The intro to the game shows you what's to come with mindflayers, while keeping you fighting CR 1 and 2 creatures. The premise seems outlandish, but that's just good Dnd and I wouldn't have it any other way. Nothing you are actually supposed to fight, without metagaming for an xp boost or going full chaotic stupid, is that much of a threat.
You leave the ship, and your first major enemies are... low lvl bandits, low lvl undead, and goblins. Wow, I can't remember if my DMs have ever been so cruel as to send us against some big scary bandits. What ever should I do? I'm gonna go save a cat stuck in a tree for some XP first, not sure if I'm willing to go into a fight designed for my level without getting the upper hand.