Well I have been considering joining Rift since it launched and have a few questions. First let me state that while I have played a variety of MMOs the 2 I am most familar with are Age of Conan and FFXI so compairsons to those games in answers would be appriciated.
1. Combat. I understand there are massive amounts of abilities you can activate from the hot bar, but how do regular attacks work? (i.e. is there an Auto-attack like FFXI, or do you press the same key over and over again to perform a regular swing)
There is an auto-attack option that automatically activates if you use a hostile, damaging ability or just press the auto-attack button.
2. PVP. Is there any protection to prevent spawn camping and ganking? (i.e. Are there super powered NPC guards at respawn points/res sites to prevent some higher level to sit at the point I respawn and kill me over and over)
I am on a PvE server so your experience may differ, but some locations are more protected than others are. If you rebuild your body however and take the soul damage, there's a shield up for sure for a brief (seconds) time. The roaming invasions can discourage corpse camping however--ignoring them to crawl after someone really isn't helpful in the long run.
3. Storage. Do you get a personal storage space to keep items you want to hang onto, but rather not have taking up inventory slot? (i.e. Mog Safe/locker or Trader storage)
3.a. Is there a Guild community storage?
Yes there is a banker, but no there is no guild bank.
4. Game Challange. Can I solo all the way to max level or will I have to party/group with others at somepoint?
Yes, you can solo, but they make it easy to group for quick things. The game has a public group and private group feature. Private groups are invite only while public groups allow anyone to join that character by pressing a button on top of their character head portrait. When you get near a rift, invasion or foothold/enemy wardstone, a big "JOIN PUBLIC GROUP" button also appears near the top of the screen if there are more people nearby, encouraging people to create groups for the situation.
5. Are races limited to select roles or can any race be any role?
Races are a cosmetic choice--there are no role limitations.