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Baldur’s Gate 3 is one of the most massive RPGs in recent memory. Though you might have already played the game during the early access period, tons of new players, including myself, are just now checking out the game. I have already cleared the prologue multiple times (by myself and with friends) and have all the tips and tricks you need in this Baldur’s Gate 3 Escape the Nautiloid guide.
Escape the Nautiloid is your opening mission in this massive game, taking place aboard the mind-flayer ship where you awaken. It sets the stage for this Dungeons & Dragons-set game quite well, with plenty of optional choices and rewards you can obtain. Here is everything you need to know about how to master the tutorial prologue in this Baldur’s Gate 3 Escape the Nautiloid guide.
Quest Details Up Front
Before we begin, here are some quick details you should know about when it comes to the Escape the Nautiloid main story quest in Baldur’s Gate 3:
- Quest Location: Nautiloid mind flayer ship (likely in an alternate realm)
- Quest Length: 30 minutes to two hours (depending on what you do)
- Requirements: N/A
- Difficulty: 2/10 (unless you optionally fight Commander Zhalk; then 8/10)
- Rewards: General XP, some optional items (no specific quest conclusion reward)
Character Creation Tips
In addition, I should note that the Escape the Nautiloid prologue mission happens right after you finish the character creation screen. Though I won’t suggest specific races or classes for this quest and the game in general, here are some quick general tips you should know about:
- Pick whatever class and race you prefer. However, feel free to use this prologue as a testing ground. You have plenty of fights to test out spells and skills to see if a class works best for you.
- In addition, Baldur’s Gate 3 has a nasty feature of characters not looking in the game itself exactly how they look in the character creator screen. You can also use this prologue to test out new looks.
- While any class will do well in this opening segment of the game, more magical classes, such as Wizard, Warlock, Sorcerer, Cleric, and Druid, will work the best with the available party members. And some of them make it a bit easier to do some optional skill checks.
Escape the Nautiloid Brief Walkthrough
For those in a rush, here is the quick walkthrough of everything you need to do to get through the beginning of Baldur’s Gate 3 as fast as possible. I will note optional stuff as well, but you’ll need to look further below for more details on how to complete them.
- Leave your mind flayer pod and go through the next door.
- Speak with Us on the second floor using the elevator to recruit them.
- Leave this room to go on the walkway outside and encounter Lae’zel, your first official companion.
- Help Lae’zel to win the first tutorial battle.
- Continue to the next pod room.
- Head to the room east of it to clear it out of optional enemies and collect items here.
- Return to the previous room.
- Either use the rune you find or pass skill checks to save Shadowheart from the pods.
- Head into the bridge area for the final battle of the prologue
- Optional: Defeat Commander Zhalk before 15 turns are up to earn hefty experience and rewards
- Mandatory: Defeat the enemies directly in front of you and have at least one party member make it across the bridge to the transponder to connect it and complete the prologue
Step-By-Step Extended Walkthrough
For those of you who want more from this game, you’ll likely need a bit more help. The Escape the Nautiloid ship prologue offers many optional encounters and rewards. If you aren’t careful, it is easy to miss out on some valuable items and even an entire companion.
Here is the complete step-by-step extended walkthrough of this opening part of the game so you can get the most out of your time in this world.
You start the game right after the character creator and some cutscenes by waking up from a mind flayer pod. You don’t know what happened before this, and the room is empty, with no one in any pods. There is a massive mind flayer system in the middle of the room.
You can choose to examine it, but the game will make it clear that it is a dangerous machine if you pass the check. Don’t touch it, no matter what you do. If you touch it, it will explode and deal a ton of damage to your character. There is no reward waiting for you here; this is simply here to teach you how dangerous the world and traps are.
If you do touch it, thankfully, there is a healing machine nearby that you can use. When you’re ready, head into the next room and take the elevator to the second floor. Here, you will see a corpse with a brain hanging out of it that you can speak with.
This is your first proper conversation in the game and is entirely optional. If you pass an Intelligence check here, you’ll immediately learn that it is one of the followers of the mind flayer that was recently created. I suggest investigating and passing the skill check here first.
What I like to do is “save scum,” which involves saving right at the dice roll and then reloading the game if you happen to mess up the roll and fail it. This way, you are guaranteed to get it right at some point. When you investigate, you get a few more options, which include doing surgery on the brain (which will likely kill it), destroying it, or breaking it.
In general, you want to gently pry the brain from the skull if you wish to be a good person and have another companion on your side. The brain will introduce itself as Us and will join your party temporarily if you want it to. Unfortunately, they aren’t a permanent party member.
Winning Your First Fight
After you deal with Us, follow the marker on your minimap outside of the room you’re in to see a cutscene with Lae’zel. Despite her harsh personality, I recommend having her join your party, as she is one of the main companions you can play alongside this game and even romance if you like.
Fight alongside Lae’zel in your first tutorial fight. This is a relatively easy fight, as there are only a couple of mind flayer follower minions to take out. In this case, have Lae’zel be your main tank, keeping the enemies’ attention while you attack from afar (if you’re a ranged character) or up close if you’re a melee fighter.
I recommend having Us go up behind the enemies and fight them. It is a relatively fragile companion, so you don’t want it taking too much damage. After the fight and cutscene, heal up at the nearby healing pod before continuing into the next room.
How to Save Shadowheart in Baldur’s Gate 3
When you reach the next central room, quite a lot happens here. There are several pods of people and even some confused NPCs you can’t converse with. You can pick up some items here, but the main goal will be Shadowheart here.
Shadowheart is the girl in the pod on the left side of the room. This is an entirely optional activity, but don’t miss out on another main companion you can add to your party. In my opinion, she is also one of the better party members, and romance options in the game.
Two main ways exist to save Shadowheart from her fate in the pod. First, you want to interact with the console to the right of her pod. If you have high Arcana or Intelligence, you may learn more about her pod’s controls, and it will be pretty easy this way.
Magical characters with some Arcana will want to pick the fourth option to learn more about the pod. You’ll have to pass a skill check, which you should save for, and then you’ll see another option to inscribe the device. Save again until you pass the skill check here.
From here, you will have yet another Arcana option to look closer at the pod controls. Save and pass this skill check, and you will finally have the option to use your Wisdom to open up the pod. This is a final skill check and a relatively easy one to pass, but you should save just to be safe.
This will release Shadowheart, who acts a bit suspicious. Lae’zel won’t want her to join the party, but you can choose to have both remain on the team, which is highly recommended. Now, there is another option for saving Shadowheart if you aren’t a more magically-inclined class, and it requires you to head into the optional east room.
Optional Rooms and XP
Now, there is an optional room east of the pod room. I recommend you head here to take on some foes. They are just a few more of the little brain minions you have to take out, and they are the same as before. Have Lae’zel be your tank of sorts, have Us go up behind them, and you do your part.
After taking out these minions, you can scour the room for some valuable items to pair with the optional XP you just received. Now, if you cannot pass the skill checks to free Shadowheart using the console, this room is necessary for you.
There is an Eldritch Rune that you get here. Take the rune back into the pod room and use it on the console. This acts as a key and will automatically free Shadowheart from her prison. With this done, you are now ready for the final segment of the prologue. Make sure to heal up at the nearby healing pod and save the game before this first boss fight.
Core Boss Fight Explained
The crux of the Escape the Nautiloid prologue mission is to make it to the bridge and use the transponder to get off the mindflayer ship finally. However, this final room you enter is long and massive, with many enemies you’ll have to worry about.
This is your actual test of everything you have learned over the last 30 minutes to an hour and a half of the tutorial mission. The goal here is quite simple: you need to get a single party member to the other side of the long corridor bridge room to the transponder.
It doesn’t matter which character it is (except maybe Us, to be fair) so long as someone gets there and interacts with the transponder button. The only problem with this is that you have 15 turns before the ship crashes and everyone onboard the ship dies way too early.
In addition, several enemies are standing in your way that want nothing more than to stop you from getting there. It is a war between the demons of hell and the mind flayers, which is an intriguing mix. You have one mind flayer who is on your side and likely the one responsible for planting the parasite in your head.
They are occupied fighting Commander Zhalk of the demonic army, who is quite powerful and will take you a long time to defeat. He is an optional boss (more on him in a bit), so it is a great thing for some players to avoid him.
Instead, you want to focus on the few enemies that are right in front of you. They don’t have a lot of health, so if you could pick up the three party members in this tutorial section—Us, Lae’zel, and Shadowheart—or you are playing multiplayer, this should be a breeze for you.
I recommend focusing on a single foe at a time. Have everyone slash away and cast their spells on a single enemy before moving on to the next one. After you remove the few enemies here, you can have everyone run past Commander Zhalk and the mind flayer fighting one another.
While it looks like the coast is clear to the transponder button, a few more enemies will appear suitable as you are about to get to it. Whether you want to take out Commander Zhalk or not, I suggest moving up, having these enemies spawn, and taking them out to make things easier for you.
Fortunately, these enemies are pretty much copycats of the ones you defeated near the entrance to the bridge. If you were able to take those guys out, you should have no problem whatsoever taking out this group of foes.
Once you are done with them, the goal is right in front of you. All you have to do then is have a single party member run up ahead, touch the button on their turn, and you will complete the entire prologue. The cutscenes will play out, and you will wake up in the material plane with the entire world ready for you to explore.
How to Optionally Defeat Commander Zhalk
But what about those of you who want to take on the optional boss fight of Commander Zhalk? Well, this is where it gets extremely tricky. You can defeat this enemy but the problem is his massive health. He has a whopping 150 health, which is honestly higher than most boss enemies you face until you get around level six or seven.
It has several times the health of the other enemies you have faced so far. The benefit here is you have the mindflayer on your side, which will pretty much tank the enemy until it dies. And, unfortunately, depending on your luck, your tank pal will die within about five or so turns.
This effectively means you have to take out the commander foe in about six turns if you want to survive since his attacks will level your party members in one, maybe two, hits. You have to be careful, though, as if you attack him too closely in the front, he may even switch targets from the mindflayer to your party member.
Shadowheart has some ranged spells you can use so you might want to keep her at a distance. As for Lae’zel and Us, what I like to have them do is sneak up behind the boss and attack him from behind. This usually keeps him from targeting them, and sticking to the mindflayer.
As for you, if you are a melee player, then you should do the same as the others and attack from behind. But if you are a magical user—preferred in this case—then you can simply attack from afar, preferably behind and decently close enough to the transponder button.
You want to be close enough to the button where you can run and make it within a turn or two if things go badly. Unfortunately, given how powerful and much higher level the commander is, you will generally have pretty low accuracy where most of your hits will miss him. And the ones that hit will usually deal low damage.
As such, you have two main options here: keep mashing away in hopes of defeating him or using spells like Magic Missile, which are 100% accurate and deal some hefty damage. You can also heal up the mindflayer and keep him around, as he can deal upwards of 20 or so damage each turn. I was able to defeat the Commander Zhalk once, but it took about seven turns.
Worse still, if you take too long, the commander will summon two more powerful allies to help him out, but they take a couple of turns to reach you. If this part happens and you aren’t close to taking the commander out, I suggest giving up or reloading your save.
The Escape the Nautiloid prologue quest itself doesn’t give you any rewards outside of the general experience you get from doing it. This XP is usually enough that after the final cutscenes aboard the ship and you waking up on the beach, you will have enough XP to level up for the first time in the game.
Outside of that, though, any items and other rewards require you to seek them out and find them aboard the ship yourself. That said, the main reward you might want to find is the special uncommon sword that the commander has. If you can take him out, you’ll get some nice gold and an Everburn Blade sword that will do you well for a large part of the game, including all of Act 1.
Question: How to free Shadowheart in Baldur’s Gate 3 (BG3)?
Answer: You can free Shadowheart in Baldur’s Gate 3 through one of two ways. If you can pass several skill checks in a row, you can use the console by her pod to free her (I recommend saving and reloading to do it). If not that route, you can go through the east room, defeat the enemies there, and pick up the Eldritch Rune, which you can use as a key to free her.
Question: How to fix the Escape the Nautiloid bug (BG3)?
Answer: There is an Escape the Nautiloid bug in BG3 where the quest doesn’t complete after touching the transponder and reaching the mainland in coop multiplayer. Unfortunately, this bug has no true fix right now. However, you can avoid this problem entirely by having only the host of the game be the one to touch the transponder and complete the tutorial prologue.
Question: How do you defeat Commander Zhalk in BG3?
Answer: For defeating Commander Zhalk in BG3, the goal is to have the mindflayer be the tank for you. Your team wants to get behind the boss and use the best moves you have against him. Moves with high accuracy and power, such as Magic Missile, will work best here. Have the entire party focus on him and you can defeat him in under four or five turns.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Is the Next Big RPG
Baldur’s Gate 3 is an absolutely massive game, if you couldn’t tell from the prologue alone. This tutorial part of the game can take you upwards of a couple of hours, if you happen to go through every room, pick up every item, and take on every optional encounter.
I honestly recommend this, as it gives you more XP and sets you up for the rest of the game quite well. After all, you don’t want to complete the Escape the Nautiloid prologue without earning both of the necessary companions that you can get from it and everything else.
Funnily enough, you and I are only small pieces in the gigantic puddle that is the Baldur’s Gate 3 community. There are hundreds of thousands of people who have completed the Escape the Nautiloid prologue section of the game at the exact same time, making for a highly successful launch period for this game.