Assassin's Creed III's new hero, Connor, is a survivor. Previously, we've seen him hunting Redcoats in the snow-covered New England forest, and taking down Templars while a war wages between George Washington's revolutionaries and their British opponents.
Now, he's in Boston for Ubisoft's E3 demo, picking yet more fights and hunting yet more prey. And he seems just as comfortable murdering and free-running through bricks and mortar as he does through trees and snow.
The demo is typically Assassin's Creed. It begins with a sweeping vista of the city, before focusing in on the central character, Connor who immediately shows off one of the game's new features by diving into a moving cart, filled with hay.
Yes, now your free-running will include all kinds of fresh opportunities, like moving objects as well as the ability to pass through interiors (something we see later in the demo), and through the branches of trees, which grow inside and outside the game's two cities, Boston and New York. Following his first show-off, Connor then yanks a guard into the hay cart with him, as it rumbles by, and pulls off the world's first moving hay-pile assassination.
THE AMERICAN EVOLUTION
During the rest of the demo, Connor shows off the tweaks and changes to the core Assassin's Creed formula. Although senior producer Francois Pelland will later insist that AC3 is "to quote the marketing - a revolution" during our exclusive interview, what we see during the Boston playthrough is definitely 'evolution'. No bad thing. After the hay cart, Connor follows a woman down a side-alley after she begs him to free a prisoner from the town stocks.
Here we see our hero working in tandem with the AI population, who are much smarter and more purposeful in AC3. Connor hides down a dark, narrow street, pressing his back to the wall and showing off the game's new cover system. Meanwhile, the woman lures a guard towards him by hurling abuse. Sure enough, the Redcoat takes the bait and as soon as he passes by Connor's hiding place, he's taken down with a couple of brutal blows.
Anyone worried about the lack of stealth shown in the first few demos / trailers will be relieved to hear that we see plenty of the sneaky stuff in this Boston level. "It's true that it's a stealth game, because the core action is assassination," explains Pelland. "We want players to think - when they're working towards an assassination - that they need to be fairly stealthy".
Connor's next move is to climb into one of the trees growing inside the city, and use his rope-dart to hang another unsuspecting guard. For those concerned about there being too much killing in Assassin's Creed III - first of all, it's got the word 'assassin' in the title, so you know what to expect, but second of all you will be able to simply incapacitate rather than fully murder. No, we don't know why you'd want to either, but the option is there...
Next up, a bit of crowd interaction. During our presentation Ubisoft were keen to talk up how much work had been done making each person in the game feel - if not completely unique - as if they've got a purpose; a reason to be there. In previous games most have been drones, wandering the streets just waiting for a handsome young Italian chap to blend in with them.
In Boston everyone behaves differently, so blending is a little different. When he's wandering the streets Connor needs a denser patch of people to stay hidden, but the system works in a similar way to AC2 etc. Interestingly, instead of boring benches he can lean against market stalls and chat to the sellers. During our demo we see Connor lean against a fruit and veg stall, and make small talk with the owner as guards push past.