Re: @Robinson - OK but
"If you want to take the analogy to an extreme, people enjoy playing chess and draughts (aka checkers), and they have literally no built-in narrative."
OK so I will conceded the point about narrative in chess and perhaps I'm not the first-person centre of the universe in God games like Sim City (though I am God so I could argue that point if I had the time). What I'm arguing is that these other genres of game do whatever they do a lot better than Elite Dangerous does what it does.
Let me give you some examples. Freelancer had a single player campaign that really engaged the player. That was its "thing" (combat was fun too). X2 had a unique economic model and the ability for the player to run little scripts and remote control his assets. That was its "thing". Eve Online puts the massive into massively multiplayer and has a totally player run economy (some things still get seeded by NPCs of course). That's its "thing". Having a "thing" maintains the player's interest. So, what is Elite Dangerous's "thing"?
As far as I can see it doesn't have one. Perhaps it will in 2 or 5 years. But it doesn't today. Today it's a dreary galaxy simulator. So in 2 or 5 years time we can comment under reviews of expansion packs and we will no doubt say different things. But right now I'm calling it as the empty experience it is.