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Blade & Soul launches today, major updates and esports tournaments coming soon

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After an initial announcement that it was finally coming to North America last year, NCSoft's kung fu-focused massively multiplayer game, Blade & Soul, goes live for all players today. But according to the publisher, the content at launch is just the beginning of what North American players be able to access in 2016.

While Blade & Soul has run a series of betas and provided early access to some players, today will be the first time players can access two "epic" difficulty dungeons meant for players at the level 45 cap. These dungeons are Blackram Supply Chain and East Fleet Supply Chain. They will have a six-player normal difficulty setting as well as a four-player hard mode, where enemy attacks will no longer be telegraphed.

Endgame dungeons including the two Supply Chain dungeons will also include a special 24-player mode, where you can group up with a larger collection of random strangers to win tokens allowing you to spin a wheel for prizes. Rewards will include new hairstyles, outfits, weapons and accessories.

Many more additions are planned for "the next few months," in the words of an NCSoft representative. These include:

  • Tower of Mushin - This single-player dungeon is split into floors with its own challenges and monsters. It will begin with floors one through seven, with an eighth (and possibly more) coming later. This dungeon has proven incredibly popular with players in other regions and will include speedrun challenges and leaderboards to encourage replays.
  • Bloodshade Harbor - Another epic dungeon, Bloodshade Harbor will challenge players to fight a pirate admiral.
  • Naryu Labyrinth - This unique epic dungeon is a twisting maze with three levels of content, each with its own boss fights and special challenges. It will conclude with players fighting the gods of thunder and wind.
  • Silverfrost Mountain expansion - This major add-on will open up a new continent in the world of Blade & Soul, as well as new dungeons and an increased level cap of 50. New clan levels will allow players to do complex clan crafting, and the storyline will receive a new act that includes a showdown with the game's initial main antagonist.
  • New class: warlock - Fans who have followed Blade & Soul since its launch in Korea in 2012 have been very vocal about wanting this ranged damage class added to the North American version of the game as soon as possible. NCSoft has listened, and in fact, weapons and other gear for warlocks is already dropping in the game now.

With the level cap increase to 50 and the addition of the warlock class, Blade & Soul in North America and Europe will be considered "caught up" to other regions for all intents and purposes. That's important for the game, because NCSoft is pushing it in a direction you may not expect from an MMO: esports.

The publisher held a world championship for Blade & Soul's one-on-one and three-versus-three PvP modes last year, which featured Korea, China, Japan and Taiwan, regions where the game had already been out for a year or more. The world championship had a $40,000 prize pool.

This year, NCSoft will add North America and Europe to those world championship proceedings, with the proper PvP season beginning once the level 50 and warlock updates have been added to the game. In the PvP mode, levels, gear and attributes are all normalized, so it comes down to skill alone.

Blade & Soul is a free-to-play game with microtransactions and is available to all North American players now. You can find out more info on the official Blade & Soul website.