My character in Star Wars: The Old Republic is now level 20, and is flying around in his own spaceship. The first function of this is to get from one zone to another, which each zone being a "planet". The big advantage of having planets as zones and spaceships as transport is that all zones are equidistant from all other zones. EA Bioware can add planets without worry on where to fit them on the map. And while the planets are big enough to make walking from one end to the other feel long, at least you don't have to walk through several zones to get to your destination.
The second function of the spaceship is a space combat game, a Star Fox like rail shooter. You can move left, right, up, and down on your screen, but where you move does not influence the path your spaceship takes. Instead that path is predetermined, "on rails", and you just move to avoid obstacles. You also click on things to shoot them. There are various missions available, where you earn xp and "fleet commendations" by flying through such a level on rails and fulfil objectives like shooting down certain enemies or escorting an NPC ship.
I managed the first three space combat missions, but am not doing too well on the higher level ones. I have level 1 upgrades, but better ones would probably be better for somebody like me who isn't very good at twitch games.
And there is the rub: Space combat is a completely separate game inside the game, which has very little to do with the rest of the MMORPG, and requires very different skills. There are some links between the games, like the space combat giving you xp, or your character level determining what spaceship upgrades you can buy. But you could just as well just ignore the space combat part if you don't like it. It feels very much like a separate game, something else to do if you happen to be bored. Nice enough, but not really a revolution to the genre.