bring to the table.
Here are a few examples for each slot, including Legendary and Exotic offerings.
One of the best Anti-Barrier weapons for this season is the Outbreak Perfected Pulse Rifle. Outbreak is just a fantastic gun all round, but with Anti-Barrier it is so much better. With its nanites, it can deal sustained and very high damage for a primary weapon, while also breaking Barrier shields quickly and efficiently. Those nanites will also linger, making it easier to break future shields (if the enemy isn’t dead already). Outbreak Perfected is a perfect back up damage weapon and is a great pick for the Ant-Barrier role.
Silicon Neuroma or last season’s Thoughtless sniper rifle are good options if you want to pack a little more punch in your Kinetic slot. While they cannot do any Champion damage, these weapons can deal very high damage at a long, safe distance. They are a good pick if you want a Primary in your Energy slot or are full up on Champion mods.
Pulse Rifles such as Piece of Mind work great as Legendary Anti-Barrier weapons, where as SMGs like Submission and Auto Rifles like Duty Bound work great as Overload weapons (if you are willing to get close enough anyway).
However, if you just want something that can cover any shield, including Anti-Barrier, pick Arbalest. Despite getting a nerf, it is still an absolute monster, capable of breaking any shield in one hit and in doing good damage. If you cannot think of anything to bring and have an Exotic slot spare, then please just put in Arbalest – it’ll help out you and your fireteam a ton.
Seeing as there are so many Cabal Strikes this season, another great pick is Skyburner’s Oath. This Scout Rifle can be slotted to do Unstoppable damage, meaning that it can deal very easily with Cabal Champions, but it has also recently undergone a very huge buff in regards to Solar 3.0. By combining this gun with a Solar 3.0 class, it can deal continuous Scorch damage stacks, leading to ignitions and very big damage. It also just a very good weapon for Cabal specifically, as it deals extra damage to them, hits through Phalanx shields and can even bypass the heat shields in the Proving Grounds Strike.
There are now several choices of easily available Trace Rifle that the player can choose from: Retracing Steps from the 30th Anniversary event and the new Hollow Denial Void Trace from Season of the Haunted both being great options. Trace Rifles are actually very good in PvE content, with high ammo counts and they are easy to use from a safe distance. Additionally, they can be slotted to deal Overload damage, making them a great fit for a build as one of the only special weapon offerings this season.
Or, if you have an Exotic slot free or just want to play more supportively, there is Divinity. This Trace Rifle comes naturally with Overload and it affects champions on hit, as opposed to requiring sustained damage to take effect. Pair this with the critical spot increase and damage buff, and not many people with be saying no to a Divinity in Grandmaster Nightfalls.
If you want a heavier and more tanky Unstoppable weapon, Glaives are a very good pick. With Nezerac’s Whisper we now have access to craftable Glaives in all 3 Light based elements (Solar, Arc and Void) meaning that any Glaive can fit any situation. They have decent damage, provide a good panic solution with their melee and their shield actually comes in handy fairly often for protecting against projectile or for securing an allies Ghost.
Good Legendary options for Pulses are the Insidious Pulse Rifle from the Raid, which can roll with Adaptive Munitions. In fact, other guns such as the Wellspring Auto Rifle, can also roll with Adaptive Munitions, allowing you to cover both Champions (Barrier for Pulse and Overload for Auto Rifle) while also covering for multiple shield types with the Adaptive Munitions perk. This is a very good option for those wanting a good energy primary weapon.
The classic choice here is Gjallarhorn. It is an insane weapon, doing crazy damage and add clear as well as providing a massive buff for your teammates using Rocket Launchers. If you have an Exotic slot free and do not require your heavy for you build, it is almost ludicrous to not put Gjally in that Heavy slot – it is just too good.
However, there are alternatives. Recently, Leviathan’s Breath, the only Heavy Bow in Destiny 2, received a bit a buff. While not as good as something like Gjallarhorn, it is still a very decent damaging weapon with a good amount of ammo, and it can cover Unstoppable Champions without the need a mod. This frees up the Gloves mod slot for other mods that may work better with your build, or even just allows you more freedom in what you choose. It’s a trade off in damage for a return in utility.
Linear Fusion Rifles are another great choice if you want some better DPS. The new Duality Dungeon Linear, Stormchaser, is currently one of the highest damage options in the game and it can roll with Adaptive Munitions. This makes it not only viable as a great DPS option (with perks like Firing Line or Vorpal Weapon) but also as a Champion or Major Killer. Other options like Cataclysmic and Reed’s Regret are also fantastic choices.
Grandmaster Nightfalls can be very difficult, challenging encounters. However, if you are able to overcome them you are rewarded with some of the best weapons in the games, tons of Exotics and upgrade modules, as well as the sheer pride in having beaten it. Hopefully this guide has helped you understand what you are facing in Season 17 as well as what to maybe bring when you try to challenge the Nightfalls on your own.