There are many different features that make Path of Exile unique from other action RPGs. One of the biggest differences is the way items and currency work. Most games in this genre allow players to use gold to trade and purchase items from other players and vendors. In Path of Exile, players find currencies that allow them to modify and reroll stats, sockets and rarity of items. Understanding how all of these currencies work will help you get started. You will need these currencies to modify your gear to help you keep your stats on par with the difficulty and level of enemies you encounter. Read up on the different currencies and understand how each of them work and what their trade value is so that you can use them efficiently.
Path of Exile has a huge skill tree with over 1000 passive skill nodes, allowing players to diversify their play style. Each class starts on a different side of the skill tree and can branch out in any direction as they gain skill points through questing and leveling. The only catch is, you cannot simply respec your character whenever you make a mistake or want to change your build. There are orbs called Orb of Regret, which grant players 1 passive skill point respec. These orbs are somewhat rare and can be difficult to find so choose wisely. You can use the passive skill tree editor on the Path of Exile website to plan out your character's build. You will also find popular builds that have worked well for other players all over the internet. Be sure to do a little bit of research because if you build your character for only damage or go the wrong direction, you will have a very hard time fixing your passive skill points. This will greatly slow down the leveling process.
Gear up for your build. Finding the right gear can be difficult at times but if you use the proper currencies on your gear, you should be able to find a set that will work for you. You will also want to find gem combinations that work well with your build. Later in the game, resource management can become an issue if you are not careful. This will be an ongoing process and gear will need to be updated every 10 levels or so. Do not waste too many currencies on items that start out bad. Find a good starting piece of gear with the right stats or the right sockets and links and go from there. This will save you a lot of time and dissapointment.
There are many areas in Path of Exile that are good for farming experience. In act 1, many players farm "The Ledge" because there are large groups of slow moving zombies and it is a straight path from one end to the other, so you will not need to double back to find an exit. Act 2 farming can be done in "Fellshrine Ruins", where there are large groups of slow moving zombies and skeletons. Another good location is the "Dread Thicket" located in the "Pools and Streams". This area is a bit more difficult but will reward much more experience and sometimes a large chest at the end of the zone. Most act 3 farming is done in "The City of Sarn" and the "Docks". You can repeat these farming zones as many times as you need in each difficulty by resetting the instance each time you leave.
Playing in groups can make leveling much faster and easier. As you level in Path of Exile, you can create or join groups through the Noticeboard located in each of the towns throughout the game. Grouping with other players will increase enemy difficulty but will also increase the amount of loot enemies drop. Leveling up in groups will also give you access to other player's auras, buffs and ability diversity.
Once you reach higher levels in Path of Exile, you will be completing maps. These end game maps can be modified to increase difficulty, rewards, experience and monster level. Managing these and maintaining high level maps will keep you moving forward with your character progression. This is where the leveling starts to slow down and the end game content and loot begin.