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Sometimes while playing Borderlands, I find a big red chest and then realize that the weapons are like +2 or +3 higher level than I am. I can't even play with those items until I level up.

Is it normal that the loots are uber-leveled like this?

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It is normal for items above your level to drop when you are playing in a zone higher than your level (maybe you went straight through all the Story Missions without exploring and doing side missions, for example), or in co-op mode where the host is at a mission level (and therefore zone) higher than your level.

Enemy and item levels are based on the zone in Borderlands 2, kind of like most MMORPGs.

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Note: Scaling changes some during subsequent playthroughs. See gaming.stackexchange.com/a/86395/1134 for more details on level scaling. –  Mufasa Jan 22 '13 at 14:51

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