One of the handful of things The Division does not bother explaining to its players is the crafting table. This can cause a lot of people to basically ignore it for the entire beginning of the game. Luckily, the crafting options are far more exciting in the later stages than they are early on. And if you have been hoarding materials like fabric, tools and weapons parts, then all the better. But it can also be worth your while at a low level. Let's look at how to make the most of this unassuming mechanic and the peaceable little trooper working behind that desk.
What are blueprints?
Blueprints are required to craft weapons, armour and mods. Every side mission (the pale blue hexagons on your map) will earn you a blueprint of some kind - all of which are 'specialised'. This means they can be quite enticing for a low level player. Other blueprints can be bought from vendors. In the late game, the high-end vendor in your base and the special Dark Zone vendor (found in the northern-most quadrant of the DZ) will sell some of the best high-end blueprints for Phoenix credits, the special endgame currency. These are extremely desirable, and are arguably a far better investment than buying high-end weapons outright.
Just having the blueprint is not enough, however. You also need crafting materials - fabric, tools and weapons parts. These can be found scattered all over the place in the purple areas of your map, or gained through upgrades or deconstructing weapons. You should make some use of all these methods.
There are three upgrades to your Base of Operations that provide a trickle of crafting materials. The Medical Wing's Pharmacy gets you 1 fabric every hour, the Field Engineering upgrade in the Tech Wing gathers 1 'portion' of tools in the same time, and the Gunsmith in the Security Wing nets you 1 set of weapons parts. Sadly, these do not accumulate as the hours go by. The boxes fill with a single helping and stay like that until you collect. You would need to collect all three items every hour to get the most of this. Generally, I have found that if you are in the base for a short break, it is worth gathering them. But going back every hour on the hour is a chore for how little you receive. You will get far more material from dismantling all the junk you no longer want or need, which brings us to our next point.
Deconstructing weapons and gear
Breaking down the gear you do not want into tiny pieces is, by a long shot, the most efficient way to go about collecting materials. Get a big backpack and get into the habit of picking up all the crappy loot left behind by enemies. This way you will effectively get fabric, tools and weapon parts during the course of every fight and mission. To break down the items, go into your inventory and individually assign each piece of crap to 'Junk' (left trigger on gamepad, or the 'V' key). Once you've marked everything you don't want, hold down the button to deconstruct everything (L3 on gamepad, or the 'X' key). Do this as a matter of course and you will always have a decent supply of materials, even if you don't go off on scavenging runs all the time.
But that is only getting me standard materials.
The crafting dude says I need 'high-end' weapons parts!
Aha, do not despair. Yes, there are different types of materials, just like weapons and gear - Standard (green), Specialised (blue) and High-end (gold). BUT: you don't need to rely on scavenging the right colour of materials. The crafting table lets you make 'specialised' materials from multiple 'standard' ones, and so on - an action hidden at the very bottom of the crafting menu. For example, you can make 1 blue fabric from 5 green fabrics, and 1 gold fabric from 5 blue ones, and the same for all other materials. Basically, it works like a little production line. This is why gathering and deconstructing items is still useful, even at level 30.
What is Division Tech?
Now we're talking. Division Tech is basically a universal resource that can be used to craft any other material. It can be found in the Dark Zone but know that you need the Division Tech upgrade from the Tech Wing to use it. Once you've got that and collected some of the stuff, go to the bottom of your crafting menu where the resources live. Some resources will say "Fabric (Dark Zone)" or "Weapon Parts (Dark Zone)". These are the materials you can craft with Division Tech. The amount of tech required is displayed, usually converting at a rate of 2 Division Tech for 1 fabric/tools/etc. This makes Division Tech a great supplement when crafting. But know that it still comes in multiple flavours: standard, specialised, etc. And unlike other materials you can't build one flavour out of the other. Having trouble finding Division Tech? Upgrading your Tech Wing with the SatComms desk will reveal all the places you can find this good stuff on your map of the Dark Zone.
So how do you build a good weapon/mask/mod?
Basically, luck. Once you have the blueprint you want and all the materials, you will be able to build your Thing by selecting it and holding the space bar (or 'A' on gamepad). But the exact stats and talents it receives will often come down to chance. High-end named weapons will "roll" damage within the range displayed but they will have preset talents, like the Liberator, which always rolls the talents "Competent", "Dominant" and "Talented". Unnamed weapons, however (your AK-47s, your M1A Rifles) will roll both their damage stats and one to three random talents, depending on the condition of the weapon (eg. superior guns get two talents, high-end guns get three). The same rules more or less apply to pieces of gear, except that only high-end gear has talents, and only ever a single one of these.
The good news is: once you have the blueprint, you have it forever. You can keep building and rolling the same item for as long as your resources allow you, like a sad gambler at Vegas, just waiting for that perfect roll.
Even though the stats of any gear you get is mostly down to luck, you can still change the outcome after the fact. The Tech Wing's recalibration desk upgrade is one of the most useful things in your HQ. It allows you to re-roll a single attribute or bonus of each piece of gear (but not weapons). Be aware that this costs money and high-end gear can only be recalibrated with Phoenix credits - making any change to your best stuff a very expensive alteration. It is sometimes more affordable just to roll gold weapons again at the crafting table.
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