If Assassin's Creed III sits as high on your most-wanted list as it does on ours, you will be familiar already with its hooded hero Connor and American Revolution setting, as well as the tree climbing and wolf killing shown off more recently.
But E3 has still more to reveal on this latest Assassin's Creed, not least of all the full-blooded naval combat unveiled at Sony's press conference, which is item one of:
Five More Things in Assassin's Creed III That Are New and Nifty
1. Connor Gets a Ship
In the shouty naval scuffle of the E3 demo, we see Connor at the helm of a great sailing ship. He pilots the ship at speed over the clear blue waters of the Caribbean, commanding the crew to rake English enemy vessels with broadside cannons, swivel guns, and chain-shot, a type of cannon ammo used for slashing enemy sails.
When a storm arrives mid-battle, we see the fully dynamic weather system (also new) in play as well. The ocean turns choppy, big rolling waves throw the ship around, and the deck is alive with detail: enemy attacks leave holes in the gunwale and shards of wood on the floor, while busy crewmen fire the cannons, scurry out of deck hatches, and swab the poop deck, probably.
As exotic gameplay goes, it's executed with staggering care and looks a damn sight more fun than the tower defence minigame of the previous Assassin's Creed, or even the segments in earlier games that had Ezio briefly play with or inside a wacky invention of his buddy Leonardo. There are a couple of ship-based outings in the main storyline, says lead game designer Steve Masters, but lots more in side missions.
Connor's not just playing at captain in that blue nautical garb, either. The ship we see him steering is all his own, says Masters, and is acquired partway through the game's story.
2. Assassin Recruits Get Guard Disguises
Back on dry land, in a Boston-set portion of Assassin's Creed III, we see Connor summon four assassin recruits to his side, much as in Brotherhood or Revelations. New in the brotherhood's repertoire, though, is an ability that lets a recruit disguise himself in an appropriate guard uniform.
In the E3 demo, we see Connor's four recruits arrive dressed as British redcoats and form up as a walking cluster--exactly the kind assassins can hide inside. With Connor walking in the centre, posing as a captive, the apprentices can escort their master straight past real guards that would otherwise block the path or make trouble for unblended assassins.
3. You Get More Contextual Kills
Connor makes more inventive use of the environment than the assassins of previous instalments in the series. Specific bits of scenery and items lying handily nearby can now be used for contextual kills.
In Boston, we see Connor blending with civilians near a weapons rack before executing an unwary guard on it as he passes by. Later, on the docks, Connor lifts a bayoneted rifle from another rack, jogs up a ship's gangplank, and uses the bayonet to skewer a second unfortunate guard, before shoving a targeted victim overboard.
The oldest Assassin's Creed contextual kill of all, the grab-and-murder from within a hay bale, is also being rejuvenated. Hay bales can now be found being pulled around the streets on horse-drawn carts. Dive into one of these conveniently mobile bales, and you can grab-and-murder guards on the street as you drive past.
4. Buildings Get Sprinted Through
You may have heard previously that Connor can free-run through building interiors--a first for Assassin's Creed. E3 comes with some further clarification: Connor will vault through windows, on ground level or on upper storeys, and then straight out the other side.
The path through an interior is short and direct. There will be no hiding inside or rummaging through the occupant's stuff. These are shortcuts, not explorable--in this way, they are more like the chase-breakers of previous Assassin's Creed multiplayer portions than anything else, in that they are best used for losing a flock of guards in hot pursuit.
5. Multiplayer Gets Invisibility
Speaking of multiplayer, here's something on multiplayer: Assassin's Creed III debuted its player-versus-player combat on the show floor at E3, on the first competitive map not set in a city. This map was set on a crowded snowfield, with ships, snow banks, and big ridges of ice for climbing on.
The two multiplayer avatars in play were both feathered and moccasined Native American types, one male and one female, and each customised multiplayer loadout came with three selected abilities rather than the two of previous games, the third being reserved for a ranged attack.
Invisibility figured among the new abilities on offer for ability selection: a short burst of near-total invisibility that only gives you away with a slight shimmer, Predator-like, if you are sprinting around. It suggests some neat tricks to try in Assassin's Creed III's multiplayer suite, such as nipping into a hay bale, flipping on your invisibility, and then hopping out to catch the pursuing opposition player unawares as they make a beeline for the bale.'