n Rift, or at least the game's last beta event before the March 1st release, engaging play doesn't seem to start at the level cap. Part of this can be attributed to the dynamic rift and invasion events occurring throughout the game-world, but much of it is the result of the rewards, reputations, and objectives that can be pursued by players once they leave the starting area.
The most notable among these activities results from the rifts and invasions, because involvement provides both reputation and currency. While currency can be applied to everything from a pair of level-appropriate, epic pants to a new ability useful against the enemies summoned by the rifts, the reputations also unlock rewards from a pet squirrel to an item integral to starting maximum-level raid events. Destroying a certain set of major rift enemies can also provide a character title.
Questing also allows for items and recipes provided through earning favor with a faction throughout a zone, along with a few pieces of gear.
Other things that can be pursued are various zone achievements, player-versus-player gear and talents, and crafting recipes purchased with quest tokens. Artifacts can also provide a distraction, with their addition of small discoverable collections that can be traded in for a coin apparently used to buy pets, a mount, and funny-looking hats.
And while I spent much of my time during the beta trying to reach higher-level areas to further test the game, for the head-start period, more effort will be spent on the rewards I can obtain during the leveling process than simply hitting a given number.