Reading the boards it seems that most people are having fun on the TVHM and UVHM. Did people just do all the story missions in Normal mode, to get to the TVHM quicker?
I am still playing NVHM, but in order to get what seems to be the more fun part of multi-player should I just skip the side missions and plan to do them in TVHM/UVHM?
I am correct in thinking it goes like this NVHM > TVHM > UVHM, meaning 3 play throughs? since the side quests are fun, I was thinking it might be better to explore them once I got to UVHM. or would I be too weak since I didn't level as much?
Well ideally if you are starting from lvl 1 you want to do all side missions in Norma mode for the exp. then in tvhm it was advised to wait till lvl 50 before accepting side quests so the rewards would scale to lvl 50, eg flame of the firehawk shield, rubi, etc. however now with UVHM i guess you don't have to save them, but the higher lvl gear would be more beneficial to you in UVHM. Then when you start UVHM again I would hold off on side quests till lvl 61 so it will scale to that level.
I always do a majority of the side quests in NVHM as enemies in TVHM start around level 35 IIRC. Most of the vets would suggest to save quests with blue or higher rewards until you beat TVHM so you can gear up with some of the red text weapons. Also UVHM can be pretty challenging without proper gear and a way to constantly keep enemies slagged.
If you skip them in normal, you will likely find yourself under leveled for story missions and then for TVHM afterwards. This can be remedied by grinding xp in areas you enjoyed, or farming bosses as soon as they have been defeated.
Not all side missions are necessary, but some of the bigger xp reward ones can really help keep you at full capacity for challenging story missions. I would just do them when you notice the story missions at hand becoming a little higher than your current level.
UVHM is nice, because it actively scales with you. So you can do only story, then grind to 61, and then pick up side missions you want to do.
For achievement purposes, normal mode is the easiest way to knock out your side missions. Doing them all on Normal can also help you get a feel for which rewards you would like to go for at 61.
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