Awesome Level - Testing and Discussion

Disclaimer: This is not my thread I am simply bringing it over from the old forums all credit goes to @Szyslak, 7runks, @ense7en, Apple-Guy, @Scottes, logisim, s620ex1, mindray, and many others. (If your name is listed here and you have changed names please inform me so I can properly tag you.)

What is AwesomeLevel?

AwesomeLevel (AL) is an internal game variable. It’s values are numerical, and range in level from 0 - 77 (max found so far). The number itself is not an indicator of an item’s quality or rarity, but a property of the entity that generated the item. The AL comes from the chest, vendor, or enemy that generated it.

In general, chests, vendors, and enemies with a higher awesome level should produce better gear than lower AL sources over time. That doesn’t mean a chest with an AL of 14 can’t generate a better gun than a chest with an AL of 42. It just means that the AL 42 chest has a higher probability of generating a better gun. So far, this correlation is observational only. Testing and proving that relationship is one of the goals of this thread.

What does AL do?

This is the part that is least clear. We know from the editor that the game uses it in loot generation. We don’t know exactly how it affects part or weapon selection. Hopefully testing will reveal a statistical correlation between higher average rarity and higher relative awesome levels.

There is also a theory that the AL of the weapon you are holding might affect the loot generated by chests opened or enemies killed. For now, this is speculation only, and much more testing is needed. But hey, it can’t hurt right?

Awesome Level FAQs

Q. Is there any way to change the Awesome Level of a chest, enemy, or vendor?
A. Not that we’ve found, without actually editing the AL of a chest in a user created map.

Q. Does a COM with a +2 Find Rare Items affect the AwesomeLevel?
A. Not with an effect that can be measured using our current methods. (see this thread)

Vendor Awesome Levels

PT 2.5

Vanilla - All vendors tested have an AL of 29 for the Item of the Day, AL of 4 for the other weapons
DLC1, DLC2, DLC4 - same as above, with 2 exceptions:

  • The special Jakobs vendor has an AL of 28, and does not scale correctly to endgame levels
  • The vendor in the Hyperion gift shop is AL 30 for the Item of the Day

DLC3 - All vendors have an AL of 30 for the Item of the Day, AL of 5 for the other weapons, with one exception:
The vendor in Crawmerax’s Lair has an AL of 31 for the Item of the Day. This is the highest vendor AL in the game.

*still testing

*still testing, with one bit of info from 7runks:

  • PT1 Fyrestone weapon vending machine close to where you meet Dr. Zed is GS 18 AL 25

Enemy Awesome Levels

For the most part, enemies in vanilla, DLC1, 2, and 4 are AL 4. Enemies in DLC3 are AL 5. Notable enemy AL’s are listed below. If an enemy is not listed, assume that they have a normal AL for the area.

Crawmerax - AwesomeLevel 67
Badass Lance can have an AL of 5, 7, or 8
Mini Steve and Truxican Wrestler have an AL of 18
Crimson Shorty - AL 21

*section not complete. If you find an enemy with a different AL, please post.

Special note - Regardless of the AL of an enemy, if Mordecai’s Ransack skill causes a weapon to be generated, the Awesome Level of the weapon will be 69. This has been confirmed for vanilla, and all 4 DLC in PT2.5

Update: It appears that Ransack, in PTs 2 and 2.5 produces Awesome Level weapons equal to you character’s level. i.e. if you’re level 45, the AL will be 45. Still testing on PT1.

Other Items of Interest:

CoD Rewards:

Private Level reward (Gearbox Machine Pistol) - AL 50
Sergeant Level reward - AL 68
Medal of Duty reward (Gearbox class specific) - AL 77

The items TK pukes up from the Braaaaains missions are all AL 4.

The weapons dropped at the end of a round in The Underdome appear to all be AL 10.

Chest Awesome Levels


Vanilla- Most red chests are AL 14. Most white chests are AL 4.

Some chests in vanilla are harder to find or reach. These chests are often AL 42. Below is a list of the known AL 42 chests.

Fyrestone / Arid Badlands - none found
Skag Gully - Red chest hidden at the north (during the “Seed of Your Pants” mission)
Arid Hills - none found
Sledge’s Safe House - Red chest in the room unlocked by the rescued claptrap
Lost Cave - none found, 1 chest left to test
Headstone Mine -
Dahl Headlands - “X” marks the spot bandit treasure chest
New Haven -
Rust Commons West - The “Dev Chest” off the cliff in the northern part of the map
Crazy Earl’s Scrapyard -
Treacher’s Landing -
Rust Commons East -
Tetanus Warrens -
Krom’s Canyon -
Trash Coast -
Old Haven -
Salt Flats -
The Backdoor - The red chest on top of the room where you see Steele in the last room where you fight Master McCloud
Crimson Fastness - There are two red chests in the room unlocked by the rescued claptrap. The bottom chest is AL 42
Crimson Enclave -
The Descent -
Eridian Promontory - Dev chest up on the left cliff at the end is AL 42

*needs more testing
Red chests are AL 14 like vanilla
Loot Goons chests - AL 19

most red chests in DLC4 are AL 14. Most white chests are AL 4.

Some DLC4 red chests are AL42. They are listed below:

Hyperion Dump

  • Red chest on the roof of the building near the beginning (down the hill from the vendors and to the left)
  • Red chest in the NE corner, under the awning
  • Red chest in the skag pit
  • Red chest up on the catwalks where you have to hop over to the shed roof
  • Red chest on the eastern side of the map that you can only get to by jumping roof to roof (or crane to roof)

*will link to pics of these chests for clarity

Sanders Gorge

  • 2 red chests after Knoxx-trap
  • lockers after Knoxx trap appear to be mostly AL 14
  • red chest up on the platform where the bridge is lowered after you clear the mission

*will expand this section by map as more are found


Just posting what we have in the other thread at this point. DLC3 has by far the most variation of awesome levels.

T-Bone Junction:
2 white chests are AL 5
2 red chests are AL 18

Sunken Sea: (from ense7en, thanks)
*if not noted, whites are AL 5, reds are AL 18

If you take the road up toward CoD there’s the huge sign.
Hidden red chest beside sign: 54

Midget encampment area below the road on the way to CoD

Hidden Lance chest you jump to get onto in that midget area = 65
Red chest you have to jump across all the platforms to get to = 54
If you head left toward the Bullet area there’s a road you can take up & at the end is the bus over the edge with the red chest = 54
Red chest in other midget area basically in the middle of nowhere = 54

Lockdown Palace: (after it’s been cleared)

Most red chests - AL 18
White chests and lockers - AL 5
Red chest in the room claptrap unlocks - AL 54
Red chest up in the pipes - AL 54
Red chest behind door that opens on the way out - AL 54
Lance chest 1 - AL 21
Lance chest 2 - AL 65
All regular enemies, Badasses, Chaz, Shank - AL 5

Road’s End:
Lost Lewts Chests: AL 21 - lowest lance chests found
Red Chest at the top of the gondola, under the stairs - AL 54
Lance chest reachable by jumping off the cliff from the top of the gondola - AL 65
Red Chest at roadblock before the Armory: AL 54
Lance Chest w/ Crimson Shorty - AL 27
Other Lance Chest on Armory approach - 65
Final white chest right before the Armory entrance - AL 18

Inside the Armory:
White chests are either AL 5 or 18
Red Chests can be AL 18, 41 (42?), or 54
I will take pics of the AL 54 red chests
Lance chests are either AL 51 or AL 65

Lance chests that are AL 51:
Inside the wall alcoves with the moving platform - at least one AL 51 per alcove. If there are two lance chests, one is AL 51, the other is AL 65
All 5 lance chests on the top floor are AL 51
All remaining lance chests in the Armory are AL 65. 4 on the main floor, and 2 in the maze.

If you’re interested in speed runs through the Armory, and want to skip all the red chests with an AL of 18, ense7en made a kickass video opening all the chests with an AL of 42 or higher:

(Going back to stouty mode quick. I personally use this method all the time. I highly recommend it.)

*in progress

*needs testing, but likely mimics PT1

The chest section needs a lot more work, admittedly. I have more to edit in (including a lot of 7runks’s great testing), and need to organize it better. I’m also working on a spreadsheet that you can filter by playthrough and map.

Testing Results

Huge thanks to:
Scottes - for running analysis on the save files and discussing them with me
Apple-Guy - for helping me with the maps
Uzkniso - for letting me use his chest map

Part 1

The goal of this portion of the testing is to determine whether the AwesomeLevel that we can now see attached to a weapon can actually affect future loot generation. i.e. Is the loot different when you’re holding an AL 0 weapon versus an AL 65 weapon.

One of the pet theories that I and others have speculated about is that holding a high AL weapon might positively influence the loot generation mechanic, thus producing better loot from chests and enemies.

To put the chest part of that theory to the test, I ran the following scenarios:

Scenario 1:
Using a custom map filled with AL 51 lance chests, open and loot roughly 1080 of these chests during two tests. For the first test, hold a weapon from my inventory with an AL of 0. For the second test, equip a weapon from the first chest I open (AL 51), then open the rest of the chests.

Normalization Techniques Used:

  • Both tests were conducted using the same character and same save file with an empty backpack, aside from equipped items. Equipped items were discarded before analysis. This should negate any possible effects of character loot weighting, manufacturer preference, etc.
  • Both tests opened the exact same number of chests, from the same map
  • Unfortunately I left items in the bank (360) for this test, before knowing that they could not be excluded from the analysis program. As a result, the average rarity might be slightly higher than it should be, but the same increase will affect both tests equally

Scenario 2:
Using a custom map filled with AL 65 lance chests, open and loot roughly 1440 of these chests during two tests. For the first test, hold a weapon from my inventory with an AL of 0. For the second test, equip a weapon from the first chest I open (AL 65), then open the rest of the chests.

Normalization Techniques Used:

  • Both tests were conducted using the same character and same save file with an empty backpack, aside from equipped items. Equipped items were discarded before analysis. This should negate any possible effects of character loot weighting, manufacturer preference, etc.
  • Both tests were conducted over 2 game sessions, to try and better average normal “waves” of loot quality
  • For the test holding an AL 65 weapon, I tried to fill my equipped slots with roughly the same rarity weapons as the AL 0 test.
  • Both tests opened the exact same number of chests, from the same map
  • Bank Items were removed

The raw data for the backpacks is below (Thanks Scottes!)


In both scenarios, the average rarity increased slightly, but well within the possible normal variation of a test this size. Even with 5,000 items per backpack, this test was still subject to the game’s normal ebbs and flows. Still, during scenario 2, there was an increase in average rarity from 18.2 to 18.7

In both scenarios, there were more elemental weapons in the second test, and an over 20% increase in weapons with an x4 elemental multiplier. That could be a trend, but with sample sizes this small, I would hesitate to attach any significance to it.

Some of the possible trends from scenario 1 were refuted (or better normalized) during scenario 2, which was the better test, imho.

Pearls are so friggin random it’s ridiculous. You can open 1000 chests and get one crappy stalker (scenario 1, test 2) or you can get 2 jackals right next to each other (scenario 2, test 1)


Overall, in both scenarios, the numbers came back as close to each other as you can hope for in a test of this size, in a game this random. My conclusion at this point is that holding a weapon with a high awesome level does not affect loot generated by chests.

As a brilliant scientist once put it (okay, it was this morning)

Originally Posted by Scottes
Sometimes I wonder if we have to collect 50,000 weapons per run to really see a difference. But if that’s what it takes, then the difference is too slight to be meaningful during normal gameplay.
I welcome others to question my methods, scrutinize the results, suggest improvements, and draw your own conclusions.

Part 2

The goal of this part is to collect enough data to prove what most of us already suspect from observation: that higher AL chests produce better loot than lower AL chests.

Scenario 3:
Set up two custom maps (thanks Cipher), identical in every way except for the red chest definition. One map contains non-awesome chests (AL 14) and one map contains awesome chests (AL 42). Loot between 4000 and 4500 items from each map, over multiple sessions.

PT2.5, Character level 69

Normalization Techniques Used:

  • Both tests were conducted using the same character and same save file with an empty backpack, aside from equipped items. Equipped items were discarded before analysis. This should negate any possible effects of character loot weighting, manufacturer preference, etc.
  • Both tests were conducted over 3 game sessions, to try and better average normal “waves” of loot quality
  • Both tests opened the exact same number of chests (roughly 1760 chests per test)
  • Bank Items were removed

Raw backpack data:


You don’t have to dig too deep on this one. The appearance rate of dark orange, orange, and purple items is much higher when looting the AL 42 chest. The average rarity and tech level of weapons is significantly higher from the AL 42 chest. The average rarity of shields is better by about the same amount as weapons.

Another item of note is the appearance rate of Eridian weapons. The numbers are still small, but there are more than double the amount of Eridian weapons in the second test. I would consider the link between AL and Eridians to be an open question at this point.


A difference in average rarity of 2% can be written off as inherent randomness. A difference of 71% - 78% cannot. Only 2 dark orange weapons from the AL 14 chest vs 58 from the AL 42 chest is also a pretty dramatic difference. The AL 42 chest obviously produces significantly better loot than the AL 14.

The big question is why? And is the game’s calculated value for AL part of what determines the weapon generated? Or is it just a programming artifact that strongly correlates with loot rarity? Either way, I think it’s safe to say that investing your time looting things with a higher relative AL will yield better results and better loot over time.

TL;DR Part 1 - Holding a high AL weapon does nothing noticeable to loot generation
TL;DR Part 2 - Looting high AL chests (awesome) vs low AL chests (non-awesome) will produce better results


If you have any further contributions since this thread was made(2011) or suggested edits please feel free to comment them below.

This community is awesome because of people like You. It’s almost 7 years and counting.

Thank You.

1 Like

Quick question. In regular game play this should really only affect me chest farming spots? Read the whole thread but its a lot to take in.

Not just chests; enemies too. Most enemies have a low AL, but there are exceptions and those enemies are worth seeking out. Chests with low AL (white chests and most reds) are not worth specifically farming either; stick with Lance chests and the higher level red chests.

Also worth special notice is the bit re: Ransack - it’s a great way to get great loot if you can keep it active. Dead Haven (DLC1) and Rust Commons West (spiderants) are some notable spots for continuous ransacking.


love this thread. took me a while to read it. this brings back some old school thoughts i contemplated way back when…

does what your holding contribute. awesome level of loot source playing a factor in gear/weapon generated. i have always wondered. good stuff! :acmaffirmative:

Does AL affect the chance of pearls or not
Would love to know even tho this is an old thread

We really don’t have an answer to that, since the sources for pearls are few (badass lance, lance chests, Craw). To know for sure, someone would need to:

  • test a bunch of lance chests with difference AL, with some huge number of runs so that enough pearls are found from both that the numbers are meaningful
  • include/compare Craw and/or badass lance, making sure to keep track of the total amount of loot so there is some way to standardize the finds.

Either way would be a huge (HUGE!) amount of work, simply because of how rare pearls are and how large a sample set you need.

Thanks for a response and I guess well really never know for sure :sob:

Given how everything else in the game works, we can make an educated guess that a higher AL does result in more pearls. Higher AL = better/rarer parts with all other weapon/item types (e.g. more legendary-defining parts, and better parts overall).

My working assumption is that the pearl-defining parts (Aries accessory, Jackal barrel, etc) are in the same pool as all the other parts, but simply have a lower probability of being rolled…and thus they still have a better chance at AL 67 (craw) than AL 7-ish (badass lance). But, this is not supported by data…just speculation. The fact that each lance enemy type drops a different set of pearls makes me wonder if the whole thing isn’t scripted more precisely.

Interesting, maybe you could farm for pearls from the badass lance faster than craw with the ransack skill and a nice pestilent defiler

Pretty sure Ransack has its own loot pool…

1 Like

ok thank you it was just an idea

Sorry, I don’t mean to cruelly burst your bubble! And I could be wrong about that…give it a day and maybe some of the other old timers will confirm or deny my recollection!

I mean, I don’t know how it works or what the pool is like, but I’ve heard that Ransack has its own loot pool before.

thanks for your help