According to Masthead, characters in Earthrise won't have classes or be forced down one exclusive development path. All players have the same choice of skills and abilities. This is done because they feel many MMOs have problems balancing skills and fall into a rut by forcing players into rather rigid "ultimate build" classes. In Earthrise a customizable action template will allow enhancement using a special system that lets players modify their abilities and create new ones. And while players may get a slight boost based on their build, there will also be disadvantages to their choices. Masthead puts it like this: "Think of this as the paper/rock/scissors game, where 'the best' character template will be beatable by another 'best' character template." This same system will apply to equipment and loot. Masthead goes into much more detail about the above issues, as well as talks about PvP and loot drops, and how both will be more of a player-centric experience rather than item-centric one.
It all sounds fascinating, and if they can pull it off might actually create a game partially devoid of the age old grind. Only time will tell, but my own personal interest in this game has piqued tremendously over the last month as more and more info is divulged.