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I started Playthrough 2 at Level 36. I went to Jakobs Cove ('The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned' DLC) and found out that the enemies are at least level 42. I couldn't even get to the first objective without being eaten by zombies. I had to level up a bit to finish that DLC's first mission.

After I finished the main questline of 'The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned' at level 46, I then went to T-Bone Junction ('The Secret Armory of General Knoxx' DLC) only to be jumped by assassins that are level 51, in the first mission. They deal enough damage to deplete my shields and health in at most 2 melee hits.

Like this question for Borderlands 2, is there a recommended level for starting the Borderlands 1 DLCs? Will I encounter enemies that are too hard if I go early, or too easy if I go late? What about weapon proficiency? Are there also recommended weapon proficiency levels for the weapon types that I'm gonna use in the DLCs?

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I don't know about Weapon Proficiencies but I am pretty sure they were never really that important.

According to this, Claptrap and Knoxx start at level 35 for PT1 which shows that they are post-game DLC. You technically should have done them in Playthrough 1 after you beat the main story then moved onto Playthrough 2 from there.

Because they are post game DLC's you are supposed to hold off on attempting them in Playthrough 2 until after you finish Playthrough 2/hit Level 50. They will always be 5 levels ahead of you until you hit level 50. Then they will scale with you from there.

Zombie Island and Underdome are both mid-game DLC and are probably low-mid 40's. But when you hit level 50 they will scale up with you as well.

So:

  • The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned - levels 42-50+
  • The Secret Armory of General Knoxx - Level 50+
  • Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot - Levels 42-50+
  • Claptrap's New Robot Revolution - Level 50+

Weapon Proficienies are just a bonus. Not really important.

  • They really were pretty important by playthrough 2, they gave pretty significant bonuses to certain stats by level 50. It unfortunately really punished you for using a weapon you already rarely use – Ben Brocka Jun 23 '13 at 15:50
  • However, if you rarely use a weapon, the proficiency bonus won't really help you :-) If you DO use a weapon "a lot", chances are that your proficiency isn't all that bad either. In addition, it's rather trivial to raise proficiencies in PT 2.5 -- I usually killed Bleeder for that: kill 4 crapworms (or ignore them), hop onto the pipe, kill him. Rinse and repeat. At lvl 69, this will raise proficiencies nicely. Only the killing blow has to come from the weapon that you want to raise. – Christian Stieber Jun 23 '13 at 18:26
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In play-through 1, you need to be at at least the following levels:

The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned-Level 10-12, Weapon Proficiencies should include high level SMGs, Snipers, and Rocket Launchers (preferably 8-10, to be safe). Also, if you have Incendiary or Explosive weapons, it helps, and towards the end of the DLC, make sure to bring a Corrosive weapon to deal with Dr. Ned.

Mad Moxxi's Underdone Riot-Level 15+, Weapon proficiencies should be as high as possible for all weapons, buy as many Storage Deck Upgrades as possible to give you additional ammo, and make sure to bring along as many Healing Kits (Greater Healing Kits, if possible) as possible (a 42-space Backpack, achieved by repairing all broken Claptraps doesn't hurt either) If you prefer doing a solo Underdome, then I would suggest either Brick or Roland. Personally, I prefer co-op, as the waves of enemies gets pretty insane pretty fast. If you go this route, Brick and Roland make an awesome team.

The Secret Armory of General Knoxx-Level 36+, Weapon Proficiencies should include high level Shotguns, SMGs, Combat Rifles and Rocket Launchers (At least 18-20), and if the guns can deal Corrosive Damage, that will make your life much easier as the majority of the enemies are metal-based and corrode easily.

Claptrap's New Robot Revolution-Level 10-13, Weapon proficiencies should include level 8 (at least) SMGs, Combat Rifles, Rocket Launchers, and Shotguns. If you can, then the use of Explosive and Corrosive weapons work best in this area.

As for play-through 2, I have not yet started a 2nd play-through on the first Borderlands, but will update my answer as soon as I do.

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