Hopefully you guys have figured it out in the last couple of weeks, but I’m going to try clarifying anyways.
There’s no such thing as OP-level gear. Only gear higher level than your character that would normally be unequippable.
- Gear that says “OPX” is either
Gear that’s X levels above the current level cap. Example: A level 81 item is 1 level above 80, and is therefore shown as “OP1”. An OP5, level 74 character will be able to use level 81 gear at level 76. But the item card will say just say “OP1”, even when you hit 76 and it becomes equippable. Or
Equippable gear, at or below the cap, that’s X levels higher than your character and only equippable because your character has unlocked OPX or higher. Example: An OP2, level 74 character would see a level 75 item as “OP1”, because it couldn’t be equipped if the character hadn’t unlocked OP1.
For the most part, things behave just like they did before the patch. The only place that’s a bit odd is level 73 to 80 gear on a 72+ character who’d unlocked OP levels prior to the patch. A level 10 character with OP8 unlocked would have “OP” tooltips on level 11 to 18 gear, but I don’t think there’s any way to have legitimately unlocked OP8 at level 10.1
- Gear that’s your level or lower just states its level, because no OP levels are needed to equip it.
- Unequippable gear level 80 or lower always states its level. On an OP0 character this makes sense, because the only way to equip it is to reach that level. On an OPX character, you’ll be able to use it X levels before the stated level, but the item card won’t tell you this; you’ll have to do the math yourself.
- Equippable gear level 80 or lower that’s X levels higher than the character will show OPX to indicate it’s only equippable because you’ve reached OPX or higher.
- Any gear Y levels above 80 (the current level cap) always shows OPY. On an OP0 character this makes sense, because the only way to equip it is to reach level 80 and unlock OP level Y or higher. An OPX character, where X is higher than Y, will be able to use the item X - Y levels before level 80, but the item card won’t tell you this; you’ll have to do the math yourself.
This means that prior to hitting 80 there may be two items of different levels that both say “OPX” if 80 + Y equals character level + X. This only affects you if you’ve got items over level 80 from other characters and unlocked OP levels on the current character prior to the patch. Example: A level 78, OP5 character has a level 81 item gifted from another character, and has a level 79 item that dropped normally. The 79 item is only usable because the character is OP1 or higher, so it shows up as “OP1”. The 81 item is usable because the character is OP3 or higher, but because the item is over 80, it shows up as “OP1” instead of “OP3”.
Personally, I think it would be better if item cards just said “Level Requirement: A (B)”, where A is the item level and B is A - X (the level you can equip it). The parenthetical could go away for OP0 characters, and, if it’s over 80 and you don’t have the OP level to equip it at 80, it could change to “+C OP Levels” or something, where C is A - (80 + X) (the difference between the item level and the maximum level you can equip).
1 I have been wishing the game would allow us to unlock OP levels before level cap. Maybe you could unlock OP1 any time, OP2 at level 10, OPX at level 10(X-1), OP8 at 70, then OP9 and OP10 require 80. Then let enemies scale to player level even in NVHM and you could set your own difficulty to a degree.
Base Game Behavior
Gear has a level. You have a level. Before Digistruct Peak, if the gear’s level was higher than your level, you couldn’t equip it. If the gear’s level was equal to or lower than yours, you could. The maximum gear level was 50, 61, or 72, equal to the maximum character level of whatever patch you had installed. Simple.
Original OP Level Behavior
With Digistruct Peak, the maximum gear level went up to 80. A level 72 player can’t normally equip level 80 gear. But each time you increase your OP level, you increase the maximum gear level you can equip by 1. Unlocking OP8 means you can equip gear that’s up to 8 level higher than you. 8 levels above 72 is 80, meaning you can equip any droppable gear. Yay!
Instead of having gear that says “Level 75”, but is equippable at OP3, they set up the item cards so anything 73 or higher showed “OPX”, where X is how many levels above 72 the item was. Because you couldn’t unlock OP levels until you’d hit the cap, an OP3 item was always level 75, or three levels over the cap.
Not sure what would have happened in the old game if you’d somehow unlocked OP8 at level 10, but my guess is you wouldn’t have been able to use level 80 gear until you actually hit 72.
OP Levels After Commander Lilith turned psycho and tried to murder Athena
Then the new DLC came out, increasing the maximum player level to 80, and the maximum gear level to 90. To avoid nerfing or breaking characters, any previously-gained OP levels are still present and unlocked. So my level 72 siren who had unlocked OP2 before the patch can use gear up to level 74, just like she could before.
The difference is that any character can simply reach level 74 and use the gear directly without use of OP levels. So the item card was designed to show the standard “level / op level” text if the item is below the character level or too high to equip, but show the OP level required to equip it at the character’s current level if it’s equippable.
Nothing actually changed here, except making it obvious that “OP levels” were really just gear levels above 72.
So if you’re level 75 and an “OP1” item drops, it’s just a level 76 weapon that’s equippable because you’d previously unlocked OP1 or higher. A level 75 character who’d never unlocked OP1 would just see the item as “level 76”.
80 and Below Gear
Here’s a level 74 Bone of the Ancients as seen by a level 21 gunzerker. He’s never unlocked OP levels, so the only way he’ll ever use it is to reach level 74.
Here’s the same Bone on my level 80 siren. She’s over level 74, so she can equip it.
So far, nothing’s weird. But now, we see the same Bone on my level 72 siren who’s previously unlocked OP2. It’s level 74, but equippable because she’s OP2. So it says “OP2” to indicate this fact. If she levels to 73, it will be equippable because she’s unlocked OP1, so it will read “OP1”. If she hits 74, OP level will be irrelevant, so it will just revert to saying “level 74”.
81 and Above Gear
Here I have a level 82 Hellfire on my level 80 siren. Because it’s two levels over the cap, it shows up as “OP2”.
Here’s the same Hellfire, but on my level 29 mechromancer. She can’t equip until she hits 80 and unlocks OP2, so it shows up as “OP2”.
Neither of those is particularly surprising. But what about 81+ gear that’s equippable by someone under the cap? Here’s an 80 Bee and an 81 relic as seen by an OP2 level 80 siren. They show as 80 and OP1, as expected.
Now we look at the same gear from the perspective of a level 79, OP2 siren. As expected, the level 80 Bee shows up as “OP1” because it’s only equippable after I unlocked OP1. The relic is equippable because I unlocked OP2, but it shows as “OP1” because it’s 1 level over the current cap. So being over the level cap trumps being equippable due to OP levels.
If your game randomly glitches and allows you to unlock OP levels before 72, the tooltips will correctly show OP requirements for any equippable gear above your level. This level 38 Easy Mode showed up as “OP9” on my level 29 mechromancer after the game randomly glitched her to OP10 for a few minutes.