Under the new system, players still earn EXP. That EXP will be spent on specific upgrades at a player's discretion rather than marking off specific levels, allowing you to unlock the upgrades that feel relevant in the order you want them. It also places less emphasis on levels in head-to-head matchups, something Macauley stresses is important to the team.
There's more than just the removal of levels at work, however; the development team is also overhauling crafting to be more complex and rewarding as well as developing a new system of equipment tiers to keep players advancing. The full diary just past the break only gives brief glimpses of several new systems, but Firefall fans should be quite happy with what's over the horizon.