They're reopening Alpha and letting anyone with an active account test out the updates. Also for those who were already in Alpha we get to keep our characters. So a good place to hang out when the regular servers are down.
Update - 12:33PM PST: Very soon happens to be Today! Players can have their first look at the premiere update for Rift today (Saturday 3/5/11) starting @ 2:00PM PST!
We’re already hard at work on Rift’s first major update and soon we will need your help! We will be temporarily opening the Alpha test shard for all players with an active subscription very soon, here you will be able to have a firsthand look at all the new content and improvements we have in the wings.
Alpha will only be open during certain periods so be sure to check it out and give your feedback when you can! Of course, being a test shard means that at times things will not go as planned – expect bugs, bumps, and frequent maintenance.
While you can’t copy your characters, those who played on Alpha before headstart will find their characters are still available. Lastly, try to avoid sharing spoilers across the forums; many players enjoy learning and discovering the game on their own, we appreciate your understanding.
Thanks for your help and feedback, we’re making Rift better together – have fun!
Start patching today – Download the Alpha Client
If you still have your client installed from pre-headstart Alpha testing, don't re-download the game. Simply launch Alpha and patch up!
You’ll find the latest notes in the patcher!
Not sure what the format needs to be to get the link to work.. but here it is without the HTML