How to complete Destiny 2 Excision, even on Grandmaster

Destiny 2 Excision mission
(Image credit: Bungie)

The Destiny 2 Excision mission is the climactic, 12-player finale to The Final Shape and you can complete it on Grandmaster too. While the regular version of Excision offers you a chance of getting Pale Heart gear and even some Exotics, the Grandmaster version is unique challenge in Destiny 2 that can get you more Ergo Sum rolls and the exclusive Exotic Catalyst for the sword. It's well worth doing at least once just for that, so here's how the Excision activity in Destiny 2 works and here are some tips for the Grandmaster version.

How to complete Excision in Destiny 2

Destiny 2 Excision mission Witness boss fight

(Image credit: Bungie)

The Excision activity isn't really that complicated, but since you'll be matched with up to 11 other Guardians and many other allies, there's a lot going on that can make it confusing. The below steps are also exactly the same on Grandmaster difficulty. Here’s how it works:

  1. Capture four Darkness plates in the first area. Your team needs to stand on each of these plates until they're captured to claim the territory and unlock the doorway on top of the hill.
  2. Run through the triangular doorway to reach the Witness in the next area.
  3. Kill the two Destiny 2 Tormentors called "Cornerstone of the Witness".  
  4. Gather Light from fissures and deposit it at the veiled statue. Interact with the Fissures of Light that appear throughout the area to get the 'Light Undying' buff, then run to the veiled statue near where you entered the area to deposit it. Once enough Light has been deposited, you can proceed.
  5. Follow the 'Embrace the Darkness' prompt. Only one person needs to hold the button to teleport all players to the next area.
  6. Grab a sword and slash the veiled statues. When all the statues have been destroyed, everyone will be teleported back the Witness.
  7. Jump onto the floating rock and shoot the glowing circles on the Witness's body. This will eventually open a glowing hole in the Witness's chest.
  8. Shoot the Witness's chest to deal damage. Make sure you observe its hand gestures and avoid its blasts. When it slams its hand down on the plate, don't get squished and jump off the rock as that's the end of the damage phase.
  9. Repeat steps 3-7 two more times until you reach the final stand notch in the Witness's health bar.
  10. Follow the 'Call to Ghost' prompt and unmake the Witness. This is a heavily scripted moment so there's no chance of failure here.

With that done, you'll get some Pale Heart loot as a reward and maybe even an Exotic! If this is your first time completing Excision, you'll then see a series of cutscenes to close out Destiny 2 The Final Shape and you'll unlock Grandmaster difficulty for exclusive rewards. There's also a weekly Excision completion challenge that awards Pinnacle gear and one level of Ghost Reputation.

Destiny 2 Grandmaster Excision tips

Destiny 2 The Final Shape Excision mission on Grandmaster difficulty

(Image credit: Bungie)

Grandmaster difficulty for Excision keeps the mission's structure exactly the same but there are a few key differences. It's obviously significantly harder at 2020 Power, Champions of all types are almost everywhere, there are no allies to help aside from Saint-14 in the second area, lives are limited, and the Extinguish modifier is active. However, Grandmaster definitely isn’t as hard as it sounds so long as you're cautious and sensible – I completed it with a full team of randoms found through the in-game Fireteam Finder! With all that in mind, here are some tips for getting through Grandmaster Excision:

  • Communication is key. As with any high-difficulty activity in Destiny 2, coordinating with your teammates is crucial, so it's best to talk to them with a microphone or use the in-game text chat at the very least.
  • Stick together! Don't split up to try and complete multiple objectives at once as this will result in unnecessary deaths and difficult revives. Equally, don't literally stick together in big clusters.
  • Bring anti-Champion weapon mods. For the love of the Traveler, DO NOT forget to activate some of these mods on your Artifact and bring the right weapons. Barrier, Overload, and Unstoppable Champions all appear in this mission.
  • Focus on the Champions at first to build lives. When starting Excision there will be lots of Champions that can quickly overwhelm your team. Kill them early to gain lives before focusing on the objectives.
  • Stay away from Tormentors as much as possible. They can easily one-shot multiple Guardians when they dive, so distance is key. That also means precision weapons are essential for dealing with their limited weak points.
  • Use Saint-14's Ward of Dawn as often as you need. It's completely indestructible, and walking into it provides the Weapons of Light damage buff.
  • Shoot the glowing orange bands on the Witness arms to destroy them temporarily. In the second area, you'll see Witness arms appear, sending out various attacks that can be quite dangerous. Destroy them as soon as you spot them.
  • All players are revived once you reach the 'Embrace the Darkness' step. If you're out of lives and can't revive some teammates, don't worry as they'll automatically get revived to destroy statues and battle the Witness, but you still need to kill Champions to get more lives after.
  • The third phase against the Witness lasts indefinitely, so there's no reason to do anything in the first and second damage phases. For the first and second damage phases, jump onto the floating rock to start the fight, then immediately jump off and stay safe to preserve lives and ammo. When you do get to the third phase, you can fire everything at the Witness until you reach its final stand without worrying about a timer.

Destiny 2 Grandmaster Excision rewards

Destiny 2 Excision mission Grandmaster rewards Ergo Sum catalyst

(Image credit: Bungie)

For overcoming such a challenge, Grandmaster Excision provides some useful, high-value rewards that'll help you upgrade your gear and increase your Power level. Here's what you can get from completing the activity:

  • Destiny 2 Ergo Sum Exotic Catalyst (guaranteed drop for first Grandmaster Excision completion)
  • Ergo Sum roll (guaranteed drop)
  • Ascendant Shards
  • Exotic Engram
  • Pale Heart gear

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Will Sawyer
Guides Writer

Will Sawyer is a guides writer at GamesRadar+ who works with the rest of the guides team to give readers great information and advice on the best items, how to complete a particular challenge, or where to go in some of the biggest video games. Will joined the GameRadar+ team in August 2021 and has written about service titles, including Fortnite, Destiny 2, and Warzone, as well as some of the biggest releases like Halo Infinite, Elden Ring, and God of War Ragnarok.