The biggest limiting factor in all of Elite, and the sole reason for its isolating nature, is the ability for players to connect in meaningful ways. Right now you can only join with a tiny group of 3 other players. Anything more and you have to figure out which instance the other 50 of you are floating around on. It makes the huge expanse of space even more isolating because you as the player consciously know there is nobody else out there that you should bother to care about...so what's the point of warping to the next yellowish-red sun?
Without anyone else to share in the exploration or danger or mystery or discovery, there is no satisfaction to gain because you are constantly exposed to the procedural game engine staring you in the face. There is supposedly an entire civilization with BILLIONS OF PEOPLE living on the planet beneath you and on the multitudes of stations dotting the systems, but all of it means jack if it is just implied via a news bulletin or repetitive vehicle animations.
I can only hope that Frontier will eventually bring the capability onboard to allow players to engage en-mass with matchmaking via friends lists and organisations. Even with a galaxy 40,000LY across, that little planet you've just exploited for billions of space credits could be the most amazing fun you've had in years. All because you were able to collaborate on something without the instance server spitting in your face.