To be a fair comparison vs. original elite you would have to erase all of your accumulated knowledge of strategy, flight/dogfighting skills and tactics, docking, trade, etc., everything you've learned about the game over the years/decades.
I have all of those benefits when I start a new commander in oolite and yet the game is much harder. It was hardly a scientific test but the results were pretty striking and I'm extremely confident that were I to try again they would be very similar.
But I'd tend to agree that oolite is harder.
It's not just harder, it's slower. If you failed your first docking attempt in elite (as I did all those years ago) then you could be back at the station attempting the same within two or three minutes, that usually takes considerably longer in oolite.
Also if I get jumped by 8 pirates as a new commander then all of my experience can't help me. Don't go to Diso? Ok but it still won't help me much when I get jumped by half as many in Zaonce. I can't ever remember bring jumped by 8 in elite (maybe thargoids in witchspace) 3 or 4 seemed to be the limit and in my little play test it was 1.
Maybe you should try it for yourself?
I'm all for flexibility and for every player playing the game the way you want. But I maintain that neutering the start-of-game difficulty will not bring in hoards of new players and contributors.
I don't think anyone's expecting hoards to arrive but these boards do appear to show that new players (new to elite as well as oolite) do occasionally show up and sometimes find the game frustratingly difficult to the point of quitting - not because they don't like this kind of game but because they don't see any real progress from their efforts. Getting lucky dodging pirates only for them to show up later, seemingly randomly, to outnumber and outgun you in a 'safe' system is brutal.
As for neutering, it would be an easy option, not a diktat to every player. Maybe some like to play it a bit easier.
Everyone seems stuck on the "elitist" topic but that's not the way of it at all. It's pragmatic: people come to oolite from history with elite, I would venture a guess that the vast majority of them do so. It is a trip down memory lane. Oolite will appeal to those to whom elite appealed: open game play, huge universe, and yes, difficulty. If it weren't difficult it wouldn't be fun, or it would become boring soon. Why else are there so many OXPs that create harder opponents?
It's only a trip down memory lane if you played elite in the first place. Open game play? Once you get some credits under your belt yes (elite was similar). Huge Universe? Not so much these days but close enough. Difficulty? It's in a entirely different class from what I can tell.
Yes there are OXPs to make things harder but there are also plenty that make it easier too.
How will they even know how or where to use the injectors? The torus drive? The ECM?
I don't think it's too much to ask that they scan the one or two pages (I forget) of controls. If they didn't when they started then once the first missile hits then I think they likely would.
Missiles are also much faster in Oolite BTW.
There are so many easy ways to die: accidentally firing on a station or a police viper (lesson learned: fly with weapons off unless you're in a dogfight and be sure of your target in a furball), collisions in dogfights (lesson learned: keep your distance), docking of course, earning fugitive status (scooped contraband and forgot to sell before launching). Is the "beginner start" doing to deal with *all* of these? Even assuming that one could wave a magical wand and make all of these conditions somehow less fatal, I will continue to argue that what you'd be left with would not be a game worth playing and the beginners (with no elite history) many seem to want to court would leave from boredom
Yes some of those things are mistakes you'll only make a few times but attacked by 8 pirates in a democracy with no obvious in game indicator of why? Try elsewhere and still get jumped by 4? Lesson learned? I'm not sure it is unless the lesson is that extremely hard opponents can find you anywhere.
Oolite is brutal and many like it that way - that choice is not under threat, just its status as the only choice.