Nah...Elite Dangerous is way too easy compared to the first game. The first game took a ridiculous amount of dedication to get Elite status. With Dangerous it's too easy to earn credits so you can buy a high-end ship like an Annie really quickly by doing Community Goals, doing mining and bounty hunting in RESes and Nav Beacons and getting a wage from the navy and other services.
I keep on seeing people complaining about the grind but it's nowhere near as gindy as the first game. I'm playing Dangerous old-school, the same way you played the first one. Just getting money from trading, haulage and breaking things up with a bit of bounty hunting and mining every now and then. Am up to around 27 million credits now after more than a year playing like this lol