Destiny 2 Root of Nightmares Raid: All encounters and mechanics

Destiny 2 Root of Nightmares Raid: All encounters and mechanics
Images via Bungie

Written by 

Dave McAdam


11th Mar 2023 15:27


Destiny 2 Root of Nightmares is here, and our standoff with Nezarec is upon us. Destiny 2 raids are all about teamwork and efficiency, for which you need a plan. Root of Nightmares has some fun but thankfully not too taxing mechanics for players to get their heads around, and it's easily some of the most fun to be had in Lightfall, the game's latest expansion.

Here is our full raid guide for Destiny 2 Root of Nightmares. Looking for the Raid's loot table? We've got a guide for the Destiny 2 Root of Nightmares raid loot table, too.

Root of Nightmares: Raid mechanics and general tips

Destiny 2 Root of Nightmares: A Light orb
Click to enlarge

As with many Destiny 2 raids, there are some overarching mechanics that you need to be aware of. Thankfully, you don't need to memorise dozens of symbols or anything like that this time, you really need to understand two things, Field of Light and Flux of Darkness.

These are buffs that we will be referring to as the Light and Dark buffs going forward, to make things simpler. Throughout most of the raid, you will encounter floating orbs, white ones with a blue aura and black orbs with an orange aura. Standing near either and shooting it will grant the respective Light or Dark buff to everyone nearby.

For the most part, your team will need to get these buffs, then follow the trail of light to the next orb and shoot that one. After that, return to the orb that is glowing again to regain the buff and follow the trail to the next orb.

These mechanics are part of three of the four encounters. In each, you will need to be quick and efficient, so make sure the players on your team who handle the orbs are quick. Usually, you only need one or two players dedicated to this mechanic. The others can focus on the droves of enemies that appear throughout the raid.

As such, loadouts catered towards ad clear and taking down tough enemies are your best bet here. Whatever builds you have that are great at clearing rooms, are the ones you want to use in Root of Nightmares.

The last thing to be aware of is a wipe mechanic, in which a burst of either Dark or Light energy engulfs the area. This first happens between encounters two and three, where a massive wave of Darkness will wipe out your team if you are not prepared.

To avoid this, you need to grab the Light buff from a Light orb, and then while it is active, get the Dark buff. This will give you Darkness Refuge, and allow you to survive the wave. During the final boss fight, Nezarec can use both Dark and Light to wipe your team.

You need Darkness Refuge to survive the Darkness wipe. To get Light Refuge, reverse the order and grab Dark and then Light. Only one player needs to shoot the orbs, as everyone standing in the aura of the second orb will also get the buff.

Root of Nightmares first encounter: Cataclysm

Destiny 2 Root of Nightmares: starting the Cataclysm encounter
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The first encounter breaks us into the Light and Dark buff mechanic that permeates the raid. You will need to grab the Light buff at the beginning, and following the Light trail that points in a particular direction, head to the next orb and shoot it with the Light buff to activate it. Return to the first Light orb to reacquire the buff and follow the trail to get to the next orb.

You need to get the buff again each time you use it, but where you get the buff from will change. As you are activating orbs, you will form a chain along them. As you progress, you will be getting the buff from at least two orbs back in the order you have activated them. Just continue to grab buffs and activate orbs to complete this encounter.

Meanwhile, a timer called Sweeping Terror will be ticking down. When it hits zero, your team wipes. To prevent this, the rest of your team who are not doing buffs need to focus on clearing out enemies.

Shielded Psions will appear around the area, taking them out will cause Tormentors to spawn. Defeating those Tormentors is how you extend the Sweeping Terror timer, meaning this is your top priority. Keep that timer from hitting zero, pass the Light buff to all the orbs, and the encounter will be completed.

Root of Nightmares second encounter: Scission

Destiny 2 Root of Nightmares: crossing the gap
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Scission uses the same buff mechanic from the first encounter, but introduces the Dark buff. The objective with both buffs is the same as encounter one, but must be done in tandem. This means you need to dedicate at least two players to moving the buffs along from orb to orb.

Other players will again be focusing on ads, but this time there is a twist. Some enemies can only be damaged while you have either the Light or Dark buff, so players who are focused on defeating enemies will also need to grab the buffs.

Structurally, this encounter takes place on either side of a large chasm. To cross the chasm, there are devices that slingshot you across the gap. You will know them by the small floating object just in front of them, shoot that object to activate the mechanism and fly across.

The pattern of the Light and Dark buffs zig-zags across the gap, so if you dedicate one player to each, they will need to consistently jump back and forth. You can save time by instead having the two players swap between Dark and Light, doing whatever is closest to them. This can be confusing, so stick with dedicated players on each buff if you prefer.

Complete the patterns and get to the end of the area, where the man cannons will fire you up to the next level. Repeat the process here then proceed to the third and final floor. Do it all over again to complete the Scission encounter.

Root of Nightmares third encounter: Macrocosm - Zo'Aurc, Explicator of Planets

Destiny 2 Root of Nightmares: Facing off against Zo'Aurc
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Now we are on to the first boss of the raid, Zo'Aurc. He is a big mean Cabal who enjoys planetariums and organisation. To defeat him, you will need to help him with both of those things.

The room in which you fight Zo-Aurc has a central area leading from the back to the front, and four triangular platforms, two on each side. Above each point of each triangle is a planet, with three more planets above the central area where Zo-Aurc is.

The two triangles on the left are known as the Light side, and the triangles on the right are the Dark side. You will need a player dedicated to each triangle, with two remaining in the centre for ad clear.

As the encounter begins, many enemies will spawn. Defeat the four Centurions to spawn four Terrestrial Lieutenants, who also happen to be Colossi, one on each triangle. Defeating one of the Lieutenants gives you Planetary Insight. With this buff, you will see each planet with either a Light or Dark aura.

You will then see that of the three planets above your triangle, one of them is incorrect. If you are on the Light (left) side, one of your planets will be Dark. You need to move the odd one out over to the other side. To do this, stand underneath it and grab the Planetary Attunement. You now need to run to the opposite side and deposit it at the odd planet out on the other side.

Destiny 2 Root of Nightmares: Fighting a Planetary Lieutenant
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The only issue is, you can only see the auras of your own planets, so you need to communicate with teammates about which planet you need to go to. A good idea is to number the positions of the planets, so you can quickly tell your teammates which planet they need to go to.

Once this is done, more Plantary Lieutenants will appear. Defeat them to get  the buff again, this time you need to focus on the three planets in the centre of the room. Each one will be glowing either Light or Dark, and you simply need to grab the corresponding buff from any of the planets on the triangles, and bring it to the correct planet. Once all three are done, shoot the floating shard in the middle to complete the mechanic and begin boss damage.

Zo'Aurc will acquire a shield, and it will either be blue or orange. Plates around the area will also begin glowing either blue or orange. Your team needs to gather on a plate matching his shield to do damage to him. Eventually he will become immune, so move to the next matching plate. You get three plates before he becomes immune again and you need to repeat the entire process.

The main thing you need to be mindful of is his wall of flame attack. Basically, when you see a wall of flame charging towards you, get out of the way. Other than that, just repeat the above steps until Zo-Aurc is pushing up daisies and you are moving on to the final encounter.

  • If you need to up your damage output or fill out your arsenal, we have all the Destiny 2 Lightfall exotics listed and with guides to help you out.

Root of Nightmares fourth encounter: Nezarec, Final God of Pain

Destiny 2 Root of Nightmares: Fighting Nezarec, as he is about to slam his weapon
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The final boss is Nezarec, a disciple of the Witness. Nezarec physically resembles the Tormentors that appear throughout the Lightfall campaign, and fights much like they do. In this encounter, the Dark and Light orbs return, as does the Dark and Light wipe mechanic.

There are three jobs in this encounter. One is the deal with the Light and Dark orbs, one is to manage all the many ads in the arena, and the last is to deal with Nezarec himself. The Light and Dark orbs work the same as before, with Light on the left side and Dark on the right, so you are best to dedicate two players to them. Managing ads is as straightforward as you might imagine, so dedicate some players to keeping the ads down and out of the way.

The third job of managing Nezarec is a bit more involved. At the beginning of the fight, Nezarec will be at the back of the arena. He has a crit spot on either shoulder, which you can and should break. When the second shoulder breaks, you will see a burst of either Light or Dark energy, take note of which one you see.

Once his shoulders are done, his weak spot on his chest will be visible. You can shoot it to gain Nezec's Hatred, which is essentially his aggro. You want players dedicated to this as you do not want him to focus on the players doing the Light and Dark buffs.

Destiny 2 Root of Nightmares: Nezarec defeated
Click to enlarge

Eventually, Nezarec will begin to glow with either Light or Dark energy. This means he is about to wipe your team, so you all need to gather together and get the appropriate refuge buff. This means grabbing Dark the Light if he is charging Light, or Light then Dark if he is charging Dark. Note that you cannot use the currently glowing orbs for this, so shoot any of the inactive orbs to get the buffs.

Once the Light and Dark buffs are done and the chains are complete, damage phase will begin. Nezarec will charge at your team and attack. Your best bet is to huddle on one of the platforms near the edge of the map. Staying together on one of them, particularly with some wells and wards, will prevent Nezarec from damaging you too much.

Do as much damage to Nezarec as you can, then repeat the process. Whittle his health down to his final stand, then pump all the damage you can into him to finish him off. With that, Nezarec is defeated and Root of Nightmares is completed.

That is it for our Destiny 2 Root of Nightmares full raid guide. For more on the game, check out our Destiny 2 Partition guide.

Dave McAdam
About the author
Dave McAdam
Dave is a Senior Guides Writer at GGRecon, after several years of freelancing across the industry. He covers a wide range of games, with particular focus on shooters like Destiny 2, RPGs like Baldur's Gate 3 and Cyberpunk 2077, and fighting games like Street Fighter 6 and Tekken 8.
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