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Destiny 2 Nightfall: Timewarps and modifiers explained, plus how to unlock Nightfalls and other Nightfall tips

How to unlock and complete the tough weekly activities.

Destiny 2 Nightfall Strikes are a special, ultra-hard version of the Strike mode, which rotate to a new Strike from the roster each week.

They're no easy feat, and require a fair bit of work just to unlock in the first place - but once you do, the rewards can be well worth the effort, and that's leaving the sheer sense of satisfaction aside.

With that in mind, here we'll be explaining how to unlock Nightfalls and our best Nightfall tips.

It's worth noting as of December 5 we won't be updating this page weekly with specific advice for each individual Nightfall, but we have a comprehensive set of tips throughout to help you tackle any variation of modifiers you'll encounter.

What are Nightfalls? Destiny 2 Nightfalls, Prestige Nightfalls, and Nightfall rewards explained

Nightfalls are essentially a hardcore version of a specific Strike.

Each week, a new Strike from the roster will be picked out to be the Nightfall for the next seven days, adding considerably tougher versions enemies and a greater number of high-ranking foes like Captains and shielded enemies, too.

Along with that general spike in difficulty, Nightfalls also now have two new features that they didn't back in Destiny 1: a timer, which ticks down from fifteen minutes and means you fail when it hits zero; and a rotating modifier.

Each week, there's a new set of modifiers that change how you play and increase the time remaining on the clock.

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Nightfall rewards:

Nightfall Strikes offer some of the most highly rated rewards in game. Each week there will be a Milestone tasking you with completing the latest Nightfall, which grants you 'Powerful Gear', otherwise known as a Luminous Engram, with a high chance of containing Exotic and Legendary loot.

Otherwise, Nightfalls and Prestige Nightfalls award both blue and purple - Rare and Legendary - loot as a standard reward for completion.

You can read more on those types of Engram, including the max Power level they can grant you, in our Destiny 2 power level page, but in brief that combination of Luminous, Legendary, and Rare Engram rewards means Nightfalls are one of a handful of end-game activities that can let you continue to raise your Power to 305.

Prestige Nightfalls explained:

Prestige Nightfalls are essentially a hard mode on top of the hard mode that is tackling a Nightfall Strike as it is!

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Instead of a recommended 240 Power, Prestige Nightfalls recommend you have at least 300 Power (if you're struggling to get there, take a look at our Destiny 2 Power Level grinding guide), whilst there are also a couple of other conditions: the time pressure is greater, enemies are even tougher, and you also can't change your loadout once the Nightfall starts, meaning careful planning is required.

If you're looking into taking these on, then good luck. And if you manage to finish it, you get a special Aura until the next reset.

How to unlock Nightfall in Destiny 2

Before you unlock Nightfall Strikes, you first need to unlock Strikes, defeat two of them, and reach Power level 230.

So, first you need to complete the story mission 'Fury', and speak to Zavala, unlocking Strikes as an option from your Director.

That unlocks the Strikes milestone, which requires you to complete any two Strikes from the roster - you can do that just by selecting it from the Director and diving into the playlist.

After that, check back in with Zavala for your reward, and the Nightfall milestone will appear in your milestones tab. From there, you'll see that you need to reach Power level 230 or above.

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Once you hit that Power level, go talk to Zavala again, and he'll unlock Nightfalls for you. Access them from the Strikes section of the in-game Director, and you're ready to go - or at least, you are in theory - we have a tips for you below before you dive in!

Destiny 2 Nightfall modifiers and Nightfall timewarps explained

The Nightfall Strike changes each week after the Tuesday reset, and with it comes a change in the various modifiers and timewarps that help or hinder your progress.

Nightfall modifiers:

  • Prism - Prism is a new way of using 'burns', which back in the first Destiny were a fixed damage type - Arc, Void, or Solar - which did both additional damage to enemies and caused you to take additional damage of that type. Now, under Prism, they rotate periodically during the Nightfall Strike, displaying what's active on the bottom left of the screen. Mastering the use of that damage boost will play a big part in your success, so come equipped with either a varied Fireteam or different elements for weapons and your subclass.
  • Attrition - Health and shield regeneration is severely hampered. Defeat enemies to create 'wells of Light' that can restore health and charge your Super. These act (and appear) in a very similar way to Orbs of Light that are generated from using Supers. It basically means you need to be aggressive (or clear the battlefield from the safety of cover) to get your health back.
  • Momentum - Health and shield regeneration is disabled when standing, so you must sprint to replenish them. This means you need to flee firefights to recover health, but the process is faster than normal shield regeneration - so it's a surprising double-edged sword.
  • Torrent - This vastly increases the recharge rate of your grenades and class ability. This is usually coupled with Zero Hero, and allows you to spam grenades to clear groups of enemies. This is the easiest and most enjoyable modifier, so even if you're not a huge fan of Nightfalls, we'd recommend you give this one a go..

Nightfall timewarps:

  • Killing Time - Killing enemies will add a small amount of time back onto the countdown timer, giving you a greater chance of completing the Nightfall or hitting any time-based Nightfall challenges. If you're finding yourself consistently low on time and can't get through the Strike any faster, try quickly killing a few more enemies with things like grenades and supers on your way.
  • Rings - Jumping through the glowing rings you find along your path adds 30 seconds onto your timer. Once you trigger the first ring, more will appear, and you will have a minute or so to get as many as you can before they expire, so only activate when you're ready - ideally once you've cleared all enemies nearby.
  • Anomalies - Anomalies are clusters of energy that, when shot, will increase your timer. They tend to appear tucked around the sides of objects, low down off the edges of walkable areas, and high up in the corners. They glow blue, making them a little easier to spot from a distance. Get into a habit of looking behind you in each area, as they like to tuck them away in places you'd miss without turning back. If you're struggling, try to learn their placements on a trial run then replay to do it much faster.
  • Zero Hour - Unlike other Timewarp modifiers, there is no way to top up your countdown clock. In other ways, that means the time you start with is all you have. Get going!
Destiny 2 guide, story walkthrough Class changes, Exotics, levelling and more explained. Destiny 2 guide, story walkthrough

Looking for more help? Our Destiny 2 DLC Curse of Osiris guide and walkthrough can explain everything with the new expansion, including how to get Lost Prophecy Verses and the Lighthouse secret chest, activate the Mercury Heroic Public Event and get the many new Destiny 2 Exotics. We also dive into the new 330 / 335 max level cap in detail, what to spend Glimmer and Legendary Shards on, how Mods, Infusion, and Engrams work, plus a full walkthrough of the Destiny 2 Leviathan Raid.

Other Destiny 2 Nightfall tips

Once you've managed to unlock the Nightfall game mode, you might not want to jump in right away. As we've already said several times, it's tough, so make sure you get a few levels up first

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Damage: negligable.

There are, however, several tips you can bear in mind to help you get through the Nightfall smoothly..

Destiny 2 Nightfall tips:

  • Stick to the recommended Power level - The first thing to be aware of is the fact that, although Nightfalls unlock at one Power level, really that's too low. You'll find your weapons barely even tickling the most basic of enemies, even with headshots, and standard, low level foes will kill you in a single shot. Aim for a little over the recommended across your entire Fireteam, where things start to feel a little more sane.
  • The modifiers can make a huge difference - For Prism, for example, you'll need Arc, Solar, and Void damage available to every member of your Fireteam if you want to make it through, because a well timed super or heavy weapon spam on a boss, with the right Burn active, can make all the difference, shredding health from something that would normally take several valuable minutes to complete.
  • Take weapons with you that you know how to use well - The first time we tried a Nightfall strike, we took in a high-powered Sidearm as our primary weapon, and the constant-beam Coldheart as our Energy weapon. It was a bad mistake! The lack of range, variety, and ability to hit multiple enemies quickly, as well as our lack of experience with the two weapons was a major issue. Aim to have flexible, easy to use, and familiar weapons with you. It may even be worth going for slightly lower powered weapons that you know better, but either way it's worth the extra time grinding for them!
  • Learn each Strike and where you can skip through - With time being short, learning where you can jump on a Sparrow to speed through sections you know there won't be any Timewarp-specific sections or enemies you can farm for easy top-ups of time is very useful. The easiest way to do this is to run a Strike playlist or simply replay Nightfalls until you do them, and since they rotate back round fairly regularly, practice makes it much easier to complete in future weeks.

Watch our walkthrough of the game's second Nightfall with Prism and Ring Timewarp modifiers:

  • You'll struggle without using the timewarp - The timer ticks down much faster than you may think, and wasting time can see things cut short before you even make it half way through. When you do have to sit still in a hostile area, do your best to think about the timewarps. Are you missing Rings, or skipping easier to kill enemies? Making the most of those time bonuses can make all the difference.
  • Don't forget your class ability - Though you can complete any Nightfall with any Fireteam, certain sub-classes come in handy for certain situations. The Hunter's Nightstalker sub-class (Void), which allows you to turn invisible using a grenade, is perfect for reviving team mates, capturing gates and so on. Meanwhile, the Warlock's healing well is useful for those Modifiers that don't recharge your shields as normal.
  • Finally, don't be afraid to fail! - Almost nobody completes the Nightfall Strikes on the first try. Failure is part of it, and is hugely helpful in teaching you lessons about how to progress. Learn which parts you can run through, where you need to fight, and what you need to prioritise at each step. As long as you're paying attention, you'll see yourself progress a little further with each run!

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