It's common for fans of the Baldur's Gate series to recommend new players to jump straight to Baldur's Gate 2. One reason for this is that Baldur's Gate 2 has some amazing quests that are available from the beginning, while Baldur's Gate has a much slower start. A big reason for choosing Baldur's Gate 2 first is because the early hours of Baldur's Gate can be extremely frustrating, with the Nashkel Mines being one of the worst dungeons in video game history.

In Baldur's Gate, the player needs to complete a quest involving the town of Nashkel, as the local mines have been taken over by monsters. The game gives the player a lot of hints that they need to complete this quest as soon as possible, with some party members even leaving the group of it isn't finished on time. As such, the low-level party must descend into the mines, in what is likely their first dungeon in the game.

Related: Go On An Epic Quest For Baldur's Gate 3 By Reading The End User License Agreement

Kobolds In The Fog

Unlike Baldur's Gate 3, which uses the current edition rules for D&D, Baldur's Gate used the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (also known as second edition) rules for the game. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was notoriously more deadly than later versions of the game. From the third edition onward, D&D gave all player characters maximum HP at level one, just to give them that little extra edge in survivability. Later editions also made "Death's Door" options available, allowing characters to hold on for a few more rounds after being knocked below zero hit points. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons wasn't so forgiving, which meant that many player characters could easily die after a single hit.

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Baldur's Gate was Advanced Dungeons & Dragons through and through, which meant that it was incredibly deadly toward party members during the opening hours of the games. Chances are, the player would tackle the Nashkel Mines at around level one or two, as the game keeps prompting them to hurry up and finish the dungeon.

The Nashkel Mines are filled with tight corridors that are covered in the fog of war, which is only peeled away whenever the player gets close. The mines have been taken over by Kobolds, many of which use bows as weapons. If a character enters the sight of a kobold, then the arrows will start flying.

All of these factors combined turn the Nashkel Mines into a game of save-scumming. All it takes is a single errant arrow to instantly kill the mages and thieves of the groups, and the characters are far too low level to cast Raise Dead spells. This means that many encounters depend on luck, as the player hopes they can deal with the Kobolds before the dice turn on them and an arrow kills a party member.

This wouldn't be as much of an issue if it only happened one time, but the Nashkel Mines are filled with these tiny groups of Kobolds who use guerilla tactics to snipe the party to death. The dungeon turns into a battle of attrition, as the player slowly clears out each room of Kobolds with the help of quicksaves. There is little fun to be had defeating these Kobolds and it's a miracle anyone bothered to keep going through the rest of the game.

Oozes, Traps, & Mulahey

Baldur's Gate 1 Mulahey's Cavern

The second issue with the Nashkel Mines is the traps, in that they're everywhere. A good thief like Imoen should be able to detect most of them, but their abundance means that the party will constantly be taking damage. The best way to avoid them is by constantly save-scumming, but this grinds the pace of the dungeon down even further. If the Kobolds weren't bad enough, the player also has to contend with Gray Oozes in the Nashkel Mines, which are immune to pretty much everything the player can throw at them at this point.

The final encounter of the Nashkel Mines is against an evil cleric named Muhaney and a group of Kobolds and skeletons, where the party is outnumbered. This battle can be tricky if the party isn't prepared for it, but a Cleric with Turn Undead can make all of the difference during this encounter. Once Muhaney is dealt with, the player can loot some decent gear (including an awesome ring for any Clerics in the group) and the main character will start developing their Bhaalspawn powers. The story kicks into high gear and the player can move on to better things, leaving the nightmare of the Nashkel Mines behind them.

There are some later dungeons in Baldur's Gate that have more obnoxious traps than the Nashkel Mines, but the player is better equipped to deal with them. Throwing such a frustrating dungeon at the player at a time when their group is at its weakest was a terrible design choice, and it's a good reason to just skip the game altogether and go straight into the masterpiece that is Baldur's Gate 2.

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