I'm lost. It's not something I'm proud of, but I have no idea where I need to be going. I'm on the attacking force in a Squad Rush multiplayer game of Battlefield 3 and I'm running around like a headless chicken, trying to work out where those target markers are pointing.
Things started so well, too. We advanced efficiently along a mountain pass, dealt with some sneaky snipers who'd taken cover in the long grass at the top of a rise, and we'd driven the defending team back from the first two objective markers with ruthless efficiency. We were unbeatable. We were badasses.
But now I'm scampering about like a drunken puppy, trying to find some tunnel or doorway that will allow me into the guts of this enemy base. The objective markers are below me, so unless the game is horribly glitched, there must be a way in. One of my brothers in arms sprints past me and hurls himself off the helipad, clearly driven to suicide in the hopes that a respawn would put him back on track and make the way forward clear.
That's when, after an embarrassingly long time, the penny drops. I dash to the side of the helipad and peer cautiously over the edge. There, half a kilometre straight down, is the next objective. Halfway there already, my fellow soldier's parachute flutters into life. I take a deep breath and jump.
Welcome to Damavand Peak.
It's a moment of relief, not only because I'm back in the game and pretending I knew to do this all along, but because it means that DICE hasn't lost its knack. After the suspiciously COD-like Metro map in the beta, I was genuinely concerned that the masters of multiplayer map design had lost their touch, the unique flavour of old subsumed by the need to win over rival fans.
Damavand Peak, it turns out, is a quintessential Battlefield map. It's vast. It's varied. You can approach its objectives from dozens of directions, and join the battle in countless ways. Whatever class you favour, whatever loadout you've picked, it feels like the map was designed just for you. And yet for all its flexibility, it keeps moving forwards, relentlessly. Apart from, you know, when feckless journalists don't pay attention and somehow miss that their entire squad has performed a 500m base jump.
It's that jump that will get all the attention of course, but it's more than just a gimmicky stunt. Once you realise that this is the part where you hurl yourself into the abyss, there's a natural elation as you freefall down, seeing the tiny toytown buildings thundering up to meet you, as you dare yourself to wait one more second before deploying your chute. In live play, this is where lots of giddy noobs will meet their end. Just as newcomers hung around helicopter spawn points, only to be picked off by shrewd snipers, so ruthless sharpshooters will earn healthy XP from the fact that a veritable shower of fresh meat will be flinging itself into their sights from the same point.