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The opposite of The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, the Noob Cave is the first place where players actually begin Dungeon Crawling.

Will always have the easiest enemies to fight (that is, if there are any), with the toughest thing being a King Mook, itself being more comparable to a lesser knight, anyways. Chances are it's the Warmup Boss. Some games have you start out unarmed, and expect you to find a weapon while exploring the Noob Cave.

Frequently, particularly in MMORPGs, the Noob Cave will either force you to leave or not let you return (You Can't Go Home Again). The idea is to prevent a single advanced player from rapidly killing all the Mooks before the newbies can get to them... or getting owned by other players, although PvP is normally off if any player can get to this area. Alternatively, the game may simply make it not worth staying in the area through better drops and/or monsters that don't give experience after a certain point.

May surprise (read: frustrate) players by being involved in the Infinity+1 Sword or being the entrance to the Bonus Dungeon. The designers obviously thought it clever to put the hardest challenge here, Where It All Began.

Keep an eye out for tutorials. If you didn't get any before going in, you'll find one here, whether you like it or not.

Beware: when you want to go home, home may not be there

Examples of Noob Cave include:


Action Adventure

  • Many Zelda games begin the adventure proper in a sort of Noob Cave. Sometimes it's an actual cave, other times it's a forest, or a building. On at least one occasion it was a tree...
    • The Legend of Zelda Oracle Games had the ridiculously easy "Hero's Cave" where you find the sword. It was transformed into a Bonus Dungeon if Oracle of Ages is beaten first.
    • In Ages, the Maku Path serves this purpose two times in a row. In the present, it's a straight line with a few press-switch-to-open-door puzzles. When you go to the past, you're introduced to the slightly more complicated collect-a-key-to-open-a-door-in-another-room puzzles.
    • The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time has the Kokiri training grounds where you get your first sword. Helpful signs show you how to pick up rocks, climb through small holes, control the camera, and avoid rolling boulders.
    • The sequel, The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask, starts out with Link underground and stuck in the form of a Deku Scrub. Your new fairy, Tatl, teaches you the basics by bossing you around (faeries are too small to open doors on their own). Later you get to navigate the canals to the observatory, which is a more formal and dangerous starter dungeon.
    • The Legend of Zelda a Link To T He Past has Hyrule Castle, crawling with guards, simple puzzles, and a ball-and-chain-wielding mini-boss. You get your sword as soon as you enter, and you can find the boomerang on your way out.
    • The summit of Outset Island in The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker, or if that doesn't count, the shockingly difficult navigation around the Forsaken Fortress without your weapon until the end where you fight a Boblokin as a "warmup boss". Your journey here when you have the Master Sword is actually much easier.
    • Painfully averted in The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess, as the first proper adventure, the sewers underneath the castle, has dangerous enemies that are capable of damaging Wolf Link in the water, where he cannot fight back. Having only three hearts at this point makes it seriously one of the most difficult places in the game.
    • The waterfall cave in The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword.
  • The First Cave in Cave Story is where you go and find your first weapon. And where you can get the best weapon in the game, if you held on to it.
  • The River of Heavens in Okami.


Adventure Game

  • The Beginner's Cave in the old Apple II Eamon computer game.


First Person Shooter

  • Metroid Prime starts in a derelict spaceship before moving on to the planet Tallon IV. Thanks to your partially complete equipment (which you lose on your way out), it's the easiest level in the game.
  • Almost all the first levels in each campaign in Left 4 Dead. Tanks never seem to usually don't appear in the first levels and witches are never there either, allowing new players to get a feel for the game. And they better learn quickly since the second level will start ramping up the challenges.
  • Doom-engine games usually have a very simple first level, with a name that evokes feelings of having just arrived: Doom E 1 M 1 is 'Hangar', Doom II MAP 01 is 'Entryway', Heretic E 1 M 1 is 'The Docks'...


Third Person Shooter

  • The Casual multiplayer mode in Gears of War 3, which is basically straight-up team deathmatch catered to new players of the series. To that end any player that has an achievement from either the 2 previous games or the third game's beta is not allowed in.


Hack And Slash

  • Diablo II's very first mission is to clear out a cave of zombies because they might attack the Rogue Encampment. Emphasis on might because the cave is full of low-level zombies and the weaksauce wannabe-giants that get killed with one hit once you reach level three, and then you meet up with a single rogue laying waste to twenty or so of them on top of evil amazon-chick reincarnated-and-then-re-killed-by-the-sentry corpses in the Cold Plains in the very next mission. Oh, and said sentry is just the guard to keep the difficult monsters from chasing you into the non-noob part of the first act. Yeah, way to spread your resources, Akara. Totally a Chessmaster when it comes to defending your peeps. *headdesk*
  • Dynasty Warriors usually has the Yellow Turbans Rebellion (a catch-all stage representing the year-long conflict) be the first battle that the players take on; very few starting officers fight a different army for the first battle (if it's not them, it's usually Dong Zhuo, who has Lu Bu).
    • One notable exception is the Jin kingdom in 7, as their story starts over fifty years after the Yellow Turbans Rebellion.


MMORPGs

  • The Trope Namer is Noob Cave, found on Mt. Noob in Kingdom of Loathing. Once it contained only noncombats which could not damage you, but has since been revamped and now contains only combats... the only enemy being a crate, which also can't damage you.

  The crate sits motionless, much as you'd expect.

    • It's immediately followed by another, slightly more dangerous area called The Dire Warren, which is filled with fluffy bunnies. You can lose a fight here, but only if you're really bad at the game.
  • Pre-Searing Ascalon from Guild Wars is mostly a tutorial level, and not an actual cave. The Catacombs are the first actual dungeon most players explore. Factions and Nightfall also feature similar areas.
    • The Catacombs go on to become the first dungeon in Guild Wars 2, albeit with the difficulty ramped a little higher.
  • In The Lord of the Rings Online, for hobbits and men, the instance of Archet before its assault is the Noob Cave. The gate you would normally use to leave the area is closed. Once you get to the main game, Archet is still accessible, but it's permanently changed by the events of the Noob Cave. Thorin's Gate serves the same purpose for Elves and Dwarves, and it's similarly closed off from the rest of the world until you finish the introductory quests, but still accessible afterwards.
  • Numerous places in World of Warcraft. Northshire Abbey for humans, Coldridge Valley for dwarves, Shadowglen for night elves, Valley of Trials for orcs, Red Cloud Mesa for tauren, Deathknell for undead, Ammen Vale for draenei, Sunstrider Isle for blood elves, and the Scarlet Enclave for death knights of all races. Other than Scarlet Enclave they can be revisited at higher levels (you can revisit the Enclave too, but the place has an advancing plotline and will be stuck in finished state with nothing else to do). Cataclysm expansion will also add starting zones for goblins and worgen and both of them will use the same plotline mechanism as the Enclave for their quests.
    • As of Cataclysm, gnomes now start in a low-level, secured section of Gnomeregan, and trolls start off on the Echo Isles.
    • The Deadmines and Ragefire Chasm, often being the first instanced dungeons players encounter, are probably more literal Noob Caves. Ragefire Chasm is even placed right in the middle of orc's capital city for easy access (humans get a slightly higher-level dungeon in their capital).
    • Most of the starter zones mentioned above also have some sort of actual cave used for 1-2 quests (Forsaken have a mine, Dwarves/gnomes have a troll lair, for example. In a slight literality inversion blood elves get a tower and draenei a mountain valley.)
  • Newton Caverns from Lusternia, home to the eminently disposable Gnome and Fink races. Most things die in one hit, and people above level 21 are forcibly kicked out.
  • Henesys Hunting Ground in Maple Story, where all noobs generally congregate for several levels after reaching Victoria Island, and where pros occasionally show off their skills and maximum damage in a bid for fame points from them.
    • There's also Maple Island, the noob world that all explorers start in.
  • The City of Heroes tutorial level, Outbreak, where the Player Character is taught how to use their powers and fights drug-crazed thugs and help find a cure for them.
    • The City of Villains tutorial, on the other hand, is Breakout, where the evil organisation is breaking you out of prison.
    • Later on, all players get access to a mission to return to their tutorial- at the original level they were when playing through it, via Time Travel. This is especially handy for getting an otherwise Lost Forever badge.
  • DC Universe Online has the Brainiac Ship. Somewhat annoying since it is unskippable, you have to do it for every character, hero or villain, and the only variation is heroes and villains get a different Voice with an Internet Connection.
  • The Korthos Island instances from Dungeons and Dragons Online, which have you battling evil sahuagin and their Devourer cult.
    • In particular is the first dungeon and the area before it, where you meet up with a group of adventurers that give you items and buffs, including one that prevents you from dying. Of note is that these NPCs don't suffer from Artifical Stupidity and can actually defend you while you learn the controls.


Platform Game

  • Planets Veldin, Aranos, Veldin again, and Kerwan in Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank 2, Ratchet & Clank 3, and Ratchet & Clank Future respectively. The latter three all have bits that could be tricky for a first-time player, but apart from that, they fit the trope perfectly.
  • Level 1 of Prince of Persia is somewhat like this, in that you can just run and jump to get the sword so you can fight off the average Mook that stands between you and the level exit (though Sequence Breaking makes even that one fight unnecessary). The most difficult part about the first level is to not fall into spiked pits, but playing cautiously can prevent that.
  • Tomb Raider 1's first level is, quite literally, "Caves". It has mostly weak enemies (bats and snipe-able wolves) and easy puzzles. It's not exactly a walk in the park, of course, but it's a lot easier than the first levels of the next three Tomb Raider games.
  • Plok starts off with the relatively easy (and thanks to Warp Zones, mostly skippable) Cotton Island levels, which take place before the fleas take over Plok's island.
  • First sector of Jumper is effectively this. To die here at least once is a crime.
  • Wario Land 4 has the Hall of Hieroglyphs that explains the basic controls of the game through... well... hieroglyphs in the background.
  • Knuckles Chaotix has a training world called Isolated Island where you can basically do whatever you want to get used to the controls.
    • On a related note, Sonic Heroes also has a training world (Sea Gate), which has the same purpose.
  • The first castle of any Mario game, such as the first "our princess is in another castle" 1-4, the level 1-3, a mostly cave level where you fight Mouser, Larry's airship, and Iggy's castle.


Racing Game

  • Blur multiplayer has a race playlist that can only be joined by anyone rank 10 or less. The only problem is, you don't get kicked out once you move past rank 10, so if you never leave, you can keep playing that playlist until rank 50.


Real Time Strategy

  • Pikmin 2 has the emergence cave, which only has the weakest enemies, as well as no bosses or hazards. It is also where you first get purple pikmin and has only 2 floors.


Roguelike

  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon had "Tiny Woods" which had only three floors, and was an extremely feature-limited version of the rest of the dungeons in the game. You were also unable to recruit new members there. The sequel had Beach Cave, which was equally short.
    • And, ironically, one of the best places for finding useful items such as Stun Seeds.
  • In the Roguelike Dungeon Crawl, the first level of the dungeon might, in case of unlucky map generating rolls, a death trap. Causes of death have included at least orcs in a small room with only secret doors.
  • In ADOM, a cave northwest had very weak monsters. However, the earlier version of the game scaled to extremely difficult very fast. Instead, the noob cave is obtained from the leader in Teryino or from the tiny girl.
  • Angband and most of its variants feature only a single dungeon that becomes progressively more difficult as the player progresses. The first levels are very similar to the stereotypic noob cave - they feature only small insects, worms, rodents and the occasional enemy adventurer. In variants with multiple dungeons, the game typically begins near a fairly shallow and safe one.


Role Playing Game

  • The Temple of Fiends from Final Fantasy I does double-duty as both the Noob Cave and The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, the latter of which is the Temple of Fiends from 2000 years ago.
    • In Final Fantasy III the very first scene you see is your character falling through a hole into a cave, complete with a boss fight at the end of it.
    • Final Fantasy IV has the Mist Cave as its initial dungeon; it's only one floor and relatively simple to traverse. Also, the Pirate Cave from Final Fantasy V and Narshe Mines in Final Fantasy VI count.
    • Final Fantasy VIII has the Fire Cavern.
      • This is actually a TIMED noob cave. You can select how much time you're given, but in order to get the best Seed rank in the beginning, you have to get as close to 0:00 as possible. between 0:00 and 0:07, actually.
    • Final Fantasy XI has the Zeruhn Mines, literally right next to Bastok Mines.
    • Final Fantasy VII has two in the beginning of the game - the Sector 1 and Sector 5 reactors. Though they vary somewhat (Sector 5's reactor has a simple timed button press puzzle, and you're on a timed exit from the Sector 1 reactor that's impossible to accidentally mess up), the two dungeons are actually identical after a certain point, and both bosses are pretty simple.
  • In the first Fallout game, the player takes control after stepping out of their Vault's entrance, and finds themself in a cave populated only by rats, which they must navigate to reach the greater game. Initially the player is unable to re-enter the Vault, but later in the game they must come back and pass through this first cave in order to return to their Vault and progress through the plot.
    • Temple of Trials in Fallout 2 is the Noob Cave. Vault 101 and the Super Duper Mart fill this role in Fallout 3.
      • The cave beneath Springvale School in Fallout 3 can also qualify, as it's more immediately accessible to newbie players, and it has the giant ants.
      • The former can be a Scrappy Level for some characters, particularly those not being played for melee.
      • Vault 101 seems more of this, since this is where you learn gaming basics, and during your last moments in the vault there are enemies to fight.
    • New Vegas has the Goodsprings Schoolhouse, filled with large grasshoppers.
  • In Arcanum the crash site where the game begins is a mountain valley inhabited by weak wolves, boars and small goblin-like creatures, obviously to grind up a level before leaving.
    • There is also a small cave, for those who take the time to explore the valley.
  • The Golden Sun series has one in each game: the Sol Sanctum in the original and Kandorean Temple in the sequel. The Sol Sanctum can't be revisited, while Kandorean Temple has nothing of worth for high-level characters besides a single Djinni needed for Hundred-Percent Completion.
  • The Imperial Subterrane in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. To lesser extent, Addamasartus in in The Elder Scrolls III:Morrowind. Also Privateer's Hold in The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall. And, of course, the Imperial Prison in Arena.
    • Oblivion also has a dungeon right across the river from where you come out of prison. You may need to revisit it several times, but it's described by the game's strategy guide as a "Baby's First Dungeon".
    • and now Skyrim has Helgen, specifically the keep and tunnels, where the player learns all the game basics and fights their first enemies. Several dungeons around Helgen and Riverwood also handle the player with kid gloves as well.
  • The game properly begins in one of these in The Last Remnant. The Ruins of Robelia Castle and The Gaslin Caves may also counts as this is where a lot of the gameplay is explained and they're the earliest and easiest missions.
  • The first cave in Dragon Quest game had no monsters in it.
  • In the Avernum games, there will be a first-level dungeon full of goblins, and you will go through it, or else get flattened by a slime or giant lizard elsewhere.
  • Albion has one on the spaceship Toronto right at the beginning in the form of a less frequently visited area of the ship that you're not supposed to go to. There are no enemies, only puzzles and seemingly harmless cleaning robots. (Much later, you will find that these are actually Killer Cleaning Robots of Doom that could each flatten a battalion of demons, but at this point they don't attack.) This dungeon is optional and easy enough to miss.
    • There is also the Hunter Clan's supply cellar that holds some decent loot and money to get you started. The strongest monsters in the cave are a Skrinn 2 and a Krondir, both of which are regular enemies outside the city walls, but at this level, even a few of the lesser Skrinn can be dangerous.
  • The Heroes' Guild is the Noob Cave in Fable II. Full of beetles and not much else.
  • In Planescape: Torment, the protagonist Wakes Up At The Morgue, and then has to leave, which is complicated by the fact that the morgue in question is staffed by members of a Cult that find his immortality blasphemous. This being Planescape: Torment, however, the player is given ample opportunity to escape with only one "casualty" (and that was a zombie, so it hardly counts), or (if you have a decent charisma score) to simply walk up to the front door and kindly ask the doorkeeper to open it for you.
  • Most of the Wizardry games start out with a "Noob Cave." The early games (I-V) usually had the "noob cave" as the first level of the dungeon. Wizardry VI took it to another level with a "noob castle" that you had to keep coming back to throughout the game, and Wizardry 8 forced you through a "noob monastery" which started out easy but increased the difficulty geometrically the longer you hung around in it, to discourage Level Grinding. Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant was the only one to have an optional "noob cave", although it was highly encouraged to help build player levels before heading further into the game.
  • Eden Prime in Mass Effect; Lazarus Station in Mass Effect 2. Both have their game's respective tutorials, the temporary squadmates (Richard L. Jenkins and that Wilson guy) who are killed and then replaced (with Ashley and Miranda) within 15 minutes of gameplay, and a few not particularly strong enemies (weak geth and LOKI mechs). While you start off with all your basic weapons in ME1, in ME2 you're equipped with a heavy pistol you conveniently find next to your bed and a grenade launcher you steal off a dead guy halfway through the stage.
  • Chateau (de) Irenicus in Baldurs Gate 2, the dungeon you start the game in and must escape from. Known for being so reviled by long-time players that a mod was eventually made just to let people skip it. On an unrelated note, Noob Cave or not, it's easily the thematically darkest dungeon in the whole game, including "Hell". Definitely the home of a Complete Monster.
  • The Undead Asylum And Undead Burg from Dark Souls are relatively simple, non-hazardous affairs, with mostly basic foes and the occasional Boss in Mooks Clothing to help show you just what skills you're going to need to survive.


Tabletop Games

  • The granddaddy of all Dungeons and Dragons adventure modules: B2: The Keep on the Borderlands, is laid out as a series of Noob Caves ringing a box canyon. From left to right, each cave is populated with successively harder humanoid opponents.

    Another example would be the granddaddy's sister, "B3: Palace of the Silver Princess", a novice scenario in which a fairy-tale castle (which is nearly all underground passages for some reason) has had its residents Taken for Granite and been invaded by monsters. The first few rooms' descriptions actually talk the Dungeon Master through the process of running a game, much like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. You Can't Go Home Again in this one, because if you finish the scenario, the statues un-petrify and it goes back to being a peaceful community where there's no call for adventurers.


Visual Novel

  • Ace Attorney:
    • Phoenix Wright's very first case can be considered a noob cave. There's only one witness, you have only 3 pieces of evidence to use, and the witness has so many obvious contradictions that pressing him is not even needed.
    • The first cases of the later games also tend to be simpler than those that follow; since there's no investigation phase and the basic mechanics of the court system are explained in-game just in case someone's jumping into the series for the first time. That said, the first cases of part II, part III and especially part IV are much, much, much harder than the first case of the first game.
    • Miles Edgeworth's game, Ace Attorney Investigations, also follows the trope. In the first case you play, there's only two rooms to examine, there's only one person to cross examine, and most of the contradictions are easy to spot.
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