The early game is a bit slow. Being slow serves a good purpose, however, by keeping semi-new players from attacking new players too quickly. However, I think there may be a reasonable way to speed things up a little:
Remove all “free” fuel. It’s not just lying around on planets anymore and must be mined up. It’s pretty low in the research tree so you can start getting fuel quickly but for your first couple of days it will be hard to go forth from your homeworld with any speed. Getting the fuel together for a fast colonization will take some work.
Instead, though, you get more starting cash and starting resources. You are meant to focus on your home system and get that jump started. Once you have fuel mines going then you will be able to more freely scout and colonize outside your system.
Currently the game encourages early outside scouting and colonization since fuel is laying around everywhere but the start is slow due to lack of money and resources.