There are a few things to keep in mind while you are leveling, especially in the early levels. In the beginning of the game, you will go through the main quest, leading you to Meiville. This is your first main hub, and while it does have vendors and amenities, introduces you to side quests.
Side quests are marked by Green Exclamation (!) marks over NPC's heads. While these side quests are optional, they are very important in the leveling process. Most side quests are located at the hubs you will visit as you work your way through the Main Quest. This makes them easy to pick up, and because their objectives are typically located around those of the Main Quest, you can easily complete them, without having to travel out of your way.
In addition to looking out for Side Quests, keep an eye out for "Ancient Monsters" and treasure chests, while you're exploring the world around you. While they will not provide you with EXP, you will receive Ancient Fragments. These can be used to purchase some pieces of gear from the Ancient Fragment Merchants you can find in major outposts. Having higher grade gear will help you get through your quests more quickly and make your leveling experience easier.
At level 15, you can access your first Farming Dungeon. It will cost 2 dungeon tickets per entry, and you can run either solo or party versions. Completing the dungeon will give you a chance at improved gear, Astel Cards, and fodder for dismantling. Astel Cards will help raise the rating of your Astel, especially since going from 1-star to 2-star only requires four of that particular Astel's card. Once again, you will not receive a large amount of experience from dungeons, but the rewards will make your leveling experience faster and more pleasant.
Other useful items:
- HP and MP Potions - There are two types of HP/MP potions: instant and regen. While HP and MP potions share a cooldown, this cooldown is not shared between instant and regen pots. Additionally, while HP potions are great for keeping you going against tough or multiple monsters, MP potions will save you from having to rest between chain pulls to refill your mana bar. HP and MP potions can be purchased from the General or Misc. Merchant, or crafted with the Alchemy skill. They require herbs and roots to craft, which can only be gathered via Herb Gathering, or purchased from other players.
- Astel HP Potions - Like HP/MP potions, these come in both instant and regen, and will be very useful, especially if you're using a tank Astel, or fighting monsters with lots of AoE's. These can be purchased from the General or Misc. Merchant.
- Food - There are two types of food/drink. The first is used for HP or MP regen when out of combat. The second offers you a 30 minute stat boost. HP/MP regen food can be purchased from General Merchants, while stat boost food must be crafted. You can gather materials for food by picking them up off the ground, looting them from monsters, and purchasing them from Material Merchants. You do not need any gathering skills.