The NDA has come down on the Rift Beta, and the blogosphere has jumped into action. Trion gets major points in my book for having the confidence in their product to allow players to talk about it seemingly so early. (By contrast, Mythic carefully kept Warhammer's broken endgame hidden behind an NDA all the way up to release, and SOE is insisting on an NDA for EQ2's next expansion beta even though we learned today that the beta won't even start until about a month prior to release.)
Of the various posts, Keen's take on the alpha and beta stood out the most to me, in fairness perhaps because I'm jaded and skeptical and his is one of the more critical impressions I've seen. In particular, his critique of the questing system as trailing WoW's in both quality and quantity stands out as a red flag.
As nearly as I can tell, Rift's two major selling points are the dynamic content (though most people seem underwhelmed by the basic Rifts) and the use of the flexible "soul" class system to overcome challenging content. Will Trion succeed in using dynamic content to add challenge and variety, with the regular quests taking a back seat as things you do when nothing else is happening? If so, will they manage to communicate that focus to new players, or will the familiar seeming quest system draw newbies away from Rift's greatest strengths and towards unfavorable comparisons with a competitor that has spent an entire expansion cycle on perfecting the theme park quest?
The good news is that these guys are really conveying the impression that they know what they're doing, which is how they've earned all the praise they're getting around the blogs. I just hope that they can use their remaining beta time to get the game to a place where all these good sentiments won't be gone a month after launch.