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A Very Comprehensive Nightstalker Guide in Destiny: The Taken King (How to Nightstalker)

What will be in this guide?

This guide will cover a general overview of the Nightstalker - what works best when, and why - as well as a brief discussion at the end about certain setups and the synergy they provide. This guide will also briefly mention Exotics that have good synergy with the class, Achlyophage Symbiote for a Gunslinger in Year 1 is highly preferable.


Spike Grenade is the least useful of the three, simply because of how dependent it is on the geometry of where it's placed. Raise your hand if, as a Gunslinger, you've ever thought you were sticking your tripmine to flat wall only to discover that that tiny pipe actually does have geometry to it, and your once perfect tripmine to deny a hall is no sticking into the air, a threat to no one. Welcome to the Spike Grenade.

Getting slightly more useful, the Void Wall grenade is great at finishing enemies who take cover in Crucible or for weakening incoming Thrall and denying other enemies access. The AI of enemies can be a bit iffy as they typically will remove themselves from anything dealing AoE damage or DoT, but I've seen Minotaurs walk through a Voidwall grenade is there's no other way to shoot me in the face. That said, however, the direction of the grenade is also somewhat iffy. Combine this with the fact that you need to practically be on top of it to take any time (although it is a lot), and Voidwall still gets #2 pick.

Last and certainly not least, the Vortex. What makes this one the best, you may ask? Consistency. While its damage output may be less than the Voidwall or Spike grenades, its area of effect is the largest and certainly the most predictable. When throwing this grenade, who know exactly where the damage is going and you'll never be disappointed by some RNG angle it decided to take. It can also completely block off a lot of tight hallways in Crucible maps. My favorite use, however, is to follow up a Shadow Shot with it on spawning Taken adds. The tether will prevent them from leaving the AoE while increase the damage and can often wipe out the entire spawn group on it's own.

Note: Always use Vortex. In PvP, this is best used as an area denial tool in Objective game types like Salvage or to lock off entire hallways. In PvE, follow up your Shadow Shot with a Vortex grenade to deal tons of damage, especially to adds that spawn in close quarters, like Vex and Taken. If you prefer your grenade to clean up kills, rather than soften them, Voidwall may still be the choice for you.

The Double Jump

Jumping should almost always be 'what feels best for you', so consider this section 100% opinion, and short, as anyone who played a Gunslinger will probably just carry over whatever they had here. That said, if you're playing Crucible, Better Control is highly recommended. In Halo, jumping at the start of your strafe was always a rookie mistake and a death sentence. This is still mostly true for Destiny. Once you jump, your head is now moving on a very easy to predict arc, and you should be punished for it. While Destiny allows you to jump an additional (or two additional) time, this simply resets that arc and is still predictable. Improved Control basically gives you a midair strafe which forces your opponent to not only predict your vertical movements, but also your horizontal ones.

So in the end, we come to Higher Jump vs Triple Jump for PvE and, again, this is largely a preference choice. To keep things current with The Taken King, during the ship jumping puzzle for the King's Fall raid, as well as the Dreadnought Dick Wall puzzle (particularly getting the chest here), Higher Jump is far easier and more useful. However, if you need to cover longer distances or perhaps to feather a fall (looking at you, Paradox), then Triple Jump might be your best bet.

Note: Always take Improved Control for PvP. For PvE, use whichever you feel most comfortable with. Higher Jump for the King's Fall raid puzzles is highly recommended.

Shadow Shot

Also known as the most versatile Super in the game, Shadow Shot is what makes the Nightstalker invaluable to any Fireteam. Additionally, none of its upgrades are bad, by any means, and it's hard to pick a clear cut winner. It's also the only current counter to Sunbreaker Titans and Stormcaller Warlocks - while shooting them won't outright kill them. but the tether does take them (and anyone else) out of their super. So with that said, let's dive in, starting with Blood Bound. This modifier is great and it's one that I used for pretty much the entire leveling of the class. Firing a tether into a spawning group of Taken or Vex and killing one to kill all of them is so satisfying. There's really not much to say about Blood Bound - it's just good. But is it the best?

Enter the Black Hole. While that may not be good advice, Black Hole is certainly a good modification to the Shadow Shot. While it sounds boring on paper (more range, more duration, more targets), it couldn't be more useful, particularly the 'more duration' bit. As most of you know, the reason Nightstalkers are so valuable in raids is because the Shadow Shot provides a debuff to enemies, including raid bosses, that causes them to take significantly more damage. Especially in instances like the WarPriest, this can often mean the difference between life and wipe.

Lastly, let's mention the most offensive and PvP orientated perk for Shadow shot, Quiver. It's pretty easy to understand why someone would pick it - you're able to shoot off up to three Shadow Shots during its duration, though their anchors will have reduced range. This basically turns your Shadow Shot until a Golden Gun with an AoE debuff. This post discussed Quiver's potential in PvE extremely well. Essentially, Quiver can actually lead to a longer tether time than the Black Hole, if spaced out properly, and each shot procs the 'Replenish' perk of some weapons.

So which is best? Hard to say and it really comes down to the rest of your setup and how best to compliment it. Most people say Quiver is a must for PvP, but in this guide, it's rather oppositw: Quiver is misleading and you shouldn't consider the de facto choice for PvP. Why? Unlike the new subclasses that are all but immortal during their super activation (looking at you, Hammer "bro"), the Nightstalker is incredibly vulnerable during the short cast time of Shadow Shot. In fact, if your trigger finger is quick enough, you can snipe the Nightstalker mid-cast, canceling the arrow and still using up the Super. In larger gametypes where you have more targets to take advantage of the three possible kills, you'll probably die or run out of super before you can get that third shot off. It's simply better to fire one shot, get a kill, and make anyone close to the tether a sitting duck.

Note: Taking Black Hole and the Vortex grenade is preferable, essentially giving you a built in Blood Bound. In objective modes like Salvage or Control, you may find Blood Bound useful, however. Quiver is by no means bad but considering it the 'end all, be all' choice for PvP is a mistake, in my opinion.


Cigarette smoke is bad, and it kills you, and those around you. Nightstalker smoke is good, it hides you, and those around you. 

Holy balls is Envenomed Smoke good. There's a lot of hype about 'Vanish in Smoke', and we'll get there, but let's appreciate Envenomed Smoke for what it is. All smoke slows and disorients those struck by it, except allies... so why not throw it at an enemy? Envenomed synergies with this slow by damaging those who remain in the explosion. So if we run Vortex, why run Envenomed? While they do the same thing, Envenomed does something else - it sticks. Nothing is more rewarding than sticking an enemy with an Envenomed Smoke grenade and watching them try to get out of the effect, only to have it follow them wherever they go. But maybe you miss - not a problem. Envenomed Smoke also adds a lovely, thick smokescreen. Really, its uses in PvP are endless and it's probably the most versatile power in the game.

But Vanish in Smoke is good, and I will always recommend this for PvE. Remember how I talked about how the best part of a Blade Dancer in PvE was being able to cloak-revive your teammates? That what this is, but now you can do other stuff as well. During raids and strikes, there's no excuse not to take this ability. Don't count it out for PvP, however. Stealth in PvP, especially when you can active at will, for multiple people, and with the duration it has, it can absolutely be considered, especially on larger maps where sniping is more of a concern.

Lastly, Snare. If you could pair it with Envenomed, it'd be nice to just tag into onto a salvaging relic and use it as deterrent against the enemy team but to be perfectly honest, there's no real reason to take this over the other two.

Note: Envenomed sticks, take it to PvP. Vanish in Smoke saves lives, take it to PvE. NEXT!

Paths and Ways

You should always pick which of these complements your play style the best. That said, you're a Hunter and should typically be focused on Recovery/Agility above Armor. For that, you'll want "Path Forbidden" and "Way of the Nomad".

Ability Modifiers

Keeping it simple still, while Courage of the Pack is nice, Most of Nightstalker will never once been in a situation where you thought "You know, if we had more Recovery and Armor, we probably would've survived." Combine this with the fact that you're missing out on something Nightstalkers are known for - orb generation - once you can use Light of the Pack, leave the Courage at the door.

Light of the Pack is what can make Nightstalkers so annoying to the other team, and an asset to your allies. For every tethered enemy you kill, you drop an orb. This is in addition to the usual 2-3 orbs generated from firing your tether/killing a target with Shadow Shot. Because of this, a well-aimed shot can easily generate enough orbs to get one or more of your allies to their supers, which will generate orbs that will get you to your super faster, and the cycle goes on and on and on. An important note, and a mistake I made, is that Crest of the Alpha Lupi grants an additional orb on the initial Shadow Shot (so 3-4, instead of 2-3) but does not activate on tethered kills - you still only generate a single orb.

So if Light of the Pack is so good, why even consider Lockdown? It has its uses in Crucible, particularly objective mods like Salvage and Control, where can deny the enemy team pretty hard. In addition, you can get 2-3 Shadow Shots off per Skirmish game, which translates to a max of 15 Orbs but, realistically, it's probably closer to 8-10. Without Light of the Pack, that'd be only 6-9 orbs per game. Are 1-2 Orbs worth a longer lasting Envenomed smoke or Vortex grenade? Probably not.

Note: If you don't run Light of the Pack in PvE, you're a disappointment your Fireteam. Running Lockdown is a viable alternative for PvP.

Exotic Weapon Recommendations

Bad JuJu - If you're a pulse rifle fan like myself, Bad JuJu makes a great choice, if not only because kills with it help charge your super faster.

Monte Carlo - Damage with this weapon will help recharge, or just instantly refresh, your melee cooldown. While not as useful as Shadow Shot, since your smoke is your second best tool, this is worth considering.

Zhalo Supercell - Not recommended for PvP, but its ability that double kills charge super energy is worth noting.

Telesto - While a very nice and interesting Fusion Rifle in its own right, the fact that multikills with it can spawn additional orbs means that you'll be an orb generating machine, with or without your super.

Tips for (and against) Nightstalkers

Watch for Hunter Debuff - If you see "Hunted" at the bottom left of your screen, we see you. You're not as sneaky or quick as you think.

Shoot Tethers - SGA: Shooting tethers kills them. But if your opponent is worthy of that bow, you'll be dead before it is.

Tether + Vortex Combo - If you see Vex or Taken coming in, shoot your bow and toss a Vortex. If you're lucky, you'll just kill the whole mob and generate a nice amount of orbs for your team.

Don't Stack Shadow Shot - I see this in the raid and nightfall a lot. Please establish an order for who's shooting their bow onto a boss, or else you're wasting super energy.

Consider Puppeteer Layout - Switch this after getting the Graviton and have no regrets. All this button layout does is switch R3 and Circle/B. Do you know what R3 does on default? "Inspects" players. That is it. Being able to Shade Step while simultaneously adjusting your aim is absolutely amazing for close quarters, and your enemy will wonder how you did that.

Envenomed Sticks - In case you missed it earlier, this melee sticks to enemies, so stick it to them. The damage it does with a stick is NOT negligible, by any means.

Be Defensive - Shadow Shot is often the only thing that can keep a Hammerbro from wiping your entire team and doing an undeserved dance on your ghosts. Without Shadow Shot, your only defense against Sunbreakers and Stormcallers is to RUN FAR AWAY. However, if you hear that terrifying clang and see a mark on your radar, shoot it. Don't save your Shadow Shot to try and hit them because a Shadow Shot will not kill a Sunbreaker or Stormcaller at full health, ever, for any reason. However, if you put it around a corner, the moment they come around and get tethered, they'll be taken out of the super and left vulnerable for you to take them down.

You Don't Have to Hit - Also known as the 'The Was My Plan All Along' clause, don't be afraid to shoot your Shadow Shot at something that's not alive. Firing a Shadow Shot through a door and into a room to tether its inhabitants is often better than shooting someone with no one around. Don't treat Shadow Shot like Golden Gun - there's far more options than just point and shoot.

Save it for When you Need It - Something I like to do is take note of the enemy team, especially their Titans and Warlocks. If I see solar or arc (respectively), don't use your super to pick up a kill. Instead, wait for them to activate their supers and then use mine to shut theirs down and pick up the kill, as oppose to getting a kill and letting them get seven later on.

Welcome Home, Stay Awhile - A user suggested this in the comments. Combine Quiver with Predator to preemptively lock down entire rooms by Shadow Shotting the entrances, tethering anyone who enters. This sounds like a wonderful combination, especially for Salvage, 

Trapper - - Another suggest, trying pairing Sealed Ahamkara Grasps with Snare and Lockdown, especially in objective playlists, to create tons of long lasting, high damage, points of denial for the enemy team.

Credits: Special thanks to KenKatastrophe for sharing his very comprehensive Nightstalker guide.