What about the idea of an instant action mode? Most of the scenarios I envision you getting into will be as a result of semi-random encounters. What if you had VR pods that would allow you to face challenges in the game world quickly by getting in and out. If I can generate them as a result of you moving around on the map, it should be relatively easy to generate them in place when you activate some equipment.
You could do that as well, but I think the main fix would have to be simply giving players some information to base their decisions on. It shouldn't be "Should I go to planet a, b or c? I have no information to tell them apart", it should be "Should I go to planet a, which looks like this, planet b, where I might be able to do that, or planet c where I can meet this kind of people"
Give the player some basic info about what to expect from each planet. Tell the player which planet is the galactic capital, and which one has the mysterious old alien ruins, and which one produces cheap goods, or where to go to buy big nasty weapons.
Of course it doesn't have to be as detailed as that, and presumably you'd start out with some basic knowledge, and learn more as you visit the planets, but just make sure players can tell the planets apart.
That was my main problem in Morrowind. The npc's looked similar, the cities looked similar, and when standing in the wilderness, every direction looked similar. I had no information to base my decisions on.