Features: crafting/building focus, perma-death, open PvP, set in colonial New England (aka The New World), free 2 play, "generations"
The developers have been very clear that this game is about freedom. They are removing the "grindy" parts of MMOs to get the players to the "end game". Players logging in on day one are in the "end game" and participating in the community.
With freedom comes consequence. A prime example is the idea that there will be forests in the game that players can clear. Clear an entire forest and waste the wood on something, players are out of wood in that area. This fits right in with the focus of the game's narrative: the New World. Players will be focused on building and expanding in the new territory and that will open all kinds of avenues for teamwork and competitive play.
The discussion of freedom extends further when you start talking about open PvP and the fact the game will feature perma death. A player's character can be murdered, never to be seen again, but only if the "murdering" player consciously makes that decision. Incidental murder will not be possible and being flagged a murderer will be a very troubling position to be in when you are caught.
This all sounds a bit out there, but the developers have experience in the perma-death, crafting/building MMO realm. They already run Haven and Hearth, Salem's predecessor that has executed and learned from most of these ideas.
Lastly, Salem is going to be free 2 play (F2P) which should allow for anyone curious to get their feet wet.
Features: three-faction "realm vs realm" (though legally they cannot call it that), SWG-style gathering
If Star Wars Galaxies and Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC) had a love child, it would be Dominus (formerly Prime Online: The Battle for Dominus).
Dominus, based in a SciFi setting, will feature three-faction warfare along with an in depth crafting and exploration system where resources will be unique to an area and be finite (in the fact they could be gathered into extinction).
The game is also being geared towards PvP combat with the three factions battling it out for control of zones and areas similar to DAoC frontiers. There will also be a bounty system where players can hunt individual targets or live with one foot in the grave by carrying a large bounty on their head.
Dominus also marks the return of Sanya Thomas (now Sanya Weathers), of DAoC fame, back to the MMO community manager standpoint. If you haven't followed MMOs for a long time, you may have missed the fact she pretty much invented how modern day community management is done for an MMO.
Features: based on Otherlands book series by Tad Williams, SciFi and Fantasy combined (or really any sort of world they want to add as Otherlands is really a metaverse capable of any idea that can be thought up), eDNA system, free 2 play
While Dominus and Salem have received a bit of press and a small mentioning in some notable blogs, Otherlands on the other hand has received almost no attention. And that's a damn shame because the Otherlands books by Tad Williams are a superb read. Not to mention the game is shaping up to be an excellent free 2 play MMO experience.
The Otherlands is a meta-verse in which users log in and have experiences in various worlds. Everything from World War I to swords and sorcery fantasy is covered. The areas in the game will be varied from the main meta-verse hub to a fantasy world that grew out of a chess board and features a giant floating game of chess happening in the sky (and that description doesn't even come close to doing the area in question justice. Watch this video to learn more about the chess board zone.)
The important thing to understand is that the zones in the game are "simulations" and therefore are not meant to simulate a "real" world. Things can be serious or exaggerated and it all fits into the game's lore. Rules in the simulations can be bent and broken, changed, or given context. Its really a perfect fit for an MMO.
Another neat feature is non-static NPCs. NPCs will be on life cycles where they actually travel and have things to do. A fisherman will go to fish, a baker will go to buy flour, etc.
However, the coolest thing going for Otherlands is the idea of eDNA and the MyLand feature. The basic premise is players will be able to find something in a simulation (aka zone) and take a copy of it's eDNA which can then be brought back to their MyLand zone to transplant a copy. Its MMO housing on steroids and this is one MMO where instanced housing zones make complete and logical sense.
If there is any MMO that I'm excited about these days it is Otherlands.