The Plains of Eidolon brought with them a lot of content, a lot of which I never really got around to covering. One of the more prominent features was the ability to build your own weapons, using a combination of set parts. It’s a strange system, something that allows you to have a lot of creativity, but at the same time isn’t actually that creative.
Actually I take that back. Zaws can be kinda creative. But there’s work to be had.
First off, a Zaw comes in three parts. A pointy bit you hit things with (the strike), the blunt piece you hold on to (the grip) and a counterbalance that’s orange when everything else is black and green (the link). All of these are for sale from Hok’s Anvil on Cetus and require resources from the Plains to make. You can get the lower level parts at lower Cetus ranks, but there is honestly no reason to even touch Zaws until you are max standing and are considered kin. The lower tier links are all mediocre and have better versions available in higher ranks. But you’ll also need to spend a hefty chunk of Cetus standing buying the blueprints to refine the various ores you need to build Zaw components. And on top of that, you’ll probably want to get the best laser cutter so you can get more ores too. So you have a lot of work to do before you can actually get started building Zaws on a regular basis.
Once you’ve made your Zaw, you need to level it up. You can’t decorate it, you can’t put forma in it and you can’t put an Orokin potato in it. Your Zaw has lower stats than most pre-existing weapons and will most likely be very slow. Luckily, they do come with a stance slot with a polarity in it, so you can at the very least equip a stance mod you like. You can also put riven mods on Zaws, gilded or otherwise, the rivens corresponding to the strike of a Zaw.
If you want to actually want to make your Zaw into your own customizable weapon, you have to level it up to max level, then go and visit Hok and get him to gild it, costing 5000 Cetus standing and 2 Cetus Wisps (the annoying floaty things that spawn on the sides of lakes on the Plains). You get to give your Zaw a custom name (as long as it has no swear words in it, which is a shame because there are so many funny names you could give a weapon) and you are allowed to insert a single polarity into the Zaw, much like forma’ing it. The level of the Zaw resets but it gets a slight increase in stats. You can also recolour your Zaw once gilded.
It’s worth remembering that non-gilded Zaws DO NOT GIVE YOU AFFINITY AND DO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR MASTERY RANK. You HAVE to gild a Zaw to get the mastery.
The sad thing is, some of the better Zaw parts are actually unavailable right now. The Plague Zaw components (Kripath, Keewar, Bowkin and Akwin) haven’t been available for a long time, and these components are nigh impossible to come by unless you actually bought them during the Plague Star event. I was lucky enough to buy some, but I clearly didn’t buy enough, only one of each.
Compared to normal weapons, Zaws can be very hit and miss, requiring way more resources than normal weapons and even most prime weapons. On the flip side, each Zaw only takes a maximum of 3 hours to build. The strike, grip and link all only take an hour each to build, so once you’ve built up an ample supply of Plains of Eidolon resources, it can be a good source of easy mastery and affinity.
If you have platinum to spare, you can build ready made, already gilded Zaws from Hok himself, but these are randomized every day and honestly don’t often have good stats. Although rarely Hok’s specials might include unreleased parts. It’s worth checking every day while you’re in Cetus at least.
Still, the customization is rather… small. While there are about a thousand potential combinations, the majority of them will be no better than normal weapons, and the work required to make a good one might be too much, especially when it can be awkward trying to figure out what stats you want.
And really, since you can rename normal weapons for the small cost of 15 platinum, if style and fashion is all you want, you’re better off using normal weapons. Zaws don’t look the nicest, their counterweights sometimes seem to fall off and they’re just not as pretty as normal weapons.