When Cetus and the Plains of Eidolon were released, they came with the ability to build Zaws, your own, somewhat custom melee weapons. When Fortuna and the Orb Vallis came along, the ability to build Kitguns, DIY secondaries, were also included, as was the ability to build your own MOA companion. If the tradition carries on, I fully expect the next open area to have a collection of make-your-own rifle and shotgun parts, and the open world after that will probably have pet cloning facilities and custom Sentinels.
Right now though, it’s mostly just Kitguns and Zaws. Secondary weapons and melee weapons. Both are good in their own ways.
Building your Kitgun or Zaw is simple. You simply farm up a ton of standing with your respective syndicate (i.e. Cetus or Solaris United) then go to your Zaw or Kitgun salesman (Hok or Rude Zuud) and buy the components you want. Each custom weapon consists of three parts – grips, barrels and stocks for Kitguns and Strikes (pointy bits), Grips (holdy bits) and Links (dangly decorations) for Zaws. You then have to take those blueprints back to your ship and craft them, using resources from your respective location (the Plains of Eidolon or the Orb Vallis). Once they’re built, which takes an hour per item, you take all three bits back to your Zaw or Kitgun salesman (Hok or Rude Zuud again), give them the pieces and they’ll give you your weapon. Assuming you have weapon slots available.
Of course, that’s only half the story. You need to level up your brand new weapon. But if you want to earn Mastery for it, you will need to take your level 30 weapon back to Hok or Rude Zuud and get them to gild it for you. Gilding allows you to forma a weapon, give it a name and lets you customize the colours. It also resets the weapon back to zero, so you’ll have to level it up back to level 30.
It all sounds a bit complicated, but Kitguns and Zaws can be some of the most powerful weapons in the game, due to being able to build around various ups and downs. You can build a Zaw that specifically deals with high crit chance and speed and almost no status chance for a Blood Rush spin-to-win build or you can go for high damage and status chance for a neat Condition Overload build. With Kitguns, you can go from one-shot hand cannons to spray-and-pray inaccurate messes of bullets if you want. The effort required to build Kitguns and Zaws is often worth it, if you work out what’s best.
There’s some catches though.
The first catch is that you can’t take apart your gun once you’ve built it. Once you’ve stuck the thing together, you’re stuck with it. It was like that from the start with the Zaws, but all the people who hoped that the DIY weapon system would change when Fortuna arrived were left disappointed. While it’s possible to preview various Kitgun and Zaw combinations without buying them, you’re still stuck with whatever you’ve built and bought.
On the flip side, if you do build a weapon you hate, you can sell it back to Rude Zuud or Hok for standing. Not much standing though. About a third of the cost of the gun, if it’s not gilded, or about half if it is. It all depends on the parts you use. Considering how costly the parts are to build in the first place though, it does feel like you’re getting ripped off, especially since you will need higher ranks to access higher materials to build the parts in the first place.
Really, the trick is to research what you want to build and play around with the previews before you start spending resources on building them. Zaws and Kitguns are amazing, but you really need to take your time on them.
The other catch is that the best Zaw parts are locked away behind Operation Plague Star. The Plague Zaw parts are all amazing, and it sucks that you have to wait for a very uncommon event to be able to obtain them.
Luckily though, Kitguns don’t have the same issue.