For years there have been cries of how ‘Eve is dead’ and how one update or another will bring about the end of the game. Some of the recent reasons include how the blackout will destroy nullsec (security ratings of 0.0 and below), or the tax hike will destroy hisec (security ratings of 0.5 and above) markets and trading. And while some players really do stop playing, the game still goes on with people logging in every day from all around the world. There is one area of space though that really has been dead. Lowsec space (security ratings of 0.1 to 0.4) has had a distinct lack of players living there and content to be had, outside of a few small areas. Many news site have run articles on the subject; CrossingZebras, EveNews24, NewEdenReport, and even cries on Reddit. However, we may be approaching the time when lowsec rises from the ashes and becomes a popular place to live again.
The Shake Up
To understand this theory we have to look at some of CCP’s recent changes to Eve and their cumulative effects. The first piece of the puzzle comes from the blackout of local chat in nullsec mentioned above. This update only affects nullsec by removing its largest method of intelligence gathering – watching local chat for enemies and neutrals. It became impossible to track hostile pilots as they moved around hunting ratters and miners with a network of people just watching local chat to see names pop up. Now the only way to be sure of someone’s location in nullsec is to actually see them in space. There’s a lot more risk involved in mining and ratting now since an enemy could be cloaked only a few kilometers off a ship and nothing would indicate its impending assault. But that isn’t exactly what happened, and while some people may have stopped, largely life continued on as usual. Crowd sourcing still makes thing relatively safe as long as people pay attention and stay on their toes.
The next piece came with mixed reviews as it delivered a serious blow to botting with changes to the popular Vexor Navy Issue (VNI). This update redesigned VNIs in a way that moved them away from being cheap AFK ratting ships to dangerous brawling PvP ships. Now if people want to continue this method of earning ISK it must be done in less effective ships, like Myrmidons, or more expensive ships like Gilas and Ishtars. Once again though, people found a way to adapt with minimal changes of spending more time AFK or investing more up front.
The block that really tips the scales though is CCP’s recent announcement on changes to Cynosural Fields. When activated Cynosural Field Generators (Cynos) light a beacon that jump capable ships can use to move from any system in range instantly to the same grid. What that means is that as soon as a ship is in trouble, if they have friends on standby, they can get reinforcements to help them out in a matter of seconds as long as the cyno ship can survive long enough. Combined with the abundance of some of the most powerful ships in the game, super-carriers and titans, this made it possible for people to PvE with little to no risk. The ease of just fitting a cyno and trusting that backup was never far away is coming to an end though. If the update goes through as is, only a select few ships will be able to use cynos at all. Not only that, but these ships are relatively easy to destroy making timing extremely important in order to be rescued. Now sure, once again people will find a way to adapt and overcome this problem and continue their lifestyle in nullsec, but there is another option.
Analyzing the Data
Traditionally nullsec has been seen as a rich area that can be farmed with large expensive ships in relatively safety with the proper precautions. One by one though these updates slowly strip some of that security away. First went the easy warning system, then the cheap but efficient option, and lastly the umbrella that all but assured protection with swift action and overwhelming force.
The problem that nullsec faces now is the ever-narrowing window of opportunity to save hapless victims from ruthless hunters and the decreasing number of viable alternatives. As stated before, a hostile could be cloaked nearby at any time and there is no way to know they are even in the same system. This means a greater threat and increased risk to flying big expensive ships. In the past if the risk became too much it was easy to use a VNI with its low skill point requirements and cheap cost that could be recouped in less than two hours with minimal effort. Now that option is gone. Sure people can use more expensive ships, but the risk is higher with ships costing three times as much or more. Cheaper options still exist, but they don’t deal anywhere near as much damage and thus earn ISK at a much slower rate. Have no fear though, people could still fly a large ship that could withstand a beating till help came. That is until the cyno changes make it so that only another ship is able to light that cyno for help, and that ship is much easier to destroy, delaying the arrival of reinforcements. The solution to that is flying a rorqual with a PANIC module that provides plenty of time to be saved, really only risking the pricey excavators. But there’s only so many high end moons and good ore to mine before the belt flips, and what does all of this have to do with lowsec?
Synthesizing a Solution
The answer is simple, it provides the ability to have a greater amount of time to respond to threats. Lowsec doesn’t have the same problem of being surprised since it still has local chat that lists every pilot in the system. With a few alts in surrounding systems, it becomes easy to know if an enemy is close before they ever jump in. Moons in lowsec are quite valuable and with the warning provided by local it becomes quite easy to save the drones as well as the ship. Sure there isn’t an unlimited number of combat anomalies, but with a proper umbrella in place to save those Rorquals, it becomes much safer to run those lucrative level 5 missions. All of this doesn’t mean it will be entirely safe though, with new targets will come new hunters providing the ever sought after content people crave. Suddenly this whole lowsec revival doesn’t sound quite so crazy. No, people won’t flock to lowsec in droves, but it just might be enough to breathe life back into this almost forgotten section of space.