As someone who's played SF and completed the main story and some of the big faction missions. You're not missing out on much. There's a lot of glaring flaws and comes with its fair share of jankiness. But the theme just isn't as interesting nor as diverse as interactivity goes with NPC's - as in its only humans really. Though there is fun found in there, its just Bethesda tried to cram so much in an old engine and tried to make huge, like the next Skyrim. But doesn't pull it off all that well and comes accross a scope crawl where there's a lot of content on the surface level, but delve in deeper and it seems about as deep as a puddle. When you have basic and dumb ai that stares at you and doesn't respond as you'd find in even their older games and daft enemy ai in combat its all a bit yeah, seen there done that. But now its in space and perhaps even more dumbed down.
Then you have the copy paste and rng aspect of it and mid story and yeah. It'll get better with patches and mods but not so much that it will dramatically transform the game. And if you're in it for space exploration, this isn't the game. Its basically a Bethesda title in space, with all the perks and cons but with a lot of closed biomes and a shit load of loading screens. In a way it reminds me of Halo Infinite where you'd have huge amount of space(s) in a massive map but there just isn't very much to do in them. Where before you'd have carefully crafted maps and level design this is just rng with rocks, foliage and buildings rng'd without much thought making it seem the game is bigger than it really is. Where in other BGS games exploration is rewarding and interesting there's none of that in here. Just feels a bit souless and made to pad out the game and for marketing.
Wait, you managed to do the main story already?.
Even back when I was playing Skyrim, it took me a few days to more or less finish the main story (even though the Parthanax Q is incomplete).
I've seen one user I recently started watching, and his endeavour with one NPC was funny for a watch, though he was baffled by the fact he had little choice in dialogue (let alone changes to the NPC's behaviour and somehow said NPC kept forgetting that they had the exact same convo moments ago made me chuckle).
Atm I'm seeing a mix of folks who are amazed by the vistas of the planets (those showing off multiple screens of said vistas), and those who like exploring, but are disappointed in finding planets that are straight up barren. I've also seen some people comparing this to Skyrim, in that some wish SF had Skyrim's hand crafted approach, where the content was scattered about the map, but it meant that the player always had something to look for or adventure towards.
I would have thought that with the self generated approach, that they would mix aspects like prefabs with the self made planets, to at least give players more to explore per planet, even if it's nothing tied to the main story, it'd at least be better than landing on a planet that is devoid of anything at all.
I'm not likely to grab SF tbh, especially seeing as how my hw is unlikely to run it well enough, but I was never really grabbed by the game since it's day 1 announcement/gameplay reveal. I liked Prey, but that was more of a linier action game set in space. I like NMS/Starbound because those 2 games allow for free roam exploration/base building (though NMS actually allows for ship to ship combat, whilst Starbound doesn't, you can only invade ships in that game).
That being said, I do wish people would stop taking offence to the game's shortcomings and just see the game for what it is, not what it was hyped up to be, or the brand studio behind it (people lauded Witcher 3 and then 2077, but then CDPR shat the bed and now that rep with their brand is tarnished, so people shouldn't let themselves get over-hyped anymore). People seem to think those criticising BGS or SF, (like myself) hate the game, but that isn't entirely true. There are some that flat out dislike it of course, but then there's folks like me who weren't caught in by the hype, didn't have the tinted glasses slapped on since day 1, and were able to step back and see what could have been done better, or what was missing.
Even you, someone that has played the main story, and put hours into the game are able to see what is there and what is not, without being the branded form of "hater". People just need to stop attaching their personalities/lives around a mere game (Like I really love Starbound for example, and yet hardly anyone on this forum gave a care for it when I droned on about it years ago, and I came to terms with that).
What I don't get, is that the past 5 or more years, we've been seeing these RPG games adding guns into the mix, and then of course the RPG aspect overrides the realism of using a gun, so enemies end up becoming bullet sponges, and I know that more or less was a thing for Fallout 3, but it's weird to see this with SF and other games like Destiny 2 (even though that falls into MMO and MMO's basically get that bullet sponge free pass for what they are) having this (especially when I've seen players with space age guns in SF vs people on a colony ship with guns that are practically 20th century based).