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#1a If you wish to see what servers are the most populous, not necessarily popular, go to www.riftgame.com/en/shardstatus/ #1b All servers are likely to be equally "noob friendly." #2 About as hard as in other MMOs that are in the "WoW clone" style. #3 You already asked that.
Stop complaining. I could have done this more painfully. - Dryad from Sacred 2.