I tried Rift again yesterday. I still find myself unable to get very far out of a sense of “different enough to feel uncomfortable, similar enough to feel like I have already seen it all.” (Gameplay wise, not whatever the world might be.) The discomfort might not be there if I was a player of WoW rather than the similar games with slightly different controls; I am not sure if that would be good or just leave “same.”
I presume that goes away as you get into the Rift-unique stuff that lies beyond the introduction. That is a big problem. The tutorial zone is horrible in the sense that it shows off every way that Rift is like its competition while highlighting none of the ways it is unique beyond a small taste of the soul system. If you are making things familiar to target the audience that already plays this genre, you also need to make things different enough to give a reason to switch games (with all the related inertia. Not that “former WoW players” is not a huge market, but expect Blizzard to put in something special to convert them (at least temporarily) to “current WoW players” just before you launch, just to make it that much harder for you to get entire guilds to switch.