In the nearly two years I have played this game, I’ve spent a decent amount of time living in all areas of space (aside from Pochven). While I have spent more time in null-security space than anywhere else, I’ve always found low-security to be my favorite area of space. It’s gotten to be a bit of a meme in my current corporation that, despite having done very little outside of Delve-adjacent regions since before I joined, I have a habit of going off on tangents about how great low-sec is. Since the standard path which new players get pushed to is straight into one of the non-selective null alliances such as my own and they get told that nothing worthwhile happens elsewhere, a lot of people seem to not understand why I like low-sec so much.
I will answer the obvious question first: If I love low-sec so much, why am I in a null-sec alliance? Right now, one of the main things keeping me where I am is the war. It is the first major war since I started playing. I was there from the first move ops and, since my side seems to be winning, I plan on staying to the end. I don’t know if I’ll want to be part of the next big war, but I want to be able to say “I was there” for at least one of the big wars of the game’s history. Additionally, I am quite fond of the community that I am part of as a member of Capital Fusion. right now.
What is my background with low-sec?
It is where I began. When I was a new player, I spent most of my time roaming Placid and Black Rise as a member of EVE University’s low-sec campus. I taught myself how to fly by fitting up frigates from mission loot and what was in E-Uni’s corporate hangars and taking them out on roams (I rarely brought those ships home and barely any of my solo roams got any kills). I started leading frigate roams as a very new player because I wanted to go on fleets and other people weren’t running corporation fleets. By the time that I left, I was their most active USTZ fleet commander, usually leading low-sec roams through that area. Even when the 2019 incarnation of the campus collapsed and most of the people who stayed in E-Uni moved to the wormhole campus, myself included, it remained the area of space where I felt most comfortable. The next corporation which I joined disbanded not long after I joined, so I ended up in WAFFLES, where I knew a few people from E-Uni. While WAFFLES was in Pandemic Horde at the time, my preferred content still tended to be in low-sec. When I tried leading fleets again with Horde, I almost always enjoyed what I found in there more than null roams. Being in WAFFLES gave me more opportunities to get the kind of content which I enjoy than I would have gotten with Pandemic Horde as a whole. While I am no longer in WAFFLES, the experience that I got with them was among my favorite things that I have done in New Eden.
What makes low-sec content different from null?
Most people just think of the tactical considerations that come from the lack of bubbles, such as different fleet compositions and the willingness to use expensive implants. The more important result of the inability to use bubbles, along with the more compact geography of low-security space, is that it is impossible to avoid having neighbors. Non-player stations in both null-sec and low-sec prevent people from being fully evicted, but bubble-camping a station undock, especially with the aid of diamond rats, can make it miserable to live in null-sec NPC stations. One of the best things about WAFFLES returning to Black Rise last year was that we rarely had to do more than simply undock to find people to shoot at, since other corporations such as Know-Nothings shared the NPC station with us. In addition to this, staging systems are rarely as isolated from each other as in null-sec. There aren’t any systems with hundreds of people sitting around, but it takes much less time to find a fight because there isn’t as much empty space between the systems where people live. A round trip between Kinakka and Tama is shorter than a one-way trip between R1O-GN and GE-8JV, for example. In addition to this, the less formal nature of low-sec makes it easier to fly around with neighboring corporations/alliances with fewer diplomatic hassles. In both E-Uni and WAFFLES, my corpmates had various different sets of local friends who we talked to in order to fly with (or tell them that we were looking for fights).
What makes me want to go back to flying in low-sec?
When this war ends, my plan is to go back to spending a lot of my time flying around in low-sec again. I’ll probably get back to leading fleets. One of the reasons why I haven’t done much of that recently is because the war doesn’t have much room for my favorite type of fleets that I’ve led. As much as I love low-sec, I don’t really think it’s in the condition that it should be. While I like looking for trouble in cheap, fun things like a blaster Thorax fleet, I also enjoy big objective-based fights in expensive doctrines. Some of my favorite fleet fights that I’ve been in were timers on a couple of different Fortizars during Snuffed Out’s summer deployment to Lantorn. While I don’t think that my role as a logistics anchor for a few Machariel fleets’ Guardians was hugely important (since we also had a decent amount of triage) those fights were quite satisfying.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that there are enough objectives in low-sec which are worth having those big fights over. I understand the reason for the widespread belief that reinstating passive moon income would be bad for the game, but its removal hurt low-sec. I would like to see more objectives which are worth fighting over for those outside of Faction Warfare as a means of bringing activity back. In addition to this, Faction Warfare needs a rework. I’ve never been in FW, so I’ll leave this discussion to those with actual FW experience such as CSM member Torvald Uruz, but I don’t know anyone who thinks that FW is in good shape.
Beyond this, it needs more ways for people to make ISK without a substantial initial investment of capital, skill points, and alts. It’s possible to make huge amounts of ISK if you’re in an alliance with good moons and a large enough capital fleet to defend Rorquals or if you have a few carriers and level 5 mission alts. Most of the people who I’ve known who lived in low-sec sourced their income elsewhere. When I was with WAFFLES, this was easy for us because WAFFLES was in Pandemic Horde at the time and had access to the fertile krablands of The Kalevala Expanse. Our local rivals, Know-Nothings, had a similar solution: an alt corp in Brothers of Tangra (most of them had been in NC and KNONO briefly joined NC at the beginning of the war). When I was with E-Uni, most of us sourced our income from high-sec missions and mining. Orca alts brought in a lot of low-effort ISK, even after I moved to the wormhole campus and started making most of my ISK from ratting in the C3 static, I usually had a character mining whenever I was logged in because it brought in a reasonable amount of ISK for very little attention.
In my opinion, the fact that only the high-end PVE content in low-sec is worthwhile in terms of risk relative to rewards compared to similar activity in high-sec or null-sec is one of the biggest problems with low-sec right now. Newer players in particular tend not to have a lot of alts, so this forces them to choose between spending time in Low-Sec and spending time making the ISK needed to afford flying in low-sec. The addition of more accessible ISK-making opportunities with a reasonable reward for the risk involved would bring more activity to the space.