A couple posts back when I discussed some of the upcoming MMO's, Rift: Planes of Telara was not on that list. To be honest, I had seen the title and a few screenshots and immediately thought of Aion's rifts. Thinking it was yet another Eastern open PvP MMO, I just overlooked the game.
So here I was Sunday night watching four and a half hours of the Lost finale (yikes!) and reading the latest issue of Beckett Massive Online Gamer during those hundreds of commercials. One of the articles included an interview with Scott Hartsman on Rift. Hey, that's the EQ/EQ2 guy. Reading further I learned they have some tremendous talent on this team from just about every Western MMO made. They've got people who worked on diplomacy in Vanguard, as well as the public quests in Warhammer.
The world will be seamless with no zoning. Your decisions often will affect the world around you and your future dealings with NPC's. They also plan to have different ruleset servers--PvP, PvE, RP, etc. Checking out their official forums, I was amazed at the number of names I recognized from EQ2 and Vanguard. Given the large PvE following, there have been posts wanting clarification of forced PvP via the rifts. Mr. Hartsman's answer was "I didn't say 'it could never happen' just 'not as a matter of course' (e.g. all over the place, when you're not expecting it, etc - That would be unsmart/unfun.)"
Rift is still at least a year or two from release and one I've definitely added to my watch list. I'm hoping from the feedback they've been getting they might reconsider the "occasional forced PvP" at least on a separate ruleset server. Otherwise the large following they have from EQ/EQ2/Vanguard may likely move on, as will I.