Five Fun and Profitable Things To Do In Lowsec
Low security space is often portrayed as some kind of meritless wasteland, devoid of any incentives or activities except swift and certain death. This is an unfair characterization applied chiefly by players that have not taken the time to familiarize themselves with how to survive in a hostile environment. This guide lists five reasons to make the jump into low-sec, even if it's just as a vacation. It also cites some handy advice for pursuing these activities.
1. Run Missions
Low-security space tempers its dangers with profit.
There are less famous mission-related features available, as well. Some of the low-sec COSMOS sites (special sites with puzzles and one-time missions) are still there, and they still have interesting missions and features, though they are not nearly as well developed as the high-sec COSMOS sites. I can't speak to their reward level, though. What I can speak to are the faction warfare missions, which have been overbuffed to the point where I don't wonder about CCP fixing them in the near future.
Once you have familiarized yourself with operating in dangerous space, none of these activities are too much trouble. That is, unless someone takes an interest in you and tries to make your life miserable. Just don't give them the opportunity to take a shot at you, and sooner or later they will get bored and leave.
2. Camp Gates
If you can fly a ship that doesn't mind low-sec sentry guns and don't mind losing security status, camping gates in low-security space is good clean fun. Any time you take offensive action against a player ship that is not in a corporation at war with yours, or that has not already taken a similar offensive action within the past fifteen minutes, you will become flagged as a pirate. While you are flagged, other ships may shoot you without penalty, and automatic, invulnerable sentry guns at gates and stations in low-sec will shoot you. The global flag wears off after fifteen minutes, but specific guns have their own timer that counts fifteen minutes from the last time they shot at you.
The gate guns aren't impossible to tank, but they give a sort of advantage to your victims. Theoretically, anyway. Lots of things come through a decent low-sec system, any number of which you can shoot, assuming that you can tackle them before they warp away. The main trouble is that ships capable of tanking the sentry guns usually have cruddy lock times. The Targeting System Subcontroller I rig gives a bonus to scan resolution, which in turn improves lock speed, and may thus prove useful for ships that can't spare a mid-slot.
If you camp a low-sec gate with friends, any gate guns will cycle between all of you, shooting a few volleys at one of you, and then moving on to someone else. Thus, having a group of you present means that tanking the guns is less difficult, especially if remote repairing of shields or armor is factor.
I've said it before, and I will say it again: camping a good gate is some of the most fun that can be had in EVE Online. Shooting the breeze with friends on ventrilo or teamspeak, while trying to catch anybody silly enough to jump into you. Maybe killing somebody that was carrying an expensive item or three, and striking it rich. Maybe having a fleet of pirate-hunters trick you and get you all blown up. It's great fun.
3. Fight In Faction Warfare
Faction warfare has a lot of naysayers, but it's still a good source of low-stakes fun, and generally doesn't attract the kind of end-game players that completely shut out newbies with mothership drops and so forth. Most of the time, anyway. Though the fighting over bunkers has often become more about fighting over gates, and the corporations heavily involved showcase some of the biggest egos in EVE Online, there are still lots of great fights involving smaller ships to be had.
Roleplaying is not my thing, but if I was a roleplayer looking to immerse myself in EVE Online's ongoing story, this would be the best way to do it. You just need to find the right corporation to match your taste.
Speaking of finding the right corporation, I would recommend that the best way to try faction war is to go wholesale with an entire corporation of your friends. That way you aren't regarded with suspicion, nor do you need to deal with the vicissitudes of unstable CEOs, useless corp-mates, or similar problems, unless you bring them with you. Just joining a random faction war corporation seems likely to end badly, unless you know a great deal about the corporation that you are joining.
4. Play The Market
Because of the difficulties sometimes experienced with travel in low-sec, especially in the systems that border high-security space, there are many people that would rather put up unusually high buy orders for items than risk fetching them. Even if the items needed are a mere jump away or in the same system, they may prefer to have other people take the risks for them.
You can capitalize on this by flying around with a covert ops or blockade runner, buying and reselling goods wherever you see the opportunity for profit. At least until the upcoming Tyrannis expansion, you can fill these out with NPC-seeded sell orders of trade goods like Uranium or Robotics, which often have NPC-seeded buy orders for higher prices, even in the same region. If all else fails, you can export these items to high-security space, where they will fetch a nice markup, even only a single jump in.
5. Run A POS
Player-owned starbases are the key to doing big things in EVE Online.
Just be sure to put a ton of weapons on your POS and to not have too much valuable stuff in it at once. There are entire corporations devoted to scouting out poorly defended POS that have valuable modules. They will look for any of the following: insufficient weapons, large numbers of non-combat structures, particularly expensive modules that can be resold like advanced laboratories, "pinata" structures like corporate hangar arrays, mining POS on valuable moons that they want. They also look for telltale signs of POS being a POS newbie, like having a lab structure set up in a system that does not have any stations in which to store the blueprint safely in, meaning that they could potentially be looted from the structure if the POS were destroyed. Politically active POS gankers will also look for capital ship assembly arrays or POS belonging to their enemies, and will destroy them if possible.
The best bet is to have a POS that is out of the way enough to avoid most people looking for easy targets. A system within two jumps of high-sec is probably going to be noticed by a lot of people. The further you go from high-sec, the safer your POS is. Then, you need to have your POS be as armed as possible in order to discourage those that eventually do notice it from trying anything. Every spare bit of CPU and grid should have weapons crammed into it.
The rewards for all this hassle, however, are great. As of right now, a single reaction can produce over a million isk of profit per hour of operation, or more, with just the front loaded effort of setting up the POS and keeping it fueled. And these scale up from there depending on how much effort you are willing to put in.
All in all, low-sec offers more rewards than it does risks. If nothing else, it offers access to danger, which can be a refreshing alternative to the tedium that sometimes afflicts high-security space. Good luck out there!