A while ago, The Mittani described NPC nullsec as “knife fights between small gangs, where no territory can be captured.” Since then many people have likened this description to lowsec; where the mechanics are slightly different, but it is mostly the same (minus the bubbles). This description is appropriate, and for years lowsec has flourished as the treacherous boundary between the relative safety of empire space and the maelstrom that is nullsec. People from all walks of life have been to lowsec, whether they are merely passing through, looking for some quick PVP, or settling in to become Eve’s next big pirate.
Sadly, Eve has changed since those days of old. With the addition of new content in nullsec, wormholes and even in empire space there are less and less reasons to venture out into lowsec. Most of the time people in lowsec are simply passing by, with most of the scuffles breaking out over trapped ships that weren’t paying attention to local or d-scan, like The Bleak Lands (seemingly appropriately named for the number of times we’ve brought a solo carrier through there without a single person batting an eyelid). In lowsec, there are pockets of activity, usually always dominated by a single alliance or pseudo-coalition that have banded together to try and carve a piece of space out as theirs, or those trying to establish a foothold in someone else’s backyard. These pockets are regarded as the oasis’ of the desert of lowsec and provide most of the engaging content within. Small gang fights, gate camps, black-ops drops and roaming gangs are commonplace in these areas, with vast sieges of opposing citadels sprinkled here-and-there for good measure. This scenario is the lowsec PVPers dream; the content of every type right on their doorstep. A good example of this is around Old Man Star, where players gather for PVP due to the fables of “Old Man Star being so dangerous” and the fact that Shadow Cartel lives just around the corner; therefore promising PvP and content to the masses who flock there. This system, however, isn’t the paradise it seems to be, there is always a catch.
To PVP in these areas, you are in one of three groups: the dominant power of the area, the opposing forces or simply neutrals. The first group is usually the most powerful as they have the infrastructure and resources in the local area to engage whoever chooses to wander into their lair. The opposing forces are sometimes as well equipped, but usually are not staged in the same area so much of their infrastructure is not present. The neutral players are just irrelevant in the grand scheme of things sadly, without backup, without resources, 9/10 of these few players can be at most an inconvenience to the other groups. Because of this situation, you are either fighting an impossible battle for content, against an enemy who will flee to prevent unnecessary losses or against vastly unprepared players, none of which are what people can argue is particularly enthralling content.
What makes things worse is when a smaller, less experienced group decides to move into the area nearby one of these power blocs. Now I hear you ask, “But wait a minute, that means more people to fight, so that means more content?” You are right but, at the same time, wrong and here’s why. When this new group settles into the area and begins searching for content, the nearby dominant group will undoubtedly become aware of their presence and see these interlopers as fresh victims. Within days they will be dropping on their fleets, harassing their gangs and hitting any structures they may have set up in their short visit. Within weeks, this new group will either have had to fight tooth and nail to defend what they have and become one of the enemy groups or be forced to evacuate and leave for a new area of space. When a new group arrives, this is the reaction 90% of the time, and it is killing content in the same way a starving animal depletes an influx of food. If new prey arrives in a region and starving animals hunt it down and feast on it, then the prey will either flee or die out. This cycle means you are often back at square one and hungry yet again.
These are just some of the factors that have been slowly drying up lowsec like the dust bowls of the 30s, except instead of cattle skeletons scattered about the place, we have low powered citadels and POCOs belonging to long-dead alliances. The changes to moon mining in Lifeblood have been a promising rain cloud on the horizon though, with players able to get a taste for the profits of moon mining in 0.5 systems there have been many migrating to lowsec to seek higher profits. Unfortunately, these people are simply raindrops in the desert rather than the refreshing flood we all hoped.
CCP needs to give people a reason to travel to lowsec. Highsec is relatively safe, within range of Jita and other hubs and where most players are concentrated. Nullsec is dangerous but promises high levels of content and profit. Lowsec, however, is dangerous, there is minimal content and nowhere near as much profit as in nullsec. Even with the new Abyssal Deadspace sites, if you can run them in highsec, then it’s infinitely safer and easier to run them there without fear of being caught by a wandering PVPer. This mechanic means people have little reason to venture into the orange band of danger, and either pass straight through to nullsec or remain in the safety of highsec. Lowsec needs to become more attractive to people to settle in and base out of, and not restrict people from wanting to base within jump range of their friends who have bigger ships than their enemies. With the addition of the newest Abyssal content to the game, the question is asked (again) about when content aimed explicitly at lowsec will be appearing?
Featured image credit: Exonfang