We had the opportunity to briefly check out Rift: Planes of Telara at last year's E3 (under the name Heroes of Telara) but this year, Trion Worlds had a much more... complete version to show us. Lots has changed in the game, so let's take a brief overview of what we saw at this year's E3.
There are two factions in Rift, the Guardians and the Defiant. The Guardians were reborn by the Gods, and strive to rebuild the world as a holy place. The Defiant follow a more technology-oriented path, choosing to make their own destiny. Each faction has access to every type of class, though for certain classes factions must achieve a higher level in order to unlock them. The character creation system is pretty deep, letting players use a slider to mould their avatar's face, along with standard options for hair, gender, and the like.
We were shown the Defiant faction, and players familiar with Warhammer Online should feel right at home with them. Lots of the technology shown has a very distinct "Chaos" feel to it, especially in the Rifts themselves. Rift's big draw will be the dynamic events that will occur during gameplay whether players are around or not, and a Rift is just one example of that. Rifts are Oblivion Gate-like tears in the landscape, where players start Public Quest events consisting of defeating enemies. Anyone (in the same faction) can jump in at any time to help out, but each Rift will be soloable, so don't worry about going at it alone when it's three in the morning!
We also got a quick look at an early instance, set up for a five-man party. Raids at the endgame will go up to 25-man, and each instance can be set to a heroic mode. There wasn't much setting it apart from anything in World of Warcraft, for example, but we were told the endgame raids were going to be much more complex, especially in the boss fights.
Rift: Planes of Telara is set to release sometime in 2011, though no date was specifically given.