MMORPGs, powerful items (looted or not) often come with additional character requirements that must be met before they can be used. These requirements—which can include level, class, stats, fame, and even karma—prevent players from purchasing massively overpowered gear and spoiling the challenge, and as such are the bane of the Munchkin. Games with these do generally have a few rare and powerful items, which may actually be more powerful than a higher-level but more common item. The Infinity–1 Sword will almost certainly be such a weapon, although the Infinity+1 Sword is more likely to be "honest". Such items are generally denoted with odd-colored flavor text or some similar effect. A game-specific subtrope of Phlebotinum-Handling Requirements, and a form of Double Unlock unless the loot is received at the start of the game. Compare with Power Equals Rarity, Stat Sticks & You Have Researched Breathing. See also Class and Level System, An Adventurer Is You, and Infinity Plus/Minus One Sword. Note: Since this is such a common trope, please only list aversions, subversions, or interesting variants.
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- In Dungeons & Dragons Online most items have a minimum level that you must be before you can use or equip them.
- Rohan Online allows players to wear much higher level equipment but imposes stat penalties that may end up making the gear less powerful than what the player is qualified to wear.
- Vindictus has the usual class and level restrictions, and also has a set of Proficiency skills that allow you to use higher-grade gear of a particular type (e.g. battle scythes, plate armor, secondary weapons, etc.)
- Mabinogi mostly averts this, relying on price or difficulty of acquisition to keep the heavy stuff out of the wimps' hands. A lot of gear is species-specific, though.
- Also, many enchantment effects activate at a certain level, and if you rebirth they become dormant until you reach that level again. Enchantment-effect triggers can also involve age and skill rank.
- Nearly every equip in Maplestory. This can get really annoying, as you need to raise your more useless stat to wield them, as well as being a high enough level. There are ways to get around this though.
- Kingdom of Loathing has stat requirements for equipment, but in the earlier days of the game, there were no such requirements for consumables. This made it possible to skip from level 1 to level 4 immediately after a New Game+ by simply eating some of the best food in the game at the time, so it was eventually Nerfed by adding level requirements for consumables.
- World of Warcraft restricts both gear and consumables by level. Yes, this means your character needs to learn how to eat anything besides stale bread and tough jerky. Averted with specific items meant to facilitate the levelling of alts which can be handed down from a high to low level character, but even those don't give you more stats than a good level-appropriate level gear piece would because they scale with character's level and increase in stats only when you do. The upside is, you don't need to upgrade them until maximum level.
- A few items are actually unusable AFTER you reach specific levels. These are typically remnants of buff mechanics from previous expansions, such as sharpening stones, wizard oils and drums, which were discontinued in new content due to complaints about excessive grinding required to obtain them. Thus they cannot be used in content that isn't balanced around them being available.
- Some classes learn how to use a heavier armor class at level 40, locking them out of using items of said class before that point. While this isn't too bad for Warriors and Paladins since you'll barely find any plate items before that point anyway, Hunters and Shamans aren't so lucky.
- Speaking of Hunters, some beast families are effectively locked until you reach a high enough level to tame the lowest level beasts of that family, with a hard lock placed on Exotic pets (you need level 69 to learn how to tame these). Everything else needs level 10 to learn the Tame Beast skill, except for the beast hunters start out with (depending on their race).
- Final Fantasy XIV has all gear locked to certain levels in order to prevent new players from acquiring powerful equipment from their friends and using them to blow through the early parts of the game. By the end game, dungeons and raids will start imposing item level requirements as the bare minimum so that players are properly geared for the content. If your gear level average is too low, then you can't play that content until you get better gear.
- The Secret World has gear restricted by skill points invested in the relevant weapons and talismans. Higher level gear has higher skill point requirements.
Role Playing Games
- FATE and Torchlight both have a whole slew of character, stat and feat requirements for any equip you care to name, and the Legendary gear in FATE also requires a high Fame level. It's possible to remove an item and have several others unequip themselves because they were depending on its stat bonuses...and in your adventuring career this will happen at least once.
- Torchlight 2 plays with this a bit, as items can be locked by class(es) (e.g. only the Outlander and/or Engineer can use it), by level, and by stats - but the latter two are generally either/or requirements in that you either need to fulfill the minimum level or minimum stat requirements, not both. This lets builds with a touch of Crippling Overspecialization use certain items well in advance of when more evenly-spread builds would normally be able to.
- In Fable, it's possible to carry and even equip a weapon you don't have enough Physique for, but if you do so you end up dragging it laboriously along the ground and being completely ineffectual in combat.
- Freelancer has Level Locked Ships, with mightier ships capable of mounting more and better weapons, as well as having better power supplies. The Infinity Plus One Guns can only be installed on the three highest-level ships.
- Knights of the Old Republic: There aren't any level restrictions, but there are a few items that can only be used by a light- or dark-side character.
- In Phantasy Star Online the different kinds of items are restricted by different stats: armor is level-restricted, blade weapons are restricted by your attack strength, guns are restricted by your accuracy, and wands are restricted by your mental strength. Your other equipment is counted for the limit, so if you equip an item that increases your accuracy you can equip better guns than you normally could.
- Do note you only need the stats when equipping the weapon. It wasn't uncommon for players to carry around crappy weapons that gave a decent boost to a stat for the sole purpose of replacing it with a weapon they didn't have the stats for yet.
- Demon's Souls has a variant in which stats, not levels, are used to determine the ability to effectively wield weapons. It makes sense, really, since anyone could pick up a bastard sword, but not everyone will have the strength to swing it around one-handed.
- Almost all of the items in Diablo have statistic-based restrictions: melee weapons and armor require strength, bows require dexterity, and books require magic. However, rings and amulets never have restrictions, which means that a beginning character can easily be given jewelry that adds 15 or more points to all of his stats.
- In Diablo II, items do have level restrictions, and some items have strength requirements. These requirements can be slightly reduced in-game if the item has the special suffix 'of Freedom' or if it is socketed with a jewel that grants the same suffix.
- Diablo III has "reduced level requirement" as a possible random ability on some gear, making level 60 kit that you can wield at (say) level 46 that still has the stats of level 60. The gap between 46 and 60 is a lot bigger than that between 32 and 46...
- Somewhat averted in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion as weapon/spell/armor effectiveness scales with relevant Skills.
- In Summoner, ability to use weapons is dependent on whether to character has the right weapon skill (and whether it's explicitly character-restricted), but gear for everyone but Rosalind is also dependent on their Heavy Arms skill.
- Dark Souls, much like its spiritual predecessor Demon's Souls, uses stats to determine the effectiveness of weapons. Any player can equip any weapon, but if the player character doesn't have the minimum stats to properly wield it that weapon's performance will be severely penalized.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, armor and most weapons have strength requirements. Daggers and bows have dexterity requirement instead. Some equipment is also restricted to specific classes or specializations, and some personal items are restricted to specific characters (including the Player Character).
- Dragon Age II had two-stat requirements (e.g. strength and dexterity for swords and armor) but because most loot in the game scaled with the player's level, you would rarely pick up items that you couldn't use right away or within a single level-up.
- Loot in Dragon Age: Inquisition is level-locked, but crafted equipment isn't.
- In Rogue Galaxy, all weapons have a minimum character level, but by the time you can purchase a given weapon in the local shop, you will probably already be at a high enough level to use it anyway.
- Fallout: New Vegas has a slight twist on the trope: you can use weapons tiered above your skill level or strength level, but this causes a penalty to range weapons accuracynote and non-range weapon attack speed proportional to how far below the requirements you are. In both this and Fallout 3, you need to undergo the requisite training to use Power Armor, which generally doesn't occur until late in the game.
- In Path of Exile, equipment can have not only level requirements but also Strength, Dexterity, or Intelligence requirements. Yes, this means that it is possible for a character to not be smart enough to wear a pair of witch's boots (maybe the lacing is really complicated?).
- Downplayed in both the Pokémon seriesnote and Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story: In both games, shopkeepers offer high-power equipment that they, theoretically, have on hand at all times. The catch is: in the former, the shopkeepers don't offer them until you have enough badges while in the latter, you are kept out of the shop itself by a Bouncer. The downplay is the fact that this doesn't prevent you from using such items if you can get them off the street,note it just prevents you from buying them.
- Dissidia: Final Fantasy has this. All armors and weapons have a Character Level requirement. Similarly, accessories are ranked, from D to Star, the ranking indicating how many of one accessory can be equipped. For example, the player can equip but one Star-rank accessory, but two A-rank accessories, and so on. Mind, this is strictly player-only, since The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard.
- The sequel simplified the level requirements: instead of having nearly every level represented, there are now five tiers of equipment: Level 1, level 30, level 60, level 90, and level 100
Real Time Strategy
Other Video Games
- In the Borderlands games, guns, shields and (in Borderlands 2) relics have a level cap, although it's hard to find an item above your level outside of the early game if you're not in an area you're not supposed to go to yet. You can share the stuff you can't use yet with your multiplayer pals, and you can challenge them for a duel in case they find it too awesome to give it back to you.
- Dead Island has weapons that can only be used at certain levels. While it's usually only one level too high by the time you gain access to it, it's annoying to receive unusable equipment as a quest reward.
- The later Fallout games had level-locked equipment after it was revealed in the first game that, with a bit of luck, you could charge nigh-naked into the final town of the game and obtain the best armor available before doing a single quest.
- Parodied in reference to an announced Dungeon Siege film in Penny Arcade, shown here.
- Joked about in this Stolen Pixels strip.
You need a Ph.D. in Kicking Ass to slurp down a bowl of soup, and you'll need to be more than halfway to godhood before you're allowed to face the challenge and responsibility of eating pie.