Home  >  Games  >  Destiny 2  >  Raids, Dungeons, Strikes, & Missions

Destiny 2: Lightfall Root of Nightmares Raid Guide

Root of Nightmares is one of the most visually impressive raids in a while, and it also has some amazing loot to make it worth grinding. We’ll go through all four encounters here, and we’ll include info on all the mechanics and strats you need to know. Let’s get started with how to launch Root of Nightmares and the light requirements.

How to Start Root of Nightmares (and Light Requirements)

Root of Nightmares is located on Neptune, so you launch it by selecting that planet on the menu. Owning the Lightfall expansion is required for Root of Nightmares, but that’s to be expected. The base Light requirement for Root of Nightmares on normal difficulty is 1770. It helps to be a bit above that level, but there’s no need to go for the highest possible Light.

First Encounter — Cataclysm

The First Encounter Cataclysm in the Root of Nightmares Raid
(Image: Bungie via HGG / Brett Moss)

Roles: Orb Runner (1-2 people), Ad-Clear (everyone else)

Recommended Loadouts/Classes:

  • For both roles, you really just need ad-clear weapons for this encounter. Void heavy machine guns work best since they have great ammo economy and benefit from Volatile Rounds.
  • At least one or two people should have something for Barrier Champions.
  • Any classes/subclasses work.

This encounter is simple and quick once you get the hang of it. At the start, you’ll see a floating orb with a white aura around it. Standing inside that aura and shooting the orb grants a buff called Field of Light. The Orb Runner needs this buff to do their job, so only they should be shooting the orbs.

The Field of Light buff allows you to activate orbs and also see the correct order to activate them in. Think of it as a connect-the-dots sequence with a couple extra steps. Here’s a breakdown of what the Orb Runner(s) need to do.

Orb Runners:

  • Get the Field of Light buff by standing near the glowing orb and shooting it.
  • Look at the orb to see what direction it’s pointing. Go that way and activate the next orb.
  • Get the buff back by returning to the glowing orb. The glowing orb isn’t always in the same place, but it’s usually just one or two back in the sequence.
  • Keep repeating this process until you finish four separate sequences.

While Orb Runners do that, the ad-clear team has several tasks to complete. You’ll notice that your entire fireteam has a debuff called Sweeping Terror, and if it hits zero, you wipe. To extend the timer, the ad-clear team needs to spawn and kill Tormentors. Here’s all of the ad-clear team’s tasks.


  • Obviously, the ad-clear team needs to focus ads (small enemies) to allow the Orb Runner(s) time to do their job.
  • Occasionally, Psions will spawn inside bubbles. Find and kill these as quickly as possible to spawn a Tormentor.
  • The Tormentor spawns on either the left or right side of the arena. At the end, they’ll spawn up top by the large building you’re moving towards.
  • Killing a Tormentor delays the wipe mechanic and allows Orb Runners more time to complete their job.

Once you’ve done all that, you’re ready to move on to the second encounter!

Second Encounter — Scission

The Second Encounter Scission in the Root of Nightmares Raid 1
(Image: Bungie via HGG / Brett Moss)

Roles: Orb Runners (2), Ad-Clear (4)

Recommended Loadouts/Classes:

  • Once again, all you need is ad-clear weapons. Heavy machine guns still work best, but whatever you’re comfortable with should work.
  • Classes/subclasses also don’t matter here since there’s no boss, but some people do like Strand for its grapple. It’s a great way to successfully cross the gap if you’re having trouble with the lifts since it can help correct your flight path.

This encounter uses the same orb mechanic from the first, but doubles it. This time, you’ll have one person running the light orbs and another running dark orbs. The dark orbs function exactly the same as the light ones, but the buff is called Flux of Darkness. You’ll also be dealing with the most frustrating, difficult enemy of Destiny 2. Physics.

The Second Encounter Scission in the Root of Nightmares Raid 2
(Image: Bungie via HGG / Brett Moss)

To start this encounter, you’ll want to split your team into groups of three (one group on each side). Each side should have one Orb Runner and two people on ad-clear. Only the Orb Runners have to cross the gap constantly, so the others don’t need to worry about that as much.

There are three floors you’ll need to complete, starting with the bottom one. Each team of three should start by their glowing orb so everyone starts with the buff. (The buff is necessary for the ad-clear team to damage some enemies, but we’ll cover that just below in the ad-clear team section.) Once each side’s Orb Runners have finished their sequences, a bunch of yellow-bar enemies will spawn. Make sure everyone on each side has their buff, because some of those enemies will require it.

The Second Encounter Scission in the Root of Nightmares Raid 3
(Image: Bungie via HGG / Brett Moss)

Then just gather by the lift at the end of the room and get ready to go up to the next floor. That’s all there is to this encounter, so let’s take a more in-depth look at both roles.

Orb Runners:

  • The mechanics are the same as the first encounter. Connect the orbs as quickly as possible so the ad-clear team doesn’t get overwhelmed and run out of revive tokens.
  • Pay close attention to where the orbs are pointing you. Since you’ll be covering more area, it takes more time to go back and check.
  • You will have to cross the gap several times on each floor. Using Strand grapple or an Eager Edge sword can help with this if you have trouble. Some people also say that standing as close as possible to the lift before activating it helps, but this is just a theory so far.
  • This job requires some trial-and-error, so don’t worry if you get confused. It can be hard to keep track of where all the orbs are, so just take it slow and it’ll get easier each time.


  • Make sure and pay attention to where your Orb Runner is. This time, it’s important that at least one ad-clear person gets either the Field of Light or Flux of Darkness buff as well. It’s required to damage some of the ads that spawn, so make sure someone has it at all times.
  • If your side doesn’t have a buff to take care of the shielded enemies, just stay alive and wait until you can get the buff again.
  • Other than that, just clear ads and pay attention so you know when it’s time to re-buff or move up to the next floor.

Journey Between Second and Third Encounters

The Journey Between Second and Third Encounters in the Root of Nightmares Raid 1
(Image: Bungie via HGG / Brett Moss)

Progress through this section as a group so no-one gets lost or left behind. It’s just easier this way than having to wait on someone or having them leave and re-join. The light and dark orbs are back again, but this time you need to combine them. Here’s a quick rundown of how to do this puzzle section.

  • Every now and then, Nezarec unleashes a death pulse that will kill anyone without the Darkness’s Refuge buff.
  • Get Darkness’s Refuge by starting out with the Field of Light buff (stand near a light orb with an aura and shoot it).
  • Then, immediately run over to the nearest dark orb and shoot it while you have Field of Light. This will grant Darkness’s Refuge.
  • Remember this mechanic, as it comes into play again during the final encounter. It’s not required there, but it’s good to know just in case.
The Journey Between Second and Third Encounters in the Root of Nightmares Raid 2
(Image: Bungie via HGG / Brett Moss)

Keep chaining buffs together to survive the fairly long journey to the third encounter. The third encounter is quite a bit harder than the previous two, so let’s get to it.

Third Encounter — Macrocosm

The Third Encounter Macrocosm in the Root of Nightmares Raid 1
(Image: Bungie via HGG / Brett Moss)

Roles: Planet Runners (4), Ad-Clear (2)

Recommended Loadout/Classes:

  • For damage, there are two major strats. Either your team can run rockets or Thunderlord. The rocket loadout will require one person with Gjallarhorn and the rest on their best legendary rockets (Hothead, Ascendancy, or any with Explosive Light works). The Thunderlord comp will require one person with Divinity and everyone else on Thunderlord.
  • For classes/subclasses, the best is Solar Warlock with Well super and Starfire Protocol. Void Titan with Bubble also helps, as do any of the other damage-focused supers.

The third encounter is the first one with a boss, so it’s far more damage-focused. However, the mechanics here are also different than before. Instead of light and dark buffs, we’ll be focusing on planets. As soon as you enter this room, take a look at the various planets floating in the sky. To start a damage phase, you’ll need to put all the planets in the correct order.

This room is split into a few sections (left is light, right is dark). There are four triangles in the room (top left/right, bottom left/right), and one person needs to be assigned to each. These people will be the Planet Runners, and the other two will just focus ads. There are also three plates in the middle section (called left/right/middle), which the Planet Runners need to be aware of.

The Third Encounter Macrocosm in the Root of Nightmares Raid 2
(Image: Bungie via HGG / Brett Moss)

When the encounter begins, clear ads until Centurions spawn. Once you kill those, Lieutenants spawn on the triangle platforms. The person assigned to that triangle needs to kill their Lieutenant to get the Planetary Insight buff. This allows that person to see the planets above their triangle as either light or dark. On the light side, call out which planets are dark (do the opposite on the other side). We’ll call these the “wrong” planets for now. Then pick up the orb below that planet and run to the other side (top sides switch, and same with bottom). Deposit the orb/buff under the “wrong” planet on the other side. Make sure and keep comms clear so everyone knows where they’re going.

After all the planets are back on their correct sides, the planets will start to spin around in the air. Three of them will stop in the middle and glow either light or dark. This is where the three plates in the middle come into play. Planet Runners have to deposit one of their planets under the corresponding one (either light or dark) in the middle. For example, if the three planets show two light and one dark, the two light-side Planet Runners need to deposit under the light ones and one of the dark side Runners needs to do the same for the dark one. Here’s the Planet Runner’s role broken down into simpler form.

Planet Runners:

  • Pick a triangle platform to call home.
  • Kill Centurions until Lieutenants spawn on the triangles.
  • Only kill the Lieutenant on the triangle you’re responsible for, since killing it grants the Planetary Insight buff.
  • Use Planetary Insight to see which planet above your triangle is “wrong.” For example, if you’re on the light side, call out which planet is dark.
  • Pick up the buff beneath the “wrong” planet. Take it across to the other side (top goes to top, bottom to bottom) and deposit it under the “wrong” planet on that side. Make sure and call out the planets so no-one gets confused or forgets. You’re essentially trading planets with the other side to get them into the right places.
  • Once all the planets are in the right places, wait until they shift and three end up in the middle. Pay attention to what type of planets they are (light or dark). For the light ones, the Planet Runners on light side need to grab any light planet and deposit on the plate under the corresponding planet. Same for dark side.
  • After that’s done, prepare for a damage phase.
The Third Encounter Macrocosm in the Root of Nightmares Raid 3
(Image: Bungie via HGG / Brett Moss)

Right before the damage phase, you need to pay attention to the boss. Before the phase begins, he’ll glow either orange (dark) or white (light). If he glows orange, stand on an orange plate to start damage. If he’s glowing white, start on a white plate. These plates grant buffs which allow you to damage the boss, but you don’t have to constantly stay on them. Repeat this process on all three plates to do a full damage phase.

During the damage phase, throw all your damage at the boss. When you get close to final stand (the cut off at the end of the health bar), make sure your team has enough damage left to finish the boss off. If you don’t one-phase the boss (which you probably won’t), just repeat this whole process until you finish the encounter.

Fourth Encounter — Nezarec, Final God of Pain

The Fourth Encounter Nezarec, Final God of Pain in the Root of Nightmares Raid 1
(Image: Bungie via HGG / Brett Moss)

Roles: Orb Runners (2), Nezarec Patrol (2), Ad-Clear (2)

Recommended Loadout/Classes:

  • For damage, you can just use whatever your team used for the third encounter. Rockets (Gjallarhorn + Explosive Light legendaries), Thunderlord, or whatever else your team wants to run will probably all work. At least on normal difficulty, you should be able to finish with any decent weapons.
  • For classes/subclasses, Solar Warlock is once again best. Well of Radiance is basically a necessity in this raid, and Starfire Protocol allows for insane damage numbers. Outside of that, Arc Hunter could be great for damage, Void Titan is always solid, and Strand is a fun pick. Really just run whatever you want here, as long as you have at least one Well of Radiance.

Nezarec, Final God of Pain is the final boss of Root of Nightmares, and you’ll face him here. The main mechanic of this fight is the light and dark orbs from earlier, so nothing new there. Also the same as before is the layout of the room. Left is light, right is dark. Let’s take a look at what each role needs to do in order to make it to a damage phase.

The Fourth Encounter Nezarec, Final God of Pain in the Root of Nightmares Raid 2
(Image: Bungie via HGG / Brett Moss)

Orb Runners:

  • Connect the dots on your side, just the same as in other encounters. You need to be as fast as possible, but that’ll get easier as you get used to the route.
  • If your Orb Runners can’t finish their sequences quick enough, Nezarec will trigger a wipe mechanic. This can be negated by having the Patrol team call out what color Nezarec glows when they break his shoulder crit spots. If it’s light/white, you’ll need the dark side Orb Runner to come and shoot a light orb to grant the Light’s Refuge buff. Same goes for the other side as well, just reversed. (The Runner needs to have their normal buff active when they shoot the orb.) This whole mechanic can be skipped if the Runners complete their sequences fast enough, though.
The Fourth Encounter Nezarec, Final God of Pain in the Root of Nightmares Raid 3
(Image: Bungie via HGG / Brett Moss)

Nezarec Patrol:

  • The Nezarec Patrol team is responsible for distracting Nezarec. He occasionally targets players with his “hatred” (that’s actually the name of the debuff), and the Patrol team needs to take that debuff from any players that get it.
  • If a player is targeted by Nezarec’s hatred, their screen will glow purple. Nezarec will very aggressively target that player and chase them around the arena until the Patrol team takes the debuff from them.
  • To take Nezarec’s hatred for yourself, shoot his glowing crit spots (on his shoulders and chest)
  • When you break both his shoulder crit spots, he’ll radiate either light or dark (white or orange). If your Orb Runners aren’t fast enough to complete their sequence in time, this might become relevant, so call it out either way.
  • If you don’t break his crit spots fast enough, Nezarec will jump up into the air and wipe your team.


  • Focus the yellow-bar enemies on both sides first. Especially at higher difficulties, those can easily down your Runner.
  • Ad-clear people don’t necessarily have to stay on one side, but it works best if they do. That way they can learn the ad spawn points and quickly clear them. This is also more important at higher difficulties.
The Fourth Encounter Nezarec, Final God of Pain in the Root of Nightmares Raid 4
(Image: Bungie via HGG / Brett Moss)

Once both sides’ Orb Runner has completed their job, it’s damage time. You can do damage from anywhere, but standing on the plates is your best bet. Nezarec doesn’t have a ton of health compared to other raid bosses, so it shouldn’t be too hard to melt him. Regardless what method of damage your team goes for, just make sure and conserve some ammo for final stand. I personally had three consecutive wipes on final stand during contest mode, so I can attest to how much you want to avoid that if possible.

Join the High Ground!

That’s it for Root of Nightmares! Hopefully this guide will help as you grind for all that new raid gear. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more guides to Destiny 2 and your other favorite games!

Happy gaming!

Destiny 2 Navigation


Continue the Adventure!

Sign up for an account at High Ground Gaming, and access all these amazing perks:

  • Custom profile page
  • Save articles to favorites
  • Rate articles
  • Post comments & engage with the community
  • Access the HGG Discord
  • Enter giveaways
This is a pre-registration form. Fill in the following details to verify your email address first. You will be able to access the full registration form and register for an account after the verification.

Join the Discussion

Give feedback on the article, share additional tips & tricks, talk strategy with other members, and make your opinions known. High Ground Gaming is a place for all voices, and we'd love to hear yours!


Forgot Password?

Join Us