What is fun to *you* in ED?

I think people may find this weird, but what I find "fun" in open-world games is this:

Following NPCs around.

Yup that's it. In Watch Dogs, GTA, Prototype etc etc, I would just randomly follow a stranger on the road and just keep following. Primarily I just wanted to see if he/she "had a life", does he/she go to the store, go home etc etc...

But 90% of the time I'm disappointed because the NPC is just "window dressing"... usually walks in a circle (big or small circle) around the same area(s).

Yes I even did that in the old 1984 Elite... and it started because of there - I had just exited a station, saw a Fer-De-Lance, and just decided to follow it... wondering if he was going to dock or hyperspace out etc.
I guess first and foremost, I absolutely love the flying/driving model. Handling my ship or SRV just "feels" brilliant so any activity that centers around that is enjoyable to me (e.g. Buckyball Racing, SRV racing and basejumping, that kind of thing). I also really enjoy marvelling at the sights this game has to offer so going out to see stuff is always good fun. On top of that, "believing" in what I'm doing in an immersive kind of way is also fun for me (so if I'm involved in a mission or activity that suspends my disbelief, then it's fun, but if it becomes repetitive or nonsensical and starts to remind me that it's all "just a game" then I tend to lose interest and switch to something else). I guess that's one of the reasons that being a fuel rat enhances my enjoyment. By generally always carrying limpets and a fuel transfer limpet controller and by keeping an eye on the IRC channel and being prepared to drop everything to attend a rescue I can truly believe that I'm part of a galactic voluntary rescue service (although alas, I don't get to do this as much as I used to - partly due to being in VR a lot of the time). It feels real to me, gives me a purpose.

I'll tell you one thing that's never struck me as fun and that's just focusing on an end goal of earning credits as fast as possible. What's credits? It's just a number that goes up. If you're gonna do that you might as well just play Candy Crush. Think about the goal you're working towards and ask yourself what you will do with it when you get there (most of the money I earn goes towards funding all the ships I lose when racing). I have also been saving for, and grinding a bit of Fed rep lately because I want (eventually) to get myself a Corvette. That's because I think it's a gorgeous looking ship and am looking forward to taking it out to capture some fantastic screeenshots and exploration videos (especially with the new camera suite). It's not in any sense an "end-game" for me tho, just one of my long term goals.
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Is your favourite thing in Elite really a basejumping squirrel?
Coming in for a landing - making planetfall, high-speed, inverted, FAOff, RoCOFF - It's all mad fun.

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1. Killing nubs
2. Killing explorers
3. Killing miners
4. Killing traders
5. Killing whales
Oh, you're one of THOSE...

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You forgot little girls with ice cones.
Does it really matter what someone kills little girls with? I mean, an icicle (ice cone), is a good choice of weapons.. no fingerprints left behind, as long it melts....
Really enjoying the responses so far!

Giving me great ideas of where to go.

One concept that is only beginning to dawn on me as being fun is the sense of scale this game projects. At first I was a little put off by travel times.

But after reading the harrowing thread regarding the rescue of CMDR Macedonica, I'm beginning to get a sense of the importance that scale has on the immersion factor.

Speaking of immersion, I really (really really) want to try out VR. That looks amazing.
ED in VR is certainly Amazing! However, half the time I need to refer to third party apps like EDDB, ED Discovery, EDSM or any of the plethora of others on my 2nd monitor... Then VR isn't so great. So I have gone back to regular view unfortunately :(

EDIT: I did order myself an eye tracker (Tobii 4C) recently, but this won't work on my 32" 4K monitor and even if it did, I sit more than a metre away from the screen (max distance is 95cm). So that went back sadly [knocked out]
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Fun to me is fitting out a brand new ship, taking it into combat, and laughing evilly as NPCs queue up to be swept aside in an orgy of fire and explosions :D.
Almost everything if it involves flying/driving or shooting stuff.

I have the attention span of a schizophrenic golden retriever! I often log in with a goal for my session but then fly out of the dock and immediately go 'ooo look at that lets go investigate!' and poof there goes my plan for the evening!

Only ED, the Elder scrolls games (not ESO!) and Sleeping dogs has had this effect on me and I love it!!
playing the BGS, in particular, help manage a faction present in 23 systems.

Which brings me to do just about any activity possible in the game, but infuses them with meaning and purpose.

Oh, and space ships. Flying space ships in VR. That, too. :D
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