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Destiny 2's Grandmaster Nightfalls are back, and still a great challenge

Turning Destiny into a tactical shooter

Grandmaster-difficulty Nightfall Strikes have returned to Destiny 2 and yep, they're still mega-tough missions full of punishing modifiers. It's great. As I've said before, GM Nightfalls turn Destiny into a tactical shooter where every fight is a puzzle to solve and every corner a potential deathtrap. They're difficult in a way that makes them better, not just harder. Last night I completed the season's first GM Nightfall, Devil's Lair, and strongly recommended having a go yourself - if you reach the demanding level requirement.

GMs are Strikes with dozens of difficulty modifiers piled on top, with the mission and modifiers rotating weekly. The debut of GMs in Season Of The Chosen is on Devil's Lair, where you will find the modifiers (deep breath): Overload Champions; Barrier Champions; Vandals dropping mines upon death; reduced ammo drops; Match Game making enemy shields super-tough unless you match elemental damage; extra shields on top of that; radar disabled; a limited number of revives, earned back by defeating Champions; no swapping or changing gear mid-run; taking extra Arc and splash damage; and Extinguish meaning if your team wipes, you have to start over.

It's a lot. But that's good.

The feeling of a well-organsied team working together is part of why Destiny's raids are such fun, and GMs require a type of a coordination not often found elsewhere. With no serious puzzling, your team of three are instead focused on working together in fights against overwhelming odds. You need to call specific targets to focus on (because even trash mobs can murder you), make plans for every room, fall into a feeling for how everyone else plays, and scramble to recover when things go wrong. I was immensely satisfied as we methodically cleared a giant battlefield in Devil's Lair with a tank, three mechs, and a half-dozen Champions. It's a bit like Rainbow 6 with immortal spacewizards.

It's certainly a change of pace from the glitch allowing 12-player raids, which Bungie fixed in yesterday's patch. Rip clown car Destiny, forever in our spacehearts.

The barrier to entry is rough, though. You need to be at 1325 Power level to play a GM, and good gear obviously helps. The level requirement is a bit tedious considering GMs are both gated and capped to 1325, making it just a requirement that you do lots of grinding to boost your level. As someone who has done that grinding, I wouldn't be at all bothered if they were open to people who didn't. Using caps, Bungie could open it to many more people without making it any less difficult. I wouldn't care.

That said, you can do GMs without all the rarest meta weapons. Hell, ludicrous Destiny player "Esoterickk" has already completed it solo using a Legendary scout rifle, that lovely new Exotic bow from the season pass, and a Legendary machine gun. None of that's particularly hard to come across - and, y'know, you can bring two pals to help out.

A bad Adept roll of Destiny 2 machinegun The Swarm.
Thanks, this is worthless.

While GM Nightfalls were previously just for the challenge and bragging rights, they have returned with special rewards. You can get special Adept versions of Vanguard weapons, which have a special shader and can accept the fancy Adept mods seen on Trials Of Osiris Adept gear. The mods drop from GMs too. It's a shame that the current Vanguard Adepts are simply kinda bad guns. But hey, I'm here for the challenge, not the guns.

A big hello and thank you to "Mjukis" and "Wardancer" of the RPS clan for our two GM wins last night, and John for the trial runs. For the curious, we went in as: Warlock with Well Of Radiance, Phoenix Protocol, and an anti-barrier Izanagi's Burden; Titan with Ursa Furiosa plus a Le Monarque bow set to anti-overload; and a stasis Hunter with Mask Of Bakris and Divinity. Plus rockets. Lots of rockets. Good times.

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Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.