Ubisoft has often said they treated Assassin's Creed III like a brand new IP and to the fans, that philosophy is evident in much of the footage we've seen.
One of the most significant additions involves naval warfare; as many saw during E3, the developers have implemented story-driven sections that involve piloting a massive ship and engaging in intense sea confrontations. This represents a departure from the standard AC gameplay, but Ubisoft felt it was critical; as creative director Alex Hutchinson told OPM UK :
"We thought, ‘What is it about this period that makes it special?’ And it just came up again and again in the history that the navy was such a big part of it. It’s how you got to America. It’s how imported goods got to America. It was a key factor in dictating the outcome of the Revolution itself. All of these things kept telling us that this was a big deal, and you couldn’t do the Revolution justice without the sea."
Being a fan of the franchise, I only wonder exactly how these segments will play out. There's no doubt it'll be amazingly intense from all aspects, but it appears to be a combination of action and strategy that may or may not appeal to the long-time fans of the franchise. It's just so different . But Alex is right: You really can't do justice to the period without the Navy. It's just stuff like this that puts me on edge:
"No one had really done a third-person action-adventure sailing game before. You’re controlling navigation and combat at the same time. You can walk around your boat, but once you take the wheel you’re steering the boat almost the same as you would in any vehicle in the game. At the same time, you’re ordering your crew to fire different weapons – whether it’s round shot to sink the boats or chain shot to take out masts. The fun of it is juggling those things."
I've never been a fan of "juggling." But hey, I'm sure Ubisoft will do it well.