Honestly, no conspiracy needed. I'm no WoW doomsayer or anything of the sort, but after playing WoW for 6 years Rift does have a certain aura of refreshness to it.
They did use the base WoW framework, where at first when you start playing you will be like, Oh this is a WoW clone (certain things I don't get why they didn't just change a bit so it would prevent that view a bit) but once I got going and you can take in the ambience of the game is really nice, graphics obviously are awesome.
Number one thing though: Character customization... it's great. I'm sure there will be some work involved in ensuring balance in all of it, but the fact that you have access to everything in your archetype to effectively build your own class and play style... I think it's got some real potential. It's definitly worth checking out if you can snag a beta key from somewhere.