It’s been an open secret for some time now that Ubisoft has a new Splinter Cell game in the works, but now at E3 this game has a name: Splinter Cell Blacklist.

To herald Sam’s return, a slew of screenshots and videos have appeared as if by magic, and from this haul of intel we can deduce certain details…

 Firstly, thanks to a Ubisoft teaser, we’ve been given a pretty accurate look at Sam’s new weapons loadout. Mostly, this is all stuff we’ve seen before: A combat knife, Sam’s trusty FN Five-seveN, and of course his glowy green NV goggles. But in place of the classic modular rifle, Sam’s now opting for a real-world M416, perhaps preferring a high rate of fire over any clever stealth add-ons for his firearm.

In fact, let’s get right to that. Thanks to a gameplay trailer also out of E3, we’ve been lucky enough to be able to see Sam in action. The level in question is set on the Iraq-Iran border and Sam, now leader of a blacker-than-black black ops unit (which is perhaps about as meaningless a piece of hyperbole I’ve ever heard) has to infiltrate a village full of bad guys. But there is a marked absence of shadows, and Sam’s approach is certainly more Conviction than Chaos Theory.

Which is to say that there’s a lot of shooting, and stuff blows up. But not in an altogether unimpressive way. Like a certain Assassin we could mention (one with a Creed, perhaps?) Sam is now a proficient freerunner, able to zoom around the landscape climbing things and jumping over walls – or using them as cover. The mark-and-execute system is back, and is demonstrated ‘on the hoof’ – Sam sprints out from cover, vaults a wall and legs it through the midst of the bad guys, slo-mo shooting them all on his way and even combining hand-to-hand and shooting in the same fluid movement.

Later Sam calls in an airstrike on a machine gun emplacement while under heavy fire, by getting on his comms to long-time ally Anna Grimsdóttír, who seems to have made it into the newly-formed Fourth Echelon along with Sam. As the boss, it would seem that Sam now has access to a lot more resources, certainly, than in either of the past two games, and can use his communications to request help when needed.

Despite all of this heavy-duty gunplay, Ubisoft have been eager to emphasise that there are lots of ways to complete each level, and that stealth purists haven’t been forgotten. The move to more action-oriented gameplay in Splinter Cell: Conviction divided fans. It would seem that Blacklist will attempt to reconcile them one again.

Blacklist is touted for release in Spring 2013. Are you a stealth purist or are you looking forward to calling in the heavy artillery? Let us know in the comments section below.