New Eden, in all its beauty and complexity, has a myriad of environments open to pilots, from the relatively safe havens of trade and shipping in high-security space, to the ruthless pirate backwaters of lowsec. All have their own unique strategies and game play involved. When I started playing, I scoffed at this sort of talk, thinking “space cant be that different surely?” But the simple answer is: yes; yes it can.
The security of the system you’re in is shown as a number in the top left hand corner of your screen, along with the system’s name, the constellation, and the region you’re in. This “system security” ranges on a scale from -1.0 to 1.0, though no system has a sec status of exactly zero.
1.0 – 0.5
High-security space, Highsec
0.4 – 0.1
Low-security space, Lowsec
-0.1 – -1.0
Null-security space, Nullsec, Zero Zero
Besides these three, there is wormhole space, also known as J-space, or Anoikis. J-space systems cannot be found using stargates; they are joined to New Eden, and to each other, by a complex network of ever-changing wormholes, each of which can be found only by scanning with probes. These systems always have a sec status of -1.0, but they are not the same as nullsec space – they are far more dangerous.
Each highsec system is owned and controlled by one of the four main factions of New Eden. Highsec space is found in the centre of galactic map, and is where new capsuleers first enter the game. From the start, a pilot is free to move through highsec as they wish; the ownership of highsec systems is fixed and cannot be disrupted or influenced by players.
Any pilot engaging in unlawful combat within high sec will trigger CONCORD ships to warp to their location, intervene, and exact revenge upon the aggressor. CONCORD cannot be escaped, killed or countered; they are a unstoppable tool to enact lawful retribution upon wrongdoers. CONCORD forces stand ready to respond to capsuleer combat anywhere in space, in all highsec systems; the higher the sec status, the faster CONCORD will intervene.
Nikita van Thrasy is going about her daily business, moving her industrial supplies through the high-security system of Emrayur in the Amarr Empire Region.
Suddenly she is attacked by another player, Drang Dax. In this unprovoked attack, Drang Dax has committed an illegal act and is temporarily flagged as a criminal. While he has a criminal flag, anyone can freely engage him, and CONCORD will arrive in moments to exact justice. As the system of Emrayur is security status 1.0, the response of CONCORD will be swift as well as deadly. Drang Dax fails in his attempts to kill Nikita Van Thrasy, and loses his ship to CONCORD forces as a result of his piracy. Nikita Van Thrasy has escaped unharmed, and with her cargo and ship intact is free to move on.
High-security space is not safe by any means: CONCORD provide retribution, not protection, and even this is not always guaranteed. An aggressor can declare war on a corporation by paying a fee – essentially a bribe – to CONCORD, to look the other way whilst capsuleers wreak havoc upon each other. Once a war declaration (wardec) is paid for, after a period of 24 hours, CONCORD will allow the two parties to fight without intervening; the war is only over once the aggressor decides not to pay the weekly fee.
Highsec is home to a very large proportion of EVE players; most of the trade and a lot of the industry of New Eden happen here. It’s also a good place to make isk; high-level missions and incursions can provide a good income stream if you have the skillpoints needed. But a lot of the greatest EVE adventures take place in more dangerous territory.
Low Security Space
Immediately encircling highsec is low security space, or lowsec. These systems are still owned and regulated by the Empires, and as in highsec, they cannot be claimed by players, corporations or alliances. In certain regions of lowsec, corporations can participate in faction warfare, fighting for control over systems on behalf of the Amarr, Caldari, Gallente or Minmatar. Unlike highsec, Capital ships can enter lowsec freely, and moon mining is possible. However, the most important difference from highsec is in the security response from CONCORD.
Unlawful attacks here will not get a response from CONCORD ships, but stationary gun installations on stargates and stations will still attack the aggressor. Elsewhere in a lowsec system, there is no retribution for crimes, but aggressive acts still lead to a drop in the pilot’s security status.
Drang Dax and Nikita van Thrasy are in the lowsec system of Teshkat in the Amarr Empire. Nikita once again just wants to transport her cargo and be on her way, but Dax has other plans.
Drang engages Nikita on a stargate, and immediately gains an criminal timer, but he also attracts the attention of the sentry guns. These guns are under the control of the Amarr Empire and will continue to fire on Drang until his ship is destroyed or he warps away. Unlike CONCORD ships, the damage from the guns can be mitigated – but this time, Drang is not so lucky. The sentry guns do not engage Nikita, and give her the edge in the fight, saving her from certain death. Drang Dax’s security status is lowered; if his security status reaches -5.0, then anyone can legally attack him, even in highsec.
Lowsec is a great place to go looking for trouble – whether in an organised group in faction warfare, or as a free-wheeling pirate. Some of the deadliest PvPers live here, and there are ninja miners, explorers, even brave mission runners lurking, waiting for their chance to make good isk while the local pirates are looking the other way. Life here can be tough, but it’s rarely dull.
Null Security Space
Moving further away from the relative safety of highsec, you will eventually reach nullsec space. After highsec, these are the most densely populated regions on average, but some systems are all but deserted, while others are a hive of activity. Here, players band together in alliances, sometimes numbering thousands of players, and use their combined power and assets to occupy and control constellations or whole regions of nullsec space. Once an alliance claims sovereignty over a system, it can install infrastructure to locate minerals or pirate installations more easily, cynosural jammers to help protect the system from attack, or jump bridges to move swiftly through their sovereign space.
Drang Dax finally spots his nemesis Nikita Van Thrasy jumping into the null sec system of XHQ-7V, and decides to pursue – but this time, Nikita is ready, and opens fire on Dax at the gate. In this fight there are no sentry guns and no CONCORD response, it is a simple fight to the death between the two.
By firing, Nikita starts a weapons timer, meaning she cannot jump or dock for 1 minute. During this minute Dax can choose to retaliate, or burn back to the gate and jump out of the system. He chooses to engage and starts his own weapons timer. At last Drang Dax succeeds manages to destroy Nikita’s ship. Both pilots take no security status penalty, as the jurisdiction of CONCORD does not extend into the reaches of null sec space.
Certain technologies can be used only in nullsec space, the most important of which is warp disruption fields, or “bubbles”. These can emanate from small static structures in space or from mobile Heavy Interdiction cruisers (HICs), or they can be launched by Interdictors. With a couple of exceptions, any ship or pod inside a bubble is unable to warp; this makes them very dangerous for pods, especially when combined with the next special nullsec technology.
Bombs can be launched from stealth bombers, which are usually flown in groups. The bombs detonate with a large area of effect, and can be deadly to fleets in the hands of a skilled squadron, but some defensive strategies can mitigate their effects.
Nullsec is a great place to be a part of something bigger: holding territory gives you and your alliance something to fight for, and wars over sovereignty give rise to some of the huge battles that have made EVE famous. But it’s not the wildest or most dangerous space in the game.
J-space systems operate similarly to null sec in that CONCORD have no interest what you do here. The use of bombs, bubbles and capitals is allowed, and player corporations and alliances can reside in them. However unlike nullsec a player corporation cannot claim a wormhole system as their own, so system upgrades are not possible. The wealth available to skillful players in wormhole space can be vast, with unique resources for mining and exploration, and the most precious technology guarded by the deadly Sleeper drones. However, the dangers are greater here than anywhere else; unlike all other systems, in a wormhole the “Local” chat does not show who is in the system – so a hostile ship or fleet can decloak and attack at any moment. A few new players make their way into wormholes, especially for short visits – but most players move in here only when they can fly a wider range of ships. Wormholes are complex, dangerous and very different – an exciting destination, but one for a different article.
New Eden offers pilots the choice of where to fly. Your challenge is to find a home that suits you; remember that being a small fish in a big pond doesn’t mean you have to swim in the same direction as everyone else. Fly safe, pilot.