I was once a large fan of this series, sort of... almost... maybe. However, I haven't touched Assassin's Creed since there were pirates involved. This one, due out in October, is something of a soft reboot to the franchise. The plot I saw in the demo is that one Egyptian 'enforcer' is upset at a bunch of shady dudes are messing with stuff and is putting together a bunch of like-minded Greeks, Romans, and locals to investigate their shenanigans. No proper nouns, less wheels within wheels ancient conspiracy weirdness, just one grumpy dude shanking his way up a secret society.
In terms of gameplay, there are a lot of old elements that have been completely recontextualized. First off, Eagle Vision is now an actual eagle sidekick, he flies around tagging points of interest and revealing information. There's no mini-map, so no towers to climb, so all points of interest end up sitting on a top bar/compass. There's also crafting now; local fauna can be tagged for tracking, hunting and eventual harvesting. Bird-friend is pretty savvy and can tell you exactly how much of what items each creature will drop, saving on some gatherer problems. Any finished item can also be broken down into materials, so there's a lot of convenience features when it comes down to making murder implements.
I did get to take a look for the skill and perk tree for our new Assassin, it's really big. A lot of the descriptions seemed to be more passive perks that make the player's current range of abilities more awesome, but there were a few special moves and stat upgrades in the mix as well. The progression, seemed very broad, but the branches never seemed to have more than three points of depth; so expect to eventually unlock everything, but enjoy being able to play the mid game to your preferences and strengths.
Combat has also gotten a drastic rebuild; the biggest change is that the series signature hidden blade is context cue only weapon, for stealth kills and stunned foes, so so lurking with your thumb over the counter button to win the whole game. When it comes to straight fisticuffs, the Microsoft booth-bro was disturbingly quick to compare it to Dark Souls; he wasn't wrong, there was a great deal of dodge-rolling, a dedicated block/parry button and much circle-strafing to be had in my encounters. But the camera was actually fully-functional throughout and taking a mace to the face was pretty forgiving, so more Zelda-like than anything else.
I didn't get the chance to do much but run around the riverside looking for trouble, but that trouble was a pretty satisfying twenty minutes. It might be nice to revisit these sorts of adventures again.