It stands out from the rest of the genre through the following key features:
-- A powerful and creative skill-based progression system used across a wide range of skill-based game actions, introducing the notions of action phrases and skill bricks. The system is designed to empower players by giving them more creative control over their gaming experience.
-- A career-based role system within which players can combine and switch between specializations, molding their characters into potentially unique specialists.
-- An advanced guild system within which veterans and newcomers lead a symbiotic existence. Guilds progress like characters over time, developing specialized knowledge and advantages. Guild members also choose to have their guild specialize in action-based or social progression. Guilds can declare war, capture and control key game locations, build fortifications, and even rise to power within their civilizations.
-- The introduction of meaningful merchant, hunter/gatherer and artisan roles that don't define their progression axes in terms of combat effectiveness. Only the most basic objects can be found at large in the game. The rest must be manufactured by skilled artisans. All objects degrade with time and use, but can be repaired or upgraded by an artisan with the right materials at hand. Many objects are made from rare materials. Locating, harvesting, transporting and selling these raw materials are the most lucrative activities in the game.
-- A truly dynamic and self-balancing game setting on which players acting together can leave a lasting mark.
-- Tribes of NPCs provide a constant source of game activity. The tribes have evolving high level objectives that generate the goals for their members. These goals generate cooperative or conflictual situations for players, guilds or their civilizations. The tribes act by spawning and assigning goals to groups of warrior, worker or merchant NPCs and by generating player missions for players in friendly guilds or civilizations.
Tribes can own or conquer land, build fortifications, hunt and forage. They can be beaten back in the regions that they inhabit, but can never be wiped out.
-- Flora and fauna in the world respect diurnal and seasonal cycles changing behavior in function of: player hunting and gathering activities; the state of neighboring tribes and their own state during the previous season. Fluctuations are limited by the level design and controlled by fuzzy AI giving a sensible but not rigidly predictable result in response to any given situation.
-- Magical entities called Kamis act to preserve the natural balance in the eco-system. Kamis act by spawning creatures and giving them objectives to counter the most destructive agents in their regions, chasing off hunters or foragers if the region is over-exploited. This dynamic is centered on the tribes of Ryzom and the natural (diurnal and seasonal) cycles.
-- Civilizations generate a constant stream of needs that must be satisfied by player groups. Guilds take on responsibilities in the form of commissions authorized by each civilizations local governing body. Commissions generate missions for guild members and other players, the success or failure of which have blatant impacts on the civilization, determining the types of NPCs that are spawned, the cost and abundance of goods, the chat text for NPC discussion trees and the progression of the civilization.
-- An advanced civilization system providing a high-level Meta-game for power players, a source of meaningful player missions, and a community framework within which players of all types have their place.
-- Through their civilizations players can achieve real fame. Major achievements will be publicized and their repercussions will have a direct impact on the game environment.
-- The game engine elegantly inter-weaves the progression of civilizations, of communities of players within the civilizations, and of the players themselves. In doing so, it moves away from the classic, unique progression drive of improving one's character's combat ability.
-- An all-together new dynasty concept. Ryzom introduces the concepts of natural ageing, children and ancestral skills.
-- As a character progresses in Ryzom they will grow old. Their useful lifetime can be extended artificially, but the older they get the harder that becomes and the more effort it requires.
-- Characters in Ryzom can engender offspring. These “children” inherit the name and fame of their parent and their parent's belongings but not necessarily their skills.