Out in the open - so in the wilderness and in greener areas of cities - Connor will find 'stalking zones'. We see these used to great effect in our second demo, where our hero - in pursuit of some deer - drops out of a tree into a patch of shrubs. He crouches in the undergrowth, staying hidden, until he lines up a shot on the lead stag with his bow... but more on that later.
For now, it's all kicking off in Boston. Connor's in a fight he can't win after breaking cover and murdering a random Redcoat. The new combat system shows well inside the city: as well as flowing from one opponent to the next with a swinging Tomahawk, he also uses the new hidden blade (which is like a detachable switchblade) and interacts with the environment much more convincingly.
During one fight on board a huge galleon, moored in the Boston dock, Connor slams into an enemy sending him tumbling into the sea below. Another move that amuses us sees our hero swing at a burly looking enemy wearing a kilt, who promptly grabs his hand mid-swing and lands a beefy headbutt on Connor, staggering him. Stitch that.
Realising he's outnumbered, Connor makes a break for it to show off the new flee/pursuit system. He climbs a small building and runs along a washing line straight into... someone's bedroom, which he sprints through and hops out of the adjacent window while the woman inside screams in shock. It all looks so smooth.
While free-running and the counter-kill combat is something all Assassin's Creed fans will be accustomed to by now, we can't stress how natural and fluid it all looks, even when the screen is rammed full of other people and incidental details. Oh, and in case you're wondering, we saw the Boston demo running on a PS3 - not God's own PC.
With his pursuers shaken thanks to some fancy free-running, Connor - for reasons unknown - heads to the docks to commandeer a massive boat. Problem is, there are plenty of Redcoats guarding the area, and they're armed to the teeth. So he enlists a little help. Yes, the brotherhood is back, and this time they're smarter too.
Connor whistles for them and four immediately appear, dressed as Redcoats. They surround Connor, pretending to arrest him, then march his past the unsuspecting guards by the docks who even congratulate them on securing such a dangerous prisoner. Once inside, Connor slips onto the boat undetected. Brilliant.
The demo ends with our hero murdering everyone on the boat and climbing the rigging to get a good look at the city he just rampaged through. It's a beautiful sight. Boston has been recreated from old maps and documents, so it's a fairly accurate, 3:1 scale rendition of the C18 city.
During the course of the game we'll see both Boston and New York evolve over 30 years, and we'll see them during summer and winter. They'll be subject to dynamic weather too, bringing rain, fog, snow and sun to their ever-changing streets. This will be the most alive, most convincing Assassin's Creed yet.
THE DEER HUNTER
Our next demo takes place in the forest of New England, and Connor is hunting deer. They sprint through the snow, hopping delicately through the trees, but our hero is keeping pace by swinging through the branches above them with the same grace we witness in the Boston demo. They stop to graze, Connor drops into a stalking zone, whips out his bow, and takes down the stag. One-shot. Impressive.
As he approaches the beast to skin it, a pack of wolves show up, and Connor is forced to dispatch them using tomahawk and hidden blade. It's a neat moment, so we ask creative director Alex Hutchinson about during our interview. "The hunting system is definitely dynamic, and we're trying to get these magical moments and create them as systematically as possibly.