Lowsec is a special place in Eve. Shunned by most of the populace, it lies in the shadows between the light of empire and the nightlife in null. It's Eve's own Twilight Zone.
On the surface, lowsec doesn't seem like that great of a place to make a home. Dirty pirates everywhere trying to spoil the fun in underhanded ways, coupled with FW “noobs”that seem just as eager to shoot anything that moves as cloak up their stabbed plexing ship at the first sign of trouble. None of the safety of empire space, nor the creature comforts of sov-held null. Most PvE activities in lowsec are trumped by equivalent activities in null, with arguably less risk. I mean, hell... you can't even Doomsday out here.
When Inferno was released last June with the Factional Warfare overhaul, my two-corp alliance was one of may groups to jump into the fray head first. We'd been trying our hand at highsec wardecs - getting our feet off the ground and our pilots in fighting shape. A lot of us had experience fighting out in null, both in sov wars and NPC 0.0, and were looking for a change. FW seemed like a great place to find more fights with less docking games, so off we went, and we've never looked back.
FW is billed as a training ground for new pilots to get into PVP, and while there are certainly a good number of newbies flitting around, it's a hard life for those guys. With every week old character viewed as a likely spy, breaking into the thick of the real war is difficult at best, and many will quit from boredom or frustration before ever getting a chance to make a difference. Those that possess the patience and perseverance to get in the few open fleets available, and catch the attention of a decent corp, get the opportunity to break into another dimension of the conflict entirely.
At their cores, every one of the faction militias is made up of some VERY experienced EVE pilots. The guys that log in every night and FC successful fleets could easily find themselves the equals of many well-known nullsec FCs - in fact, that's where some of them got their start. The mechanics of getting around and the fleet comps are a bit different than you'll find out in null, but there's something to be said for a guy that can lead 40 frigates to total victory over a 20 man BC gang. I've seen it happen.
And that brings us to the WHY of it all. I won't pretend to speak for everyone out here, but I can tell you with some certainty, that for many, it's the amount of action available. I've spent some time out in null, sitting on a titan for an hour waiting for a 10 minute fight, or sometimes no fight at all. I've been on roams going 20+ jumps without seeing a single other ship outside of fleet.
As a FW pilot, I can log in RIGHT now and be sitting next to a smoking wreck in 5 minutes, mine or theirs, doesn't matter. My main adversary doesn't live 20 jumps away, he's right next door, and if our guys get lax and don't bring the fight to him, he'll sure as hell bring the fight to us. Apathy might swing the pendulum, but the guns fire on adrenaline. When the WTs are lacking, there'll be pirates out here too. The ones looking for the most action know exactly where to come get it, flying blinged out loot pinatas, slaughtering indiscriminately until they make a timely escape, or get hauled down by a militia puppy pack.
I hear that the action is just as thick in RvB. I've yet to fly with those guys, so I can't make too solid of a comparison, but I can tell you that I have no need of a main to supply me with isk and ships for my hobby. You might have heard some groaning about plex farmers in FW, cloaking up at the first sign of trouble in their triple stabbed ships, but that is really a small, if annoying part of the story. For every plex farmer, there are 2 or 3 pilots in a combat ready ship watching a timer, hoping, praying, for someone to “come at me bro!” All you need is a nice, well traveled system, no more than 1 or 2 friends, and a plex. Chances are fair to good that before the timer runs out you'll have a fight, or a gank on your hands. Fight or not, somewhere between 10 and 50 million ISK worth of LP are yours to compensate for time lost, which isn't bad at all considering what else you could be doing in EVE for 10 or 20 minutes.. and you could have 20 or 30 million in loot sitting in your hold as well by the end of it.
Action and the cash to support it is a sweet harmony in FW. For those pilots who know how to work the system effectively, losing a few ships is of hardly any concern at all as a billion or two ISK isn't hard to come by. If you're not completely accident prone, a bare few hours of running plexes a month is more than enough to keep up with losses and get a few fights, leaving the rest of your time to seek the big game that any PVPer in Eve craves... the Good Fight. Even a part timer putting 5-10 hours a week in FW can can count on getting on 100 kills or more in a month. The more hardcore pilots will be up in the 300-400+ kill range. All you need are a few friends, the right FCs, and a few well fit ships.