Unfortunately, Assassin's Creed III wasn't playable at PAX East 2012, but Ubisoft was showing a brief teaser video that showed off some of the upcoming sequel's features, putting new lead character Connor Kenway through his paces.
Because you're on battlefields, combat has changed. Instead of lone guards, there are massive armies of soldiers. Apparently, they can have up to 2,500 individuals in a crowd, and the soldiers will be programmed with real military strategies. And because of this new environment, you will sometimes be given an option as to whether to take a stealth path or an action path during a given mission.
Running and swinging through the trees looked just like leaping around buildings and flagpoles, and the narrator said that the designers were very insistent that it not look like you're Tarzan swinging through the jungle. There's also rock climbing, with multiple paths along the cracks. They also made sure that the trees and rocks all look organic and natural with no repeating objects.
The video demonstrated a new weapon called a Rope Dart, where you can throw it from a perch in a tree, hit your victim below and then string him up from the tree for a stealth kill. But since in the demonstration of it, the victim was part of a group, it led straight into a combat scene. Luckily, because of the primitive weapons, the guns will only fire once, so combat quickly became melee, and Connor was able to avoid their bayonets and take them down pretty efficiently.
As far as the assassinations go, the one they showed worked a little differently. First, you can move stealthily through what they called "stalking zones," areas of cover you can use to stay hidden. In this case, it was some trees and bushes surrounding an enemy camp. Then, the video demonstrated "assassin in motion," where Connor selected his target, but instead of stealthily dropping from above or something (hard to do when there's no tall buildings!), he instead charges through the soldiers in his way to reach his target and pounce. Of course, that's where the video ended, so I'm not really sure how you're supposed to get away after you take out your victim!
The graphics were impressive, and it really looks like the team has really thought about how to adapt the Assassin's Creed gameplay to this new, unexpected environment. And as concerned as I was about the new setting for Assassin's Creed III, what I saw still looked like AC... but with a twist. We'll just have to wait and see how it plays.