Destiny 2 Grandmaster Nightfall guide: Tips, loadouts, mods, and more

Destiny 2
Destiny 2 (Image credit: Bungie)

Between its Raids, Raid challenges, and Legend and Master Nightfall strikes, there's plenty to do if you're an endgame PvE player in Destiny 2. However, if you're looking for the ultimate challenge, Bungie has you covered with Grandmaster Nightfalls.

These prestigious Nightfall strikes reward players with tons of Exotics, masterworking materials, stat-rich Adept versions of Nightfall weapons, and a Conqueror title that you can display under your name in-game. However, they also require a very high Power Level to play (currently, that Power Level is 1345) and feature enemies that are over 25 Power Levels above your own, meaning that your fireteam will do less damage than usual and will also take much more damage from enemy attacks. On top of this, there are tons of deadly Champion enemies you need to kill as well as active mission modifiers that limit how many revives you have, prevent revives after the 45-minute mark, and force your fireteam to return to orbit if all three players wipe.

Due to how difficult Grandmaster Nightfalls are, your fireteam is going to need top-tier loadouts, mods, builds, and strategies in order to come out alive. Don't worry, though, because we're here with an in-depth guide on everything you need to know about preparing for and overcoming these missions, including loadout recommendations, mod and build suggestions, general tips, and more.

Destiny 2 Grandmaster Nightfalls: Loadout recommendations

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The enemies in Grandmaster Nightfalls are much tankier than the ones found in any other activity, so having weapons with good PvE-focused perks (such as ones that improve reload speed and provide damage boosts) in your loadout is crucial. Additionally, you're also going to want to use weapons that are effective at range since getting close to enemies in Grandmaster Nightfalls to use weapons like shotguns or SMGs is very risky. With that in mind, here are the primary, special, and heavy weapons we recommend bringing into Grandmasters:

Primary weapons

  • Use whichever long range primary is capable of stunning Champions (scout rifles, pulse rifles, hand cannons, or bows depending on the season).
  • Examples of good scout rifles include the Vision of Confluence, Hung Jury SR4, Night Watch, and Transfiguration.
  • Some strong pulse rifles include Cold Denial, Gridskipper, The Third Axiom, and Sacred Provenance.
  • The best PvE hand cannons are the Seventh Seraph Officer Revolver, The Palindrome, Fatebringer, and Posterity.
  • Lastly, the best bows for Grandmasters are Ticuu's Divination, Trinity Ghoul, Whispering Slab, and Arsenic Bite-4B.
  • In Season of the Lost, your only option for Barrier Champions is auto rifles. Some good ones include Gnawing Hunger, Scathelocke, and Shadow Price.
  • Note that primaries with the Explosive Payload or Explosive Head perk will stun Champions faster, which some players may prefer over reload or damage perks.

Special weapons

  • Fusion rifles, sniper rifles, and grenade launchers are the best special weapons for Grandmasters. Fusion rifles are the most powerful, but sniper rifles and grenade launchers are safer since they're effective from longer ranges.
  • The best PvE sniper rifles for Grandmasters are the Succession, Adored, Occluded Finality, and Izanagi's Burden.
  • The best PvE fusion rifles are Cartesian Coordinate, Null Composure, and PLUG ONE.1.
  • The best PvE grenade launchers include the Ignition Code, Empty Vessel, Salvager's Salvo, and Witherhoard.
  • Note that Blinding Grenades perk can roll on the Ignition Code and Empty Vessel. This perk makes your grenades blind enemies for several seconds, keeping your team safe.
  • The new Ager's Scepter trace rifle from Season of the Lost is also a fantastic option, as it allows you to freeze tons of enemies quickly. This significantly helps with crowd control, which is important in Grandmasters.
  • The Divinity trace rifle from the Garden of Salvation Raid is also a strong weapon to have in your inventory. It stuns Overload Champions and creates a bubble around enemies that allows your teammates to deal boosted critical damage.
  • The Eriana's Vow special hand cannon is also a good weapon to have on hand, as it intrinsically stuns Barrier Champions and does great damage. You can get it from the Monuments to Lost Lights Kiosk.

Heavy weapons

  • Linear fusion rifles, rocket launchers, and (situationally) swords are the best weapons you can use in the heavy slot for Grandmasters.
  • The One Thousand Voices fusion rifle is also a phenomenal choice. Currently, One Thousand Voices is the best overall weapon for killing Champions and bosses in Grandmasters.
  • The best linear fusion rifles are Threaded Needle and Reed's Regret.
  • Strong rocket launchers include the Royal Entry, Hezen Vengeance, Code Duello, and Deathbringer.
  • The best swords are The Lament, the Falling Guillotine, and the Crownsplitter (exclusive to Titans). Only use swords if you're able to safely reach Champions without being killed by them or other enemies first.
  • Xenophage is also a solid option if you're looking for easy-to-use ranged firepower. It's also a great choice for use with Solar explosion Warmind Cells (more on those later).

Related: Destiny 2: 10 weapons you need to farm in Season of the Lost

Destiny 2 Grandmaster Nightfalls: Best builds

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While using the absolute best Destiny 2 builds is the best way to ensure success in Grandmasters, not every player has every specific weapon, piece of armor, and suite of mods needed to make these builds work. Because of this, we're featuring some relatively basic, yet extremely effective builds that most players will have access to since they only require the use of a subclass and a specific Exotic armor piece. Think of these simple builds as a foundation that you can enhance with the mods in the next section of the guide (if you have them).

Best Titan Grandmaster builds

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  • Ursa Furiosa build: Using the Ursa Furiosa Exotic arms with the Code of the Commander Sentinel subclass allows you to block near-infinite damage for your team with your Banner Shield super, then get it back quickly thanks to the Ursa Furiosa's Exotic perk. Additionally, the Banner Shield super also gives your allies a damage boost and creates lots of Orbs of Power your team can use. This is, without a doubt, the best build you can use in Grandmaster Nightfalls.
  • Ward of Dawn build: If you find that you often get surrounded in Grandmasters, using the Helm of Saint-14 Exotic helmet with the Code of the Protector Sentinel subclass will allow you to create a protective Ward of Dawn dome that gives you and your teammates overshields while also blinding enemies that walk into it, making them easy pickings.
  • Thundercrash build: On occasion, it can be worth it to use the Cuirass of the Falling Star Exotic chest piece with the Code of the Missile Striker subclass to deal superb single-target burst damage to a boss or Champion with your Thundercrash super. The Cuirass of the Falling Star also gives you an overshield once you hit your target, which will help you get back to safety without dying if there are still enemies on the battlefield.

Best Hunter Grandmaster builds

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  • Celestial Nighthawk build: The Celestial Nighthawk Exotic helmet paired with the Way of the Sharpshooter Gunslinger subclass turns your Golden Gun super into a devastating single shot that deals over 200,000 damage if you hit an enemy's crit spot. This makes the super perfect for dealing huge boss damage or eliminating a pesky Champion instantly.
  • Omnioculus build: Using this Exotic chest armor alongside the Way of the Pathfinder Nightstalker subclass allows you to have near-permanent invisibility active as long as you always make sure to make your entire fireteam invisible when you throw your smoke grenades. This also gives your team constant uptime of Heart of the Pack, which is a buff that boosts your team's Mobility, Resilience, and Recovery to maximum levels.

Best Warlock Grandmaster builds

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  • Well of Radiance build: The Well of Radiance super from the Attunement of Grace subclass is one of the most effective defensive supers available in Destiny 2 due to its rapid healing and overshielding capabilities, and using it alongside the Phoenix Protocol Exotic chest ensures that you'll get your supers back very quickly as long as you and your allies get some kills while in a Well of Radiance. This ensures you'll almost always have one ready if you need one. The healing grenades you can throw with this subclass are useful in sticky situations as well.
  • Chaos Reach build: With the Attunement of Control subclass and the Geomag Stabilizers Exotic leg armor, your Chaos Reach super will last much longer and can serve as a hybrid tool for both ad-clearing and boss damage. Just make sure you don't expose yourself for too long, especially if enemy snipers are on the field.
  • Stasis build: The Warlock's Stasis Shadebinder subclass is incredibly effective in Grandmasters, as the ability to crowd control large waves of enemies and burst down beefier targets with the super is extremely valuable. Use the Eye of Another World Exotic helmet to keep your Stasis abilities up as often as possible. In terms of Stasis Aspects, the Bleak Watcher Aspect that turns your Stasis grenade into a turret that slows and freezes enemies is the best choice for Grandmasters (check our guide on how to get Stasis Aspects and Fragments for more information).

Related: Best Destiny 2 Exotic weapons and armor in 2021

Destiny 2 Grandmaster Nightfalls: Best mods

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Aside from the Seasonal Artifact mods you need to use to stun Champions, there are also a variety of other armor and weapon mods that will improve your survivability, lethality, and overall effectiveness in Grandmaster Nightfalls. Here's an overview of every type of mod we recommend using (you can often find Banshee-44 and Ada-1 selling many of these mods on the Tower).

Armor mods

  • Charged with Light mods: Charged with Light mods are a great way to bolster your team's effectiveness in combat, as many of them help keep you alive in bad situations or strengthen your killing power. The simplest and most effective Charged with Light combo is Taking Charge and Protective Light. The former makes you Charged with Light when you pick up Orbs of Power, while the latter gives you a massive 50% damage reduction whenever your shields are broken while you're Charged with Light. You can also use Stacks on Stacks and Supercharged to gain more Charges of Light rapidly.
  • Warmind Cell mods: Warmind Cell mods are a bit less effective than Charged with Light mods in Grandmasters, but they're still incredibly viable (and you can use both if you have the right elements on your armor pieces). We recommend Wrath of Rasputin, Rage of the Warmind, and Global Reach, as these mods allow you to create Warmind Cells (glowing red orbs on the ground) with Solar explosions that do heavy damage to enemy ads when destroyed, which can then spawn more Warmind Cells. Cellular Suppression is another strong Warmind Cell mod that makes them blind enemies when shot. You can also use Seventh Seraph and IKELOS weapons to spawn Warmind Cells, too.
  • Elemental Well mods: Elemental well mods have largely been considered mediocre by the community for a long time now, but some recent buffs have made them more effective. These mods encourage you to collect wells created from elemental kills that boost your energy regeneration, damage, and more.
  • Ammo finder, scavenger, and reserves mods: Ammo finder mods allow you to occasionally find bonus ammo drops, ammo scavenger mods increase the amount of ammo you get from drops, and ammo reserves mods increase how much extra ammo you can carry. It's a good idea to try to run at least two of these three mod types for your special or heavy weapon in Grandmasters so you never have to worry about running out.
  • Damage resistance mods: Mods like Concussive Dampener and Solar/Void/Arc Resistance reduce the damage you take from attacks, which can often save your life in Grandmaster Nightfalls. Concussive Dampener is the best mod to use here since explosive attacks are common, but if you have enough spare energy on your armor to use elemental resistances, do so.
  • Debuff mods: Each Seasonal Artifact usually includes a mod that allows you to debuff enemies with a certain weapon or ability type (for example, Season of the Lost's Particle Deconstruction mod for fusion rifles). You should generally try to use these whenever possible as they make killing tanky enemies much easier.

Weapon mods

  • Minor, Major, and Boss Spec: Minor, Major, and Boss Spec are three mods that improve a weapon's ability to damage minors (red bars), majors (yellow bars and Champions), and bosses and vehicles, respectively. Use Minor Spec on your primary weapons, Major Spec on your Champion-killing special weapon, and then Boss Spec on your heavy.
  • Backup Mag: This mod may be worth using if you need to cut down on reloading time, as it gives you more rounds in your magazines. It's generally more effective and noticeable on rifles than any other weapon type.
  • Taken Spec: In Grandmaster Nightfalls that feature Taken enemies, Taken Spec is an excellent choice since it makes your weapons do 10% more damage against them.

Related: Best Destiny 2 builds, and how to make your own

Destiny 2 Grandmaster Nightfalls: Tips, tricks, and strategies

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Now that you've got all of the best weapons, builds, and (ideally) armor and weapon mods equipped, you and your teammates are ready to conquer Grandmaster Nightfalls. Here are some general tips, tricks, and strategies that apply to every Grandmaster Nightfall in the game and will help you come out victorious.

  • Communicate with voice chat. Communicating with your fireteam over voice is the best way to communicate critical information quickly and efficiently, such as which Champion on the field needs to be focused down once stunned or where enemy snipers are.
  • Cover is crucial. Because enemies can kill you quickly in Grandmaster Nightfalls, using cover effectively is crucial. You typically shouldn't leave it until most of the enemies in the immediate area are dead, and you should never leave it while there are enemy snipers still alive since they can one-shot you. If you happen to die, being near or behind cover also makes it easier for your teammates to revive you safely.
  • Stick together. You should never split up from your teammates in Grandmasters, as the various buffs you can give to each other with your class abilities make combat much easier. You also want to make sure that you can revive a teammate as soon as possible if necessary.
  • Stick to fighting from afar. While you can't always stay far away from opponents, doing so as much as possible gives you a wide view of the battlefield and keeps you safe from deadly close-range and melee enemy types.
  • Use supers as often as needed. With the builds described above and the Orbs of Power created from each used super, your team should be able to keep your supers up often. Therefore, don't be afraid to use them if you need to; it's better to be safe than sorry.
  • Kill Champions quickly. Champions are unbelievably deadly in Grandmasters (especially Overload Champions), and as such, your fireteam should try to kill them as soon as you can. A great way to do this is to hit them with the weapons needed to stun them as soon as they're in a good spot for follow-up damage, then blast them to pieces with your special and heavy weapons while they're stunned. Debuff mods like Breach and Clear notably make Champions much easier to kill, so use them if you can.
  • Don't underestimate trash mobs. While enemies like Cabal Legionaries or Fallen Dregs aren't usually much of a threat in normal content, they're a lot deadlier in Grandmasters — and things like the grenades they throw are much more important to keep track of and avoid. Don't underestimate them, or you'll probably end up wiping.
  • Be conservative with your ammo. Even with ammo finder, scavenger, and reserves mods equipped, being careless with your special and heavy ammo is a bad idea. You always want to make sure you have ammo when you need it, so aim carefully and don't spam.
  • Play around Nightfall modifiers. Nightfalls come with special modifiers that usually alter the abilities and stats of you and your enemies. Pay attention to what they are and what they do, then adjust your fireteam's playstyle accordingly.

Any questions?

Do you have any specific questions about completing Grandmaster Nightfalls? Let us know in the comments, and we'll do our best to help you out with some advice and suggestions.

Destiny 2: Beyond Light is available on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One consoles, PS4 and PS5, and Windows 10 (and Windows 11) PCs. It costs $40, but you can also play it through an Xbox Game Pass subscription. If you've never tried out Destiny 2, you definitely should, as it's easily one of the best Xbox One shooters and also one of the best looter shooters for Xbox.

If you do decide to check the game out, make sure you review our Destiny 2 beginner's guide on how to get into Destiny in 2021 for helpful tips, tricks, and information that will help you get acclimated with its systems. Also, if you're interested in tackling Destiny 2's raids, don't miss our Destiny 2 Vault of Glass raid guide and our Destiny 2 Deep Stone Crypt raid guide.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.