Destiny: 10 Tips To Survive Grandmaster Nightfalls

One of Destiny 2’s greatest strengths is how varied its content is. Whether you enjoy PvE or PvP content, there is something for everyone. This season, Bungie has doubled down on providing pinnacle activities for both parties.

PvP players have Trials of Osiris while PvE players have Grandmaster Nightfalls (GMs for short), a leg up from Master difficulty with even more modifiers and tougher enemies. These missions provide a challenge that surpasses what raids provide. There are methods of making these missions easier, however, ranging from gear to group composition. If you are determined to earn or gild the Conquerer title, here are ten tips for surviving Destiny 2’s Grandmaster Nightfalls.

Updated March 12th, 2021 by Charles Burgar: Nearly a year has passed since Grandmaster Nightfalls were introduced to Destiny 2. A lot has changed since then. Combat Style mod additions, new subclasses, and a plethora of new loot have made these missions much less punishing. That doesn’t mean GM Nightfalls are easy, however; far from it. Players that are chasing Adept PvE guns will want every advantage they can get. In anticipation of Season of the Chosen’s Grandmaster Nightfalls, this guide has been overhauled to give much more detailed, relevant advice for playing sinking their teeth into this pinnacle activity for the first time. Good luck. You’re going to need it.

Pay Attention To The Modifiers

Grandmaster Nightfalls have nearly a dozen modifiers that drastically impact the mission. Besides modifiers that spawn Champions or lock your lockout, GM Nightfalls have unique modifiers that make the mission significantly harder. Most of these modifiers increase a certain type of elemental damage enemies dish out. You can also expect modifiers like Locked Loadouts and Match Game in these missions, so coordinate with your team on who will be covering each elemental type.

Unlike Master Nightfalls, GM variants have Contest Modifier enabled, locking your Power Level to a set number regardless of how high your level might be. In Season of the Chosen, your Power Level will be set to 1,325. That is also the level required to even attempt a Grandmaster Nightfall, so don’t attempt to grind your Power Level over this.

It should go without saying, but tune your loadout around what modifiers are present. If Overload Champions are present, bring weapons with Overload Rounds. If most enemies deal Void damage and that damage type is increased via modifiers, consider running Void Resistance mods on your chest armor.

Play Defensively

Every enemy in a Grandmaster Nightfall can kill you in just a few hits. Playing aggressive is a surefire way to die. Stick to long-range weapons and cover for most engagements. Bows, Sniper Rifles, and Pulse Rifles are excellent for GM Nightfalls. Divinity is also an excellent means of debuffing targets from a distance, giving your allies an opportunity to eliminate a high-value target. It’s also a good idea to run defensive subclasses and mods.

Build Crafting

You will not survive Grandmaster content if you don’t have a proper build. If you’ve never used Combat Style mods, check out our guide on what these seasonal mods do. It’s important you understand how these mechanics work before even attempting a GM Nightfall.

One of your teammates should use a Warmind Cell build, focusing on mods that provide crowd control like Cellular Suppression and Warmind’s Protection. This will make clearing out rooms significantly less dangerous. The other two players can use Charged with Light setups, utilizing Protective Light to maintain a 50% damage resistance buff when their shields break. Your kill efficiency in GM Nightfalls will be rather poor, so focus on building for defenses rather than raw killing power. Every death counts.

Use These Subclasses

If you’ve never played pinnacle PvE content in Destiny 2 before, you might be confused on which Subclasses are worth playing. Let’s go over the best Subclasses for Grandmaster Nightfalls:


  • Way of the Pathfinder: Bottom tree Nightstalker is the most popular choice due to its melee ability. Smoke Bombs will cloak you and allies for six seconds, giving you some breathing room when combat gets tough. Use Gambler’s Dodge and either Omnioculus or The Sixth Coyote to have constant Smoke Bombs. Shadowshot is also a powerful debuffing tool against Champions and bosses.
  • Revenant: A high-risk, high-reward spec, Revenant is more tailored to players that want to dish out damage and setup crazy AoE effects. You don’t have invisibility on this spec, so you’ll need to play conservatively. Mask of Bakris and Anarchy pair well with this setup. Revenants are also the best Subclass for activating the Focusing Lens mod, giving Light-based teammates much stronger abilities.


  • Attunement of Grace: Known as “Well-bots” by some, middle tree Dawnblade is all about buffing your teammates through healing grenades and the Well of Radiance Super. This spec is particularly strong in Season of the Chosen thanks to the Focusing Lens mod, making Well of Radiance give a 56% damage boost against targets affected by Stasis. Run Phoenix Protocol to get your Super faster.
  • Attunement of Chaos: Solo GM players and certain team compositions will use top tree Voidwalker. Overcharged grenades deal absurd damage and are always available if you’re using Contraverse Hold. This spec sacrifices defense for passive damage, making it pair well with Warmind Cells.


  • Code of the Commander: Middle Tree Sentinel’s Super is arguably the strongest Supers for GM Nightfalls, blocking all incoming damage to teammates while generating copious amounts of Orbs of Power. Run Ursa Furiosa to use your Super more frequently. Note: Ursa Furiosa will not refund Super energy if you stand in a Well of Radiance!
  • Code of the Siegebreaker: Bottom tree Sunbreaker’s abilities deal a great deal of damage, heal you, generate damaging Sunspots that can buff teammates (if you’re using Phoenix Cradle), and can generate Warmind Cells if you’re using the Wrath of Rasputin mod. Its lack of defensive properties makes it seldom used, however.

The Best Exotic Weapons

Similar to subclasses, there are a few notable Exotics that every player should have in their arsenal:

  • Anarchy/Witherhoard: Both of these weapons deal damage over time without any input from you. Fire one round into a target—two if you’re using Anarchy—and watch their health bar disappear. Pair these guns with a Special or Heavy weapon to output some fantastic damage.
  • Xenophage: It hits like a truck, is ammo efficient, and can spawn Warmind Cells if you’re using the Wrath of Rasputin mod. Any GM Nightfall that has long sightlines becomes much easier if you use this gun.
  • The Lament: Lament is viable in Season of the Chosen due to the return of Passive Guard. It counters Barrier Champions, heals you, and does an absurd amount of damage. Use this when there’s only one enemy that currently poses a threat.
  • Divinity: Divinity will stun Overload Champions, cause targets to take 30% increased damage, makes all of your allies’ rounds deal precision damage, and activate Sundering Glare if used from a distance. This is the best support weapon you can use currently.
  • Eriana’s Vow: If Anti-Barrier mods are terrible for a given season, Eriana’s Vow will get the job done. It does great damage from a safe distance and can auto-load itself when Masterworked.
  • Borealis: This Sniper Rifle deserves a special mention due to the existence of Anti-Barrier Sniper Rounds in Season 13. It counters every shield type, Barrier Champions, and gains bonus damage whenever you break an elemental shield.

Consider Using The Aeon Exotic Gloves

The Aeon Exotic gloves aren’t useless anymore! Bungie overhauled these gloves in Season of the Chosen. Instead of granting ability energy, players can select one of three Exotic mods that alter what these gloves do.

For Grandmaster Nightfalls, you’ll want to rock either Sect of Force or Sect of Insight. Since these mod descriptions are multiple paragraphs long, we’ll give a quick synopsis of what these two mods do.

  • Sect of Force: All of your weapons gain increased reload and handling speed when you chain precision hits. Stunning Champions or defeating bosses/minibosses will grant 50% grenade and melee energy to nearby allies. If they’re using the Aeon Exotic, they also gain around 8% Super energy.
  • Sect of Insight: Precision kills can spawn Orbs of Power. Finishing majors will spawn Special ammo for allies. Finishing Champions and bosses will spawn Heavy ammo for allies. Aeon allies get a 35% damage boost for 20 seconds when you finish an enemy.

As you can see, both of those mods are absurdly strong. If you don’t need a specific Exotic for your build, use the Aeon Exotics; they’re one of the strongest Exotics you can run for a GM Nightfall.

Artifact Mods

Season of the Chosen has some of the most powerful Artifact mods Destiny 2 has seen. Every mod from the final column is good for virtually every build, although two mods stand above the rest. Sundering Glare and Focusing Lens should be on your radar when making a build. Both drastically improve your team’s damage output based on doing certain things, and both of them are fairly easy to activate.

If you’re wondering which mod is best, check out our Artifact mod tier list article.

How To Counter Champions

Champions are a pain to deal with in GM Nightfalls. Overload enemies constantly teleport, Barrier Servitors make everything invincible through cover, and Unstoppable Champions have an absurd health pool. Fortunately, there are a few ways to counter each of these enemy types that you should keep in mind:

  • All Champions: After you stun a Champion, the red particles surrounding them will dim. You cannot stun a Champion again until these red particles light up again. The cooldown between stuns is around ten seconds, but this visual indicator is much clearer.
  • Barrier Champions: They will always deploy their shield when they lose around 25% of their health. Damage them slightly, wait for the shield, then immediately break it. Barrier Servitors will also break their immunity tethers when they’re stunned.
  • Overload Champions: When an Overload Champion is about to recover from a stun, keep hitting it with Overload ammo. This will disable its rapid health regeneration and ability to teleport, even if it can’t be stunned yet. Use this strategy to make Overload Champions much less annoying.
  • Unstoppable Champions: Unstoppables don’t recover their health, so these enemies have a lower priority than other Champions. With that said, they don’t drop aggro once they spot you. Take care of other enemies first while the Champion is stunned before taking them head-on.

Run The Nightfall On Easier Difficulties First

Learning the layout of the current week’s Nightfall is a fantastic idea before you attempt the hardest version. Nightfalls can be completed on easier difficulties with fewer modifiers and player matchmaking.

Champions will still spawn, and the core mission objectives will stay the same, giving you ample practice for how to approach each section. If you find it too easy, crank the difficulty up to add more modifiers. Pretty soon, you’ll have the mission memorized and will have to rely on momentary decision-making instead of juggling objectives you aren’t familiar with on top of difficult enemies. Even if you know the Nightfall well, it’s still a good idea to run easier Nightfalls as a warmup.

Use Damage Resistance Mods

With the lethality of enemies in GM Nightfalls, you’re going to need all of the health you can get. Damage resistance mods will reduce incoming damage by a certain percentage, allowing you to take a few more hits before dying.

Protective Light and Warmind’s Protection are some of the best mods pertaining to this, each granting a 50% damage resistance buff while active. Your chest armor can also slot damage resistance mods tied to certain elements or damage types. These mods grant 25% damage resistance—40% if you’re running two of the same mod type. Damage mitigation mods are multiplicative, meaning they weaker as you stack more of them. Despite this, having two or three sources of damage mitigation will make GMs feel closer to a Master Nightfall instead of a Legendary Halo 2 mission. Seriously, don’t attempt a Grandmaster Nightfall unless you have some form of damage resistance on your build.

Next: Destiny 2: Beyond Light Complete Guide And Walkthrough

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Charles Burgar is an expert on all things tech and gaming. Graduating from Pikes Peak Community College in 2018 with an Associate of Science, Charles has spent his time dissecting popular video games, movies, and technology. With an understanding of games for as long as he can remember, Charles has a large interest in understanding what makes things fun. He is currently a Freelance writer for TheGamer and Game Rant.

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