I see most of the posters here are ex-WoW players. Has anyone come over from FFXI, and can you compare the two experiences?
Quite a few WoW players played FFXI as well (myself included). Of course, I never got higher than level 32, so my views should be taken with a grain of salt
Graphical style is much more like FFXI than WoW (realistic humanoids in both... I mean, excluding Tarus). Leveling experience is MUCH different: leveling is slow in FFXI, and although you can solo now it's still very difficult for some classes. Rift's leveling is pretty quick thus far, and instead of grinding enemies it relies more on quests. All the quests gives currency, experience, and some give notoriety (used to buy items from a quartermaster in the zone) or decent items/weapons/armor.
The soul system is a nice combination of the talent trees from WoW (very similar layout) and the versatility of FFXI's subjob system. In WoW you have ten classes with three distinct trees - one will be your main tree, and you might put points in another later on. In Rift you have 4 callings (warrior, rogue, cleric, mage) with 9 souls, of which you can use three at a time. So... say in FFXI you liked being a Bard, but wanted a WHM for some healing. But man, you really wish you had a RNG's long-range attacks, or a BST's tame pet ability. Well, in Rift you can get all of that - take Bard soul for the songs (and healing, bard is a support/healing class in Rift), take Marksman as your second soul (for strong ranged attacks and good mobility), and grab ranger as a third soul, because they get a pet even if you never use any points.
The Auction House more closely resembles WoW. You can look up what's currently for sale and most items have a buyout option if you want them immediately.
Equipment again resembles WoW. Instead of having +1, +2, etc, item rarity is divided by color (white is common, green uncommon, blue rare, purple epic... I think they call it epic?). There is no horizontal progression until level 50 (unlike FFXI, where your AF1 would last you many levels before the level cap).
Crafting is cut-and-paste WoW. Click a button, get the item. I preferred FFXI's crafting, despite the chance for catastrophic failure.
Can't comment on raiding because I never did it in FFXI and as the first person on my server just hit 50 last night, I doubt anyone is raiding much yet. I know Closed Alpha players were in expert dungeons if not raids before the head start, but I have no idea if they can talk about it yet. The NDA might still be in effect. However, raid sizes are 10 or 20 people, and regular party size is 5. Usually the roles will be tank/healer/3 DPS, but it varies a lot. Traditionally you'd think of them as warrior/cleric/3x rogue or mage, but last night I did a dungeon run with rogue tank, mage healer, rogue support (me), and a cleric and rogue as DPS. Warriors? We don't need no stinkin' warriors This page
will give you a summary of what each soul does. Unlike FFXI you cannot be every calling on one character - however, unlike WoW you have 9 souls to choose from instead of 3 limited roles. Take a cleric if you want to fool around with all the basic roles; they can tank, heal, or deal damage.