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Lost Ark Stronghold guide: How to unlock, level up, and more

Like most MMORPGs, Lost Ark gives you the option to partake in player housing. However, instead of giving you a single building to take care of, you’re tasked with running an entire island filled with vendors, NPCs, and numerous structures. It also confers a wide variety of benefits to your characters and can even be used to level up alternate toons while playing on your main account.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by Lost Ark‘s Stronghold, you’re not alone — it’s arguably the most complex system thrown at you prior to hitting endgame. Here’s everything you need to know about your Stronghold and how to maximize its potential in Lost Ark.

Further reading

What is the Stronghold in Lost Ark?

Player at top of a building in their Stronghold.

The Stronghold is your own private oasis in Lost Ark. You’re free to customize it as you see fit, place decorations or structures, and hold events with your friends. It’s a bit like an expanded form of player housing in other MMOs — and it plays out a lot like a mobile strategy game, as crafting and building can be sped up using certain types of currency.

Crafting is the big draw of Lost Ark‘s Stronghold, as it gives you a way to acquire powerful items without dropping much cash. You can also build or craft a variety of items that grant you passive attribute boosts, which can be particularly useful to high-level players.

In short, the Stronghold is Lost Ark‘s version of player housing that also offers a variety of crafting and cosmetic options.

How to unlock the Stronghold in Lost Ark

New players will need to clock significant gametime before unlocking their Stronghold. It’s given as a reward for completing the quest, Clerk Theo’s Invitation, which you’ll probably discover around level 25. The mission is given to you automatically as part of the main quest, so just keep grinding away and you’ll eventually reach it.

Managing your Stronghold

Once you’ve unlocked your Stronghold, you’ll be given a (brief) introduction to all its features. You’ll also learn the Song of Hearth and Home, which can be used to quickly travel to your Stronghold. Lost Ark speeds through the tutorial at a breakneck pace, so there’s a good chance you missed some of the content available on your island — most of which is hidden in the Management menu.

To access this content, click on the Management icon at the bottom of your screen. This will open a new hotbar at the top of your screen with the following options:

  • Lab
  • Workshop
  • Station
  • Manor
  • Training Camp
  • Knowledge

This is where you’ll spend most of your time while at your Stronghold. Here’s a closer (and expanded) look at everything in the Management tab of the Stronghold.


The Stronghold's Lab menu.

This is where you’ll upgrade and unlock new components for your Stronghold. This includes unlocking new ship types, new items for crafting, or adding additional slots for research. It’s without a doubt the most important building on your island, and one to check on as often as possible. Researching new features takes time, so make sure you’re keeping a close eye on its progress and collecting your reward as soon as it’s available.

Keep in mind that some features are the Lab are restricted until it has sufficiently leveled up.


While the Lab lets you expand the facilities on your island, the Workshop lets you add new items to your inventory. Potions and tools are the most common items you’ll be crafting here, although a variety of endgame resources will also be farmed through your Workshop. Start using it as soon as possible, so you can become an expert by the time you hit level 60.


The Station is a bit different from the Lab and Workshop. Instead of building new items or resources, your Station lets you send a crew to explore Arkesia and return with rewards. You’ll need to first unlock crew members and a ship, but once that’s taken care of, you’ll be able to send them out on missions. We’d recommend using the Auto Formation function on the right side of the screen, as this will optimize your crew and give you the best chance at finding rare items.


Stronghold's Manor menu in Lost Ark.

Your Manor gives you the ability to equip certain items to earn a variety of passive stat boosts to activities performed in your Stronghold. Some of these effects include reduced Action Energy for certain actions or improving your crafting speed.

Training Camp

Lost Ark won’t let you use the Training Camp until you’ve hit level 52. Once it’s unlocked, you can use it to passively train alternate characters on your account. There are limitations (you can only level alt-characters to one level below your main character) and it takes quite a bit of time, but it’s an easy way to build up a stable of high-level characters.


This is similar to the Training Camp, as it gives you a way to level alt-characters. It’s unlocked after completing the Nothing is Impossible for Cykins quest and lets you boost a character to level 50 by spending Gold.

What is Action Energy in Lost Ark?

Action Energy is an in-game resource that is time-gated. In other words, you’ll have a set amount of Action Energy you can use every day and it will slowly replenish every 24 hours. The resource is consumed when performing actions in your Stronghold, such as crafting, researching, or sending a crew out on a Station mission. Keep a close eye on this, but don’t get too overwhelmed — newcomers typically don’t have enough content available for them to run out of Action Energy. If you become a Stronghold expert, however, you’ll need to carefully decide which tasks are the most important and which can be pushed to another day.

Leveling up your Stronghold

Your Stronghold will automatically level up as you use it. Completing Station quests, crafting items, and performing research are all great ways to speed up your Stronghold XP gains, although just about everything on the island will contribute to your level in some way. Because everything you do costs Action Energy (which is replenished and restricted in real-time), it’s in your best interest to start working on your Stronghold at an early level. If not, you’ll be playing catchup with everyone else by the time you hit endgame.

Trade Merchants, Feasts, and more

Lost Ark player harvesting wood.

While the above features are the main reason to keep an eye on your Stronghold, there’s a lot more than those six menus to discover. Feasts, Special Station missions, Trade Merchants, and even Resource Farms are all waiting to be unlocked. These are typically accompanied by a short tutorial segment once they’re available on your island, but here’s a quick look at some additional Stronghold features:

  • Feasts: Unlocked at Stronghold level ten, these let you craft consumable items that grant you a variety of powerful buffs.
  • Special Station Missions: After completing Ealyn’s Request, you’ll have the option to send your crew on these enhanced versions of Station quests. Instead of low and mid-tier rewards, Special Station Missions almost always reward you with premium, endgame items.
  • Trade Merchants: Time-limited vendors that set up shop on your island. Swing by often to see if there’s anything of interest in stock.
  • Resource Farm: Unlocked by completing A Verdant Land This gives you a dedicated location for Trade Skilling, with an abundance of resources available that can be used on your Stronghold.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a freelance journalist whose gaming addiction began with the SEGA Genesis. His work has been published on…
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