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In New Game Plus, the Hossean Wastes are rated levels 63-64. When you're done with that you can do the dungeon, the Forsaken Vaults, rated levels 64-66. I've just completed this area and I'm level 66 myself, without having skipped any (obvious) sidequest. Things seem going just as pllanned, right?

Well, the next area in the plot is the Empty Quarter - level 68. This is the first time in the game I find myself underleveled for what needs to happen next. The Empty Quarter is actually a very short area, leading to The Undercurrents (level 68-69) for a sidequest or the Salt Barrens (level 68-69) for the main plot.

Am I "supposed" to do some mapworking before I head into the new area underleveled? Am I maybe missing something obvious here? Or should I just start to getting used to being underleveled as I go forward?

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Are you fully exploring the map area as you progress? If not, I recommend uncovering every bit of map available. Doing that, I have found myself at the target levels at every spot so far (though I'm only at the end of Act I in NG+). – Jonah Bishop Oct 17 '12 at 18:58
@JonahBishop Yes, I have - always. Actually in the main game I've gone over some areas multiple times as I replayed some areas in multiplayer (my one person on the friend list hasn't reached NG+ yet) – badp Oct 17 '12 at 19:02
@badp what difficulty are you playing on? Playing Veteran, and I am typically a level or two behind the areas (in fact, I have fallen further behind and probably need to re-roll my world as of act 3). I don't fully clear everything but I do all side quests and explore all side dungeons. – peacedog Oct 17 '12 at 19:06
@peacedog I'm on Normal. – badp Oct 17 '12 at 19:18
I can't answer whether being underleveled is normal or not, but as an Outlander (HCE) who explores every last inch of an area before moving on, I still end up slightly underleveled by half to a full level. However don't worry about it to much - the farther ahead monsters are in level, the faster you gain XP, so the gap will close quickly. I would recommend just proceeding carefully through the overworld where you have plenty of room to run, and don't enter dungeons until you are within a half level of the minimum requirement. – jw013 Jan 30 '13 at 19:52

I think this might be a by-product of the randomness of the generated maps. Last night, I reached the Empty Quarter with my first hardcore character (playing on Normal difficulty), and found myself about 2 levels under what was recommended. I know for certain that I explored every area of each prior map, that I completed all side quests, and that I killed all discovered enemies.

My guess is that the maps that were generated for my character either (a) covered less area, resulting in fewer enemies, or (b) had fewer enemies spawn altogether. I've played through the game with 6 or 7 other characters, and have always either been right at the suggested level, or a level or two higher than suggested. Being a level or two lower seems like a good balance to that randomness.

I should also mention that eventually (at NG+3), the world stacks against you from the get-go. In NG+3, monsters start at level 100 (which happens to be the player's level cap), and get stronger as you go on. I have yet to make it that far (I find that rolling new characters is just too much fun).

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