I got into the Rift beta Friday… I think they might actually have something here.
It's not super innovative; but that's actually a good thing… They basically took the MMO 'standard' (the thing that lets you log into it and pretty much know how everything works) and added the cool stuff from just about every MMO that's ever been.
As a fairly big fan of the genera I can easily point out the game that a feature came from:
The namesake “Rifts” are just a tweak of the Blight Anchors in Istaria. The principle is that the game dynamically generates content by having random portals to alternate planes open up and start spewing bad guys into our plane. When this starts if folks get right on it the critters are pretty easy to defeat, but as time goes on and they aren't stopped they get harder and harder. Eventually they start taking over towns and spawning more rifts.
The multiclass system is also essentially lifted from Istaria. It's interesting in that it allows you to really fine tune your 'class' into something you want… I currently have an interesting mix of chain wearing paladin that uses a staff imbued with elemental shaman spells as a melee weapon and uses Druid spells with summoned Fae pets… It sounds odd, but it's what I wanted to play – and it works. I don't think it's possible to gimp yourself.
The PvP is handled similar to WoW's battlegrounds as it's instanced and if you don't wanna PvP, you don't have to.
It's also real pretty to look at – while having some actual game-play elements! If you go to the site, be sure to check out the back story – it's actually pretty interesting.
In short, there are two factions – one is highly religious due to literally being saved by their pantheon, the other has this quasi steam-punk techno-mage thing going on and having been forsaken by the aforementioned pantheon has taken their salvation into their own hands.
Yeah, they don' get along real well… At least this is what I've gotten out of it in two days of playing – It's pretty deep.
My only complaint is that the race selection is kind of uninspired… Six flavors of tall, short, big, blue, and pointy eared human. Rumor has it though that they'll be adding races in due time and they'll be 'different'… With as good as the game is, I'm willing to put up with being a monkey for a while. 😀
So there ya go. Rift. Check it out.