I find the starting phase perfect as is - the interesting part is not knowing which systems hold greater findings. Makes each decision meaningful and exciting. This is also why its called exploration phase, need to explore the surroundings
I would additionally put forward the idea that this is also the case for mid and late game: the trick is to always have unknown aspect within the game such as in case of diplomacy. We should never be certain what another AI is going to do.
It is fine to have feedback and see they are generally friendly, but they should also declare war from time to time even when friendly and break up alliances (I had these event quite frequently since the latest diplomacy updates and makes the later game phases vastly more interesting)
This is why I am also missing the harpy and pirate invasions - these introduced random uncontrollable elements into the mid-game that have kept the player on toe even in regions that were generally safe from other empires
Admittedly I almost never save-scum in any game and expect to loose some games to make things interesting upon further replays.
A bad start can set you back true but not completely destroy a game if the player knows how to keep low though.
As long as the system description generally holds true and there are only few exceptions (if system says it probably has planets, it should have something 80% of the times) I would prefer the unknown
Also note: hitting a bingo on the first system and catching a good rhythm on the 2nd colonization is the highlight for me in the early game - its all part of the race to gear up for the first encounters and if you have bad luck at the start it is all the more exciting to catch up