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"Heat level critical. Shutdown sequence initiated."
On-board computer, MechWarrior 2

Some games give you unlimited ammo, but the designer doesn't want you to fire continuously, so your gun will overheat if you fire continuously for too long, and you have to wait for it to cool down before you can use it again. Alternatively, you may have to reload, but have unlimited magazines, which is functionally identical. This doesn't just apply to guns. For example, in Excitebike, the motorcycle will overheat if you go fast for too long.

A particularly bizarre version can occur in games that feature mounted and handheld versions of the same machine gun, which may be governed by totally separate rules; for example, one may require reloading while the other does not but is able to overheat.

This can be partly considered an example of Truth in Television, as the dissipation of waste heat from various forms of technology is a major design consideration that is often overlooked; however, in video games the effect is typically exaggerated by a variable margin in terms of speed and grossly understated in terms of severity; overheating a machine gun will typically cause it to steam as if it has a water jacket, without the risk of rounds spontaneously igniting (known as "cooking off") or permanent barrel damage that come with overheating a real gun. May be partially justified by having the overheat meter represent a safety threshold imposed by an automated weapon control system or the shooter himself, and not the absolute maximum temperature at which the weapon is capable of firing. However, keeping firing at the risk of weapon damage is generally not an option. Typically, the quick-change barrels of modern machine guns are not represented, either, and there is no way to deal with an overheated barrel but wait for it to cool back down (which, for gameplay reasons, happens surprisingly fast).


Gatling Guns, especially of the modern Minigun variety, often fall victim to this trope, despite the fact that delaying the onset of this trope is the entire point of their multiple rotating barrels.

Essentially an inverted Charge Meter, and similar in function to a Sprint Meter, though the latter will generally go down instead of up. A sub-trope to Ability Depletion Penalty in games. Compare Cooldown, another way of regulating weapon/ability use. Contrast Pent-Up Power Peril when danger comes from the lack of use rather than overuse.

If the weapons are in space, it's an aversion of Space Is Cold.



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    Tabletop RPG 
  • Traveller Classic. In Book 4 Mercenary, several rapid firing weapons (such as machine guns) would overheat and jam if you fired them too often, requiring repair.
  • In BattleTech, heat is an important balancing factor. BattleMechs are environmentally sealed, powered by fusion engines and artificial muscle-like actuators that aren't exactly 100% efficient, and often bristling with energy, ballistic, and/or missile weapons; virtually everything they do starting with simple movement will cause heat to build up, which needs to be funneled out of the 'Mech via dedicated 'heat sinks'. Build up heat faster than those can handle, and your 'Mech will slow down and the accuracy of its weapons fire will suffer until they have caught up again. At sufficiently high levels it may even automatically shut down and/or see explosive ammo start to cook off.
    • There's also the in-universe anecdote (from the original Technical Readout 3025, may or may not have made it into later books) about the overenthusiastic all-Enforcer lance commander who supposedly exhorted his troops to fire "until your [auto]cannon glows. If need be, until it explodes!". No points for guessing what according to that story happened to him in just that battle...
    • Specialty "Inferno" incendiary ammunition is available for Short-Ranged Missile launchers. These Inferno warheads are less immediately damaging on impact, but the potent fuel charge it carries generates enough waste heat that any warm/hot-running battlemechs will likely have to hold their fire or even shut the engines down to allow the heatsinks to purge all that sudden waste heat. More advanced battlemechs that have the superior Double Heatsinks are far less vunerable to this weapon. Unsurprisingly, Infernos are also treated as nasty, nasty antipersonnel weapons and are a factor in some of the war crimes commited in the Inner Sphere.
    • Even in the meta-game of 'mech design, heat control is a critical factor. Ten heat sinks come free of mass costs with any type of fusion reactor engine (its integrated thermal control system), and any beyond that take up mass in the chassis. Sometimes those extra sinks can be bundled inside the reactor's volume so they don't take up critical space, though only if the engine is rated high enough to begin with (and if it's rated too low-power, sometimes even those ten mass-free integral sinks can't all fit inside the engine's volume). Double Heat Sinks, systems that cool twice as much for the same mass, are supposed to be counterbalanced by being much bulkier, but the engine integration factor significantly mitigates that (even the free-of-mass/space sinks are double). They are a point of contention with many old players, as it's posited that it disrupts gameplay balance and makes heat much less of an issue. Proponents argue that double heat sinks de-nerf the entire energy weapons lineup, giving them potential they didn't have before. Most on both sides agree that the meta-game would be screwed up even more if their rules were altered or they were removed outright.
    • A rare example of a technology meant to tap all that waste heat generated by battlemechs is the Triple-Strength Myomer, which requires you to keep a certain balance of heat in your 'mech to allow the TSM system to boost your ground movement speed and melee attack power. It has the practical effect of making more aggressive mechwarriors that ride the heat curve hard in order to get the most out of their TSM while ensuring they aren't hot enough to accidentally melt the engine block or torch their ammo.
    • In-universe, the Chameleon trainer 'mech was specifically designed to be easy to overheat. It has a massive number of energy weapons, but only the engine's integrated cooling system for heat control. The point is to put new pilots in the Chameleon and let them work out exactly how you're supposed to deal with the heat gauge.
  • Many, many R&D megaweapons in Paranoia. They also tend to explode regularly.
  • Some weapons in Warhammer 40,000 have a special rule called "Gets Hot!"; each time they're fired they have a 1 in 6 chance of "overheating" and injuring the operator. Most weapons with this rule are handheld plasma weapons, which harness energy equivalent to that of a star with technology the engineers have lost the blueprints to.
    • Eighth Edition changed the "Gets Hot!" rule in that Plasma weapons now have two profiles, one that can be fired without the chance of overheating, and one that boosts the weapon's Damage and Strength... but now Gets Hot has a 1 in 6 chance of outright killing the model instead of just wounding them.
    • They're totally worth it, though.
    • Fantasy Flight's Dark Heresy and its spinoffs have the Overheats and Recharge rules as well; weapons with Overheats will backfire (potentially exploding) if the wielder's attack roll is too high, and those with Recharge need time to recover between attacks.
  • GURPS High Tech naturally has detailed rules for overheating of automatic weapons, including barrel swaps, heating management by burst firing, and the possibility of spectacular malfunctions. GURPS Ultra Tech has optional overheating rules for energy weapons.
  • In Myriad Song pretty much all Energy Weapons other than Lost Technology Xenharmonics get hotter as they are used, fortunately they have a "Cooldown" dice that has a chance of reducing the heat level at the end of the turn.

    Video Games 
  • Halo:
    • The Covenant's plasma weapons don't have to be reloaded (and the player can't reload them), but overheat if fired too much. (Same thing in the fan game Halo Zero.)
    • Mounted machine guns function this way from Halo: Reach onward. When mounted, they overheat, but when torn free, they can be fired nonstop until their ammo runs out.
  • The beam laser in Forsaken breaks if it overheats.
  • In the shooter minigame in Final Fantasy VII the laser becomes less and less powerful if used continuously and you must wait for it to recharge.
  • Many of the guns in Star Wars: Battlefront follow this trope. Your backup pistol has unlimited ammo, but overheats quite quickly (and has less power than any other weapon in the game, so using it is ill-advised); vehicle-based weapons all have some sort of heat meter, and the Clone Commander's chaingun in Battlefront II uses the overheating mechanic to avoid becoming a Game-Breaker.
    • The V-Wing's cannons in Rogue Squadron overheat rather quickly in rapid-fire mode.
  • Mass Effect zig-zags this trope. Its One Big Lie is the eponymous mass effect, a form of dark-energy manipulation that essentially gives control over gravity. Firearms built using this technology can propel tiny shreds of metal at lethal velocities; they only need to reload their ammunition every 10,000 shots or so. But with Justified Bottomless Magazines, how do you create challenge in terms of gameplay?
    • Mass Effect takes the route of overheating. Guns can only be fired so often before they overheat and must go through a cooldown animation. Certain upgrades and ammunition will increase the rate at which the guns overheat, others will lower it.
      • With adequate equipment, you can easily make it so the guns will never overheat. Alternately, make it take a very long time to overheat and add some firepower. The Infiltrator class has the ability to lower the heat output on firing weapons which when combined with damage upgrades makes the class output the most damage over time in the game.
      • It is, however, thoroughly impossible to do so with any weapon using High Explosive Rounds, as they generate +500% heat.
      • Alternatively, go the other way and cram on extra-heat, extra-damage mods onto your Sniper Rifle and accept the fact it'll overheat after every shot, essentially making the equivalent of a cannon. Which makes one wonder, why aren't any parts being damaged by being subjected to +550% over standard heat on a regular basis?
    • Mass Effect 2 walks back on the flavor-driven firearm design. It works like a typical shooter, with limited shots before reloading. They attempt to reduce the degree of retcon by explaining it as ejecting a "heat sink" from your gun and inserting a new one, allowing the shooter to fire more bullets in a shorter time without waiting for the gun to cool down. This should prevent you from reloading single shots into a gun that fires multiple shots per heatsink... but it doesn't. The heat sinks are filled with a lithium compound that chemically changes when absorbing heat, so they have to be discarded after use. Of course, all this only applies to you. Computer-controlled characters still have Bottomless Magazines. Gameplay and Story Segregation is in full effect here.
    • Mass Effect 3 mixes and matches: while the majority of guns use the heat-sink reloading idea, several DLC weapons bring back the overheating mechanic. Mass Effect: Andromeda takes it one step further by making the "Vintage Heat Sink" (IE overheat system) available as one of the Gun Accessories in the game, allowing any weapon to use the overheat system via Item Crafting. It also includes a few overheating weapons "out of the box".
      • Somewhat lampshaded in ME3 with a case of in-universe Damn You, Muscle Memory!, where Shepard instinctively goes to swap the heat sink on an overheating weapon, and instead jerks his/her hand away as the heat vents off to the side.
      • It's also explained that the built-in cooling mechanisms in the guns from the first game had to be removed to make room for the removable heat-sink system, with another character (echoing many fan complaints) complaining that it was a step backwards and that they might as well have returned to using limited ammunition.
    • In the background, it's also a major concern for the player's ship, the stealth frigate Normandy. Not so much from weapons (they do generate a lot of heat, but it's easily dealt with), but from its thermal cloaking, which prevents enemy ships from getting a reading on its heat signature by, essentially, trapping all of the ship's heat in massive heat sinks. As the Normandy continues to remain cloaked, the heat builds up to noticeable levels, and eventually it has to decloak before the crew begins to suffer from the higher temperatures.
      • All ships in Mass Effect suffer this problem, but during normal operations it's nothing routine systems can't handle. Ships in combat build up heat so quickly from their increased power output that they go so far as to have liquid sodium sprays and similar systems to let them pump out heat. Even then, the ship can heat to the point that the crew has no choice but to give the ship time to cool or risk baking alive. Truth in Television; Space Is Cold, but it's also not really possible to lose heat by conduction or convection in the void.note  Radiation alone is a lousy way to cool something down.
      • They also suffer another form of "overheating" in that they build up massive static-electricity charges during Faster-Than-Light Travel that must be safely discharged. Most ships touch down on a planet in order to ground themselves.
  • In the Mechwarrior games, much like its parent BattleTech franchise, this is an inherent gameplay trait. All weapons create heat that must be dissipated by your 'Mech, but energy and missile weapons cause the most heat. Heat sinks can help dissipate the heat generated, but there's still a danger of overheating, and once you pass a certain threshold the 'Mech engages an automatic shutdown. If you override this automatic shutdownnote , you run the risk of ammunition explosions and reactor meltdowns. In Living Legends, going past the shutdown heat while overriding will cause your armor to literally melt off, generally starting with both arms. If you mount a Gauss rifle in either arm, it'll explode when destroyed.
    • However, that really applies only to energynote  and missilenote  weapons: ballistic weaponsnote  generate (almost) no heat at all, the only exception being the gatling-style Rotary AutoCannon, which overheats distressingly quickly.
    • This is an important part of the Competitive Balance of the various weapons, usually weighed against its ammo stock: laser weapons have Bottomless Magazines but build up heat quickly, making them ideal for a long but low-intensity fight, whereas ballistic weapons have little heat buildup and can be fired rapidly, dealing much more damage in the short run, but become useless as the fight goes on and their ammo is depleted. A middle ground of sorts can be reached by equipping an energy-based mech with more and better heat sinks; this has significant weight costs and doesn't let it carry quite as many weapons, but the tradeoff is the ability to fire a continuous stream of medium damage or large energy blasts without the necessity to shut down after every couple shots.
  • The Sten and Venom of Return to Castle Wolfenstein are rare examples of overheating weapons that still have limited ammo. Firing them in short bursts (particularly the Sten, which overheats after about ten shots) is a must. They're also both rare examples of enemies also being subjected to the same rules as the player (at least for the Sten, since waiting for a Venom-armed Nazi to overheat his weapon instead of getting to cover will usually get you killed). Truth in Television for the suppressed Sten; the barrel got hot enough to take the skin off your fingers if you sprayed a whole magazine in one go.
  • Yoshi's Safari had the, uhm, Super Scope overheat.
  • In Left 4 Dead, both the Gatling and Browning mounted guns overheat in about seven seconds of continuous use, and take about 20 to cool down enough to be fired again.
  • TimeSplitters and its sequels use this with the chain gun and plasma rifle, among others. The former even allows you to keep the barrel constantly rotating without firing (which keeps the heat gauge on about 1/3) so you can start shooting more quickly at the cost of overheating faster.
  • The vehicles in [PROTOTYPE] have their machinegun/miniguns do this (they have infinite ammo in missions where you need to use the vehicles or lose).
  • In Alien vs. Predator (Capcom), each character's built-in guns could overheat, but recharged over time. Except for Linn Kurosawa's, which didn't have any cooldown, but when it ran out of ammo it reloaded very fast (though Linn was helpless during the reload).
  • In the Battlefield series, mounted weapons generally use an overheat system, while weapons carried by the players have anywhere from 30 to 200 rounds, that can be fired off in one long burst before reloading. The anti-air rotary cannons will overheat and have unlimited ammo, while light machine guns mounted on a tank will overheat, one upgrade for tanks is a .50 cal heavy machine gun which does not overheat, but instead fires much more slowly.
    • In Battlefield 1 and Battlefield V light machine guns and even some big-mag submachine guns have both limited ammo and overheat. In the former it's represented as the gun malfunctioning and jamming, but in BFV some machine guns require a full barrel swap.
  • In Call of Juarez, there are rusty weapons and normal weapons: the former overheat if you fire them too often and after you fire enough times, the latter only do the last part. Once a weapon overheats, however, it's no longer usable.
    • Sometimes it overheats, sometimes it just catastrophically fails, like the barrel rupturing or the cylinder exploding. Also, any normal gun will become rusty and eventually fail the more you fire it.
    • The horse-riding Sprint Meter in also inverted to function this way: in one (awesome) chase scene, it can be helpful to switch horses because the one you start with will tire.
  • In Gears of War, the mounted and man-portable machine guns will overheat and require you to "vent" it by using the Reload button. The game doesn't bother telling you that you can do this.
  • In Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, you drive a machine-gun-mounted gondola in a few missions. Using the machine gun too much will stop you from using it.
  • Mounted guns in Far Cry 2 will overheat if fired for too long, eventually reaching the point of, like everything else in the game, catching on fire; however, the portable version of the SAW light machine gun will never overheat, instead requiring reloads and having ridiculous muzzle climb.
  • In FEAR 2: Project Origin, the player is at one point given control of an automatic mounted grenade launcher, which will overheat if fired for too long. Oddly, though, the gauge only actually increases while the fire button is held down; given the low rate of fire for that launcher, if the player taps the button instead of holding it, the heat gauge will never increase. The machine guns on the Elite Powered Armor also overheat - you can even see them glowing in thermal vision, though the oversight to avoid it doesn't work since they spit out bullets as long as the fire button is held.
  • This is how Dwarven Technologist Janos' Mana Meter is explained in Mage Knight: Apocalypse. He starts with zero heat, gains heat whenever he uses a skill, and when heat reaches 100, he must wait or use a 'coolant' potion.
  • In Freedroid RPG, Tux heats up from "casting spells" (computer programs) and will fry if he gets too hot. Hence, single-use coolants and items with "Cooling" (heat capacity) and "Cooling per second" attributes.
  • Mounted guns in Killzone 2 overheat, with the meter being the visible top surface of the barrel, which goes from dull silver to bright red.
  • Machine guns in Crysis can overheat, and the ice-shard firing MOAC gun also works this way.
  • Happens in Resident Evil 5 when continuously firing the Humvee machine gun for too long.
  • Your entire mech can have this problem in Armored Core 3. It was quite the Scrappy Mechanic.
  • In Robotech: Battlecry, your Veritech's machine gun has infinite ammunition, but overheats after a few seconds. The Battloid's sniper mode lets you fire a Charged Attack that does more damage but instantly overheats the gun.
  • In Walker, your Humongous Mecha is armed with twin guns that overheat if you fire them for too long, then they shut down until cool enough again. You don't really want this to happen when a wave of enemies is bearing down on you.
  • Warhawk: Warhawks have unlimited machine gun ammo, but their guns will overheat and temporarily jam after only a few seconds of continuous fire.
  • The Suffering: Ties that Bind featured sections with vehicle mounted guns that would overheat. These weren't used for regular fights, only when the game was throwing wave after wave of enemies at you.
  • The first Söldner-X game discourages constant fire by having your weapons overheat after prolonged firing.
  • Grand Chase does this with Mari's Gun Slinger job. The "heat gauge" fills up each round fired and will start to drain out if you stop shooting. If the gauge fills up all they full, the gun doesn't fire at all for a short time, leaving you with an attack that does nothing. However, it does not disable your MP Attacks at all, but only one of those uses the gun anyhow.
  • Brink has the 'ordinary guns need reloading, wall-mounted machineguns overheat' variant.
  • In Guilty Gear XX #Reload, Robo-Ky's tension meter is replaced with a unique power gauge and heat gauge. Specific moves increase his heat gauge, and if it maxes out he explodes, causing damage and knockdown to himself. However, his forward+hard slash command vents the heat in a cloud of steam, and it becomes more damaging the closer the heat gauge is to maximum. It's possible to chain together multiple vents before the gauge empties and the attack becomes ineffective again, though typically only one vent is necessary to bring Robo-Ky's heat back to safe levels.
  • In the Metroid Prime series, if you fire your Power Beam rapidly for an extended period it overheats and steam flows out of your gun. It doesn't affect your ability to fire and is purely cosmetic, however.
  • Happens in Persona 3 to Aigis herself after being in Orgia Mode for a full three turns.
  • In the Boktai series, your Gun Del Sol will overheat if you stay in intense sunlight for too long, causing it to jam temporarily, and take a short while in the shade (in-game or in real life) to cool down and allow it to fire again. Doing it this way prevents the player from regenerating their solar gun's energy near-instantly, and dissuades them from staying outside in intense sunlight for long periods, since the games use an UV sensor.
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare has the variant where mounted M249's, miniguns, and the Mk 19 have infinite ammo but can overheat, while the man-portable version of the former does not overheat but has limited ammo. Other games in the series, like World at War, have a variant where you can actually carry around mounted machine guns like the MG42 and mount them on their bipod yourself, but they still have limited ammo when mounted, and in some games in the series will overheat when fired like that anyway.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: the Heavy rifle (which would be more accurately called a light machine gun) overheats if you fire it for too long. A mod specific to that weapon is an enhanced cooling system that slows this down.
  • In Evolva, you have unlimited ammo for your attacks once you get them, but you must wait for them to charge again if you use them for too much time.
  • League of Legends has one champion, Rumble (a dude in a Mech-Warrior type suit), whose mana mechanic is an Overheat bar. Each ability use adds to it, and when it reaches 100% he overheats and cannot use abilities, but does some increased damage. There is skill in balancing the bar, keeping it full but not overheating until the opportune moment.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine has plasma weapons that overheat after several shots in quick succession or after firing a charged shot and have to be vented. Several heavy weapons available in multiplayer also overheat after extended firing.
  • In Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, vehicle-mounted miniguns and stationary machine guns both overheat if fired constantly for too long.
  • 7.62 High Caliber, among many other bits of realism, allows any fully automatic weapon to overheat from continuous firing. An overheated weapon wears out faster if you continue to fire it, resulting in a higher risk of jams that need to be cleared. Spare barrels are available, but only for specific weapons (and rarely showing up at all even at levels where such machine guns start appearing), and they take up weight and inventory space for the merc carrying them.
  • While overheating is not an actual gameplay mechanic, firing the minigun for long enough in Serious Sam will cause smoke to rise from the open end of the barrels once you let go of the trigger. NETRICSA's description for the laser gun also mentions that avoiding this is why it's made out of titanium and has four barrels that fire in succession. Serious Sam 4 Planet Badass retcons the laser gun's overheat, but in a curious inversion: once you fire it long enough for the barrels to glow red hot and the fan-like structure in the center to start whistling like a cooler fan on overdrive, the Slow Laser bolts gain a 33% damage boost. It's an incentive for the player to keep the trigger pressed until there's nothing in the screen to kill.
  • Sharla, your BFG-wielding medic in Xenoblade Chronicles, uses heat as a reverse Mana Meter. Using combat arts fills her heat meter, which only empties when it fills up or when manually vented. While the venting process does leave her immobile and vulnerable, she has the sense to duck while doing it, reducing monster aggro, and the ether effluence actually heals her as long as the heat is draining.
  • Red Orchestra has overheating machine guns, but handles it realistically with barrel switching, although not all LM Gs have a spare barrel. In Red Orchestra 2 ambient temperature is taken into effect, barrels overheat faster on summer maps. The tank barrels supposedly also heat up, affecting shell velocity.
  • Hellsinker discourages "fire forever" tactics commonly seen amongst shmup players by using the Luna system. As you fire your main weapon, your Luna gauge decreases, causing your firepower to decrease until it's reduced to minimum level; you can reload the Luna gauge by collecting purple Luna chips or letting your main weapon rest. Kagura's Xanthez equipment in particular is limited to 240 shots, and has full functionality until it runs out of ammo, at which point it's reduced to two weak streams of bullets until it reloads all the way back to 240.
  • Etrian Odyssey IV provides an example with its final class, the Imperials. Their drive blades can be used to dish out truly phenomenal amounts of damage, but must cool off for a number of turns after their most powerful attacks. Initially, the cooldown period is as long as 9 turns, but this can be mitigated with the right set of abilities.
  • EVE Online has overheating of ship modules via the Thermodynamics skill; however, this is more Explosive Overclocking as it is intentionally activated by pilots for a boost in module performance. All modules, including weapons, can be activated indefinitely so long as the ship has sufficient capacitor reserves.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Bounty Hunter class uses heat as a mechanic; using most abilities generates heat, which dissipates over time according to your current heat level. (The higher your heat is, the slower it dissipates, which encourages players to be frugal in normal gameplay while having a reserve for "burst" situations.) However, the actual mechanics of which abilities generated heat can be a little odd; throwing a sticky grenade generates heat, for instance, as does punching someone (admittedly, it is a jet pack–assisted punch), but firing your blasters in a basic attack does not.
  • Every gun in Star Wars Battlefront (2015) overheats after overuse, though depending on the gun when this happens can vary from after a single powerful shot to after two dozen shots in succession. Additionally, the Disruptor Star Card releases a burst of heat which causes any nearby guns to jam for a time. This also doubles as an ability for Lando and R2-D2.
  • Sega's 1981 arcade game Astro Blaster gives your ship a laser that is capable of overheating. Fire too many shots for too long, and your laser will be temporarily deactivated. This feature was carried over into the home computer adaptation Threshold.
  • In Vanquish, melee attacks, boosting, and Bullet Time cause Sam's Powered Armor to overheat if used too long, leaving you defenseless while it cools down. Some enemies also have weapons that induce overheating.
  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo during the helicopter level, after firing a few too many rounds without stopping, the minigun overheats.
  • In Ghostbusters: The Video Game heat is the main limitation on the use of the proton pack, since it's powered by a nuclear reactor. If used too much continuously, the pack shuts down for a few seconds to prevent meltdown, but can be vented at any time to prevent this.
  • For most ships in Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages, overheating is a bad thing. Fighters, however, want to build up heat because it can be used for Fighter-specific abilities such as increasing weapon damage or having heat absorb damage instead of shields. A ship that does overheat stops to vent heat, leaving it a sitting duck for a few seconds. Another quirk is the heat meter being double-layered; fill the heat meter once and the ship is "Running hot", a second time is an outright overheat. Some Fighter abilities can only be used while running hot.
  • Hyrule Warriors has this trope as one of Zant's mechanics in the form of the Twilight Meter. Whenever Zant uses his combo attacks, the gauge will build up, and if it fills, the attack backfires and stuns him for a few seconds. The only way to reduce the meter is to use the strong attack, which will allow him to shoot energy balls from his hands or spin around with blades whirling until the meter depletes. Managing the meter is part of the difficulty in using Zant.
  • The Minigun and Gatling Laser in Fallout 4 overheat and glow red when fired extensively, despite the cyclic barrels being designed to prevent this. It's just a cool-looking aesthetic flourish rather than a gameplay mechanic, since it doesn't affect their performance at all.
  • Bioshock Infinite has a similar case of weapons overheating and glowing red just because it looks neat. It veers into outright silliness when the submachine gun's heat shield starts glowing, while the still-cool barrel underneath it can plainly be seen.
  • The various parts of your spaceship in Kerbal Space Program are susceptible to overheating if pushed too hard. Not only is Friction Burn fully in effect, making atmospheric reentry an affair not to be taken lightly, but engines can and will overheat themselves - especially the massive clusters needed to push heavy payloads through the thicker atmosphere, which convects exhaust heat right back to the engines. The game models convection, conduction, and radiation effectively, meaning parts in space cool down more slowly than ones in an atmosphere that can convect and conduct heat away. Vessels that get too close to the Sun need radiators in order to counter being blasted by the solar radiation. Parts will even transfer heat to neighboring parts, risking them overheating as well as the problematic part itself. And if a part does overheat completely, it explodes, and possibly takes the rest of your craft with it. All of this models real-life spacecraft design considerations, as in the Real Life section below.
  • In From the Depths, engines produce more heat the higher they rev. Rev and engine for too long and it will start overheating, causing a dramatic drop in power until it shuts down outright. Engines should therefore be designed to operate at low RPM or feature additional cooling components such as exhaust vents or radiators. Advanced Cannons can be overclocked to fire while still cooling off from previous shots, but with a drop in accuracy until the barrel cools.
  • In the "My Blaster Runs Hot" mini-game in Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack In Time, the players' blasters will overheat with continuous use, but attacking again while overheated will fire a multiple enemy-clearing beam.
  • In Medal of Honor: Vanguard, the MG42 can overheat if it is fired for too long without waiting for it to cool down.
  • DOOM (2016):
    • The Mobile Turret mod for the Chaingun puts out the most dakka of the entire game, but overheats if too many rounds are put through it at once. The Mastery for the mod removes this limitation, allowing you to fire indefinitely, or at least as long as you have ammo for it. The Gatling Rotator also generates a fair bit of heat (it intentionally circumvents the weapons safety systems), but it can channel that heat into the tungsten/depleted uranium bullets the weapon fires to unleash superheated bullets.
    • The Plasma Gun has an alt-fire mode that works by charging a heat sink. It can be violently discharged into an enemy's face at any time, with more heat sunk translating into a more powerful heat blast. It can be upgraded to passively siphon heat off the weapon's power core as well.
  • In Colobot, both the player and the robots can use jetpacks to fly, but using it continuously causes it to eventually overheat, forcing you to land when it happens. Even on fairly cold planets, it usually takes at most 60 seconds of continuous flight for this to happen. And in hotter climates, this can happen as quickly as after 3 seconds of flight. There's a few levels where this is used to introduce a platforming element of sorts.
  • The Knight Titan in Dawn Of War 3 gains heat as its Vulcan Cannons fire. Once it gains enough heat, its bullets become superhot.
  • BattleTech uses a simplified version of the heat system from the tabletop game: every mech generates heat when it uses weapons, and the mech's heat efficiency determines how fast it builds up. Once the mech overheats by a certain threshold, the mech will start to take structure damage every turn, and if heat builds up to the max, the mech shuts down until heat dissipates to zero to allow a system restart (which, of course, means the mech is completely vulnerable to attack). Some special weapons, notably flamers, specifically cause heat damage, which can force mechs to shutdown that much faster, and some mechs are designed to mount a large number of heat-producing weapons with an equally large number of heat sinks (such as the Hunchback 4P variant, which mounts no less than eight laser weapons, all of which cause significant heat buildup). There's also terrain considerations: cold environments and being submerged in water increase heat efficiency, while hot environments and geothermal pockets reduce heat efficiency. Zero atmosphere environments (designated as Lunar or Martian) greatly reduce heat efficiency: no atmosphere means no thermal conductivity.
  • Templar Battleforce uses an overheating system similar to the Battletech franchise, as your Templars are using Mini-Mecha suits called Leviathans. Every step moved and action taken causes the Leviathan to build up heat, with the Templar taking damage when they're overheated.
  • Borderlands 3: Children of the Vault brand firearms have Bottomless Magazines but are prone to overheating. Some guns have the burnt parts replaced, while others are sprayed with a Dahl Kidz-brand water pistol.
  • The raygun in System Shock has a fire rate hampered by heat building up with each shot, on top of requiring energy drawn from your battery. You can tweak it to draw more or less energy with each shot, changing both the damage dealt and heat accumulated.
  • Your weapons in Jets'n'Guns cause your ship to heat up, stopping fire once your heat meter reaches the cap.
  • The Grineer ramparts in Warframe have Bottomless Magazines and a fast rate of fire that slows down if you keep firing with max heat accumulated. Railjack weapons likewise have no ammo limits, but building up enough heat forces them into a cooldown period that is much longer than if you just let go of the trigger. Improving your gunnery skill enough will cut down that cooldown period and there are avionics that can be installed to reduce heat build-up.
  • Cube Colossus: After running out of weapon Energy, there's a cooldown for it to recharge enough to use it again, and the character speech that happens indicates that the weapon needs to literally cool down to prevent overheating.
  • Saints Row IV: Standard Zin guns will overheat quickly, but have no reloads and can be cooled down quickly by tapping R. The President performs an animation where they take their hand off the gun to fan it when this happens.
  • The laser in Trauma Center stops working for a while if you have used for too long, which can make certain operations difficult if you get bad timing. The only exception occurs when you fight Pempti, a GUILT strain that can only be harmed by a special red laser that works continously.
  • Apex Legends: The L-Star works this way. It never needs to be reloaded as it draws ammo directly from the inventory, but it will overheat after a certain number of consecutive shots. Like other weapons in the game it can be given an upgraded magazine, which will increase the number of shots allowed before overheating.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the animated US Army training cartoon [1] episode "Fighting Tools", Snafu tries to kill a Nazi soldier with a M1917 Machine gun, but because he didn't connect the water tank, it not only ends up overheating, the whole gun literally melts into a puddle.

    Real Life 
  • Averted with the Nokia-reliable Vickers machine gun. It was so well cooled that the barrels could last around an hour of continuous fire, as long as there's a continuous supply of liquid for the water-cooled weapon. "Continuous fire" as in: dump belts in full auto for an entire hour. One famous barrage at the Battle of the Somme involved multiple machine guns firing a cumulative total of not quite one million rounds over 24 hours, which soaked up all the water set aside for cooling, much of what had been set aside for drinking, and all the local urine tubs, and involved a hundred (carefully planned) barrel changes to various guns at various times. The actual reciprocating mechanisms were still ticking over nicely at the end.
    • The Vickers gun was a descendant of the original Maxim gun, which was also water-cooled and known for spraying barrages like no tomorrow.
  • Vietnam-era M60 machine guns could keep firing even as their Stellite-lined barrels got hot enough to start glowing. Anecdotes from the time say that machine gunners would occasionally shoot until the barrels actually became translucent and bullets could actually be seen travelling down them before swapping in a fresh barrel. Too bad the M60 was plagued by other issues, namely receiver fragility, user-unfriendly loading procedures, and the fact that the gas-cylinder locking keys were too weak to withstand the gas pressure of full-powered ammunition.
  • The G36 may be an awesome gun in STALKER, Far Cry, and Modern Warfare, but in reality, it has serious problems with overheating, and German soldiers consistently prefer the G3 instead. The rumor goes that in a serious enough firefight (that is, as little as a couple of mags fired back-to-back) the overheating gets so severe that the rifle's polymer frame warps from the heat, throwing the sights hopelessly out of alignment and requiring a complete rebuild. A dozen mags reportedly can cause the rifle to literally melt. Not surprisingly, Heckler & Koch retorted with the actual build contract that made the G36: Nobody stated that the rifle had to perform well if abused by stressed-out soldiers.
  • For reference, tests show that even comparatively thin-barreled assault rifles really start overheating after several hundred rounds fired non-stop (about a dozen magazines). This means second-degree burns if the barrel is touched, and the handguard around the barrel smoldering, warping or even straight bursting into flames. Surprisingly, a rifle can still go on — although this coincides with a very marked drop in accuracy on account of a slightly deformed barrel. If the shooter pushes forth, two things inevitably happen. First, rounds begin to cook-off in the chamber (going off on their own from heat alone), causing a runaway automatic fire and potential blown-up action if the bolt didn't have the time to fully close. Second — an overheated barrel might rupture in a weak spot, also catastrophically destroying the weapon with a pressure spike. These two phenomena work together very nicely — and if this happens with a machine gun (that has a large ammo capacity and powerful powder loads) the result is definitely not pretty: "catastrophic destruction" frequently means that pieces of gun's action fly straight into the shooter's face. Luckily, well-designed air-cooled machine guns can fire up to thousands of rounds under acceptable heat levels. Nevertheless, if the surviving shooter keeps abusing his weapon to the point of even a "smoldering" overheat, he can expect a very strong-worded reproach by his quartermaster — because heat warping and increased stress wears out the gun extremely quickly.
  • On the other hand, some firearms (especially those not expected to hose an enemy for hours) have a very pronounced tendency to overheat. For example, the AKS-74U (the PDW version of the AK-74 that filled the SMG niche in the Soviet/Russian arsenal for some time) begins literally "spitting" bullets after so much as several magazines fired back to back: in other words, accuracy and velocity both go to Hell.
  • Light support weapons that are intended for protracted firing, as opposed to assault rifles that are intended to be fired in bursts, are equipped with a spare barrel that switch out on the fly to help prevent this. Soldiers are trained to switch them out quickly, even during the midst of a firefight, to prevent stress and warping of the weapon.
    • If a belt-fed machine gun that fires from a closed-bolt really overheats and begins cooking off ammunition, the worst thing for the gunner to do is to drop the weapon in the hopes that simply not depressing the trigger will stop the runaway gun. Machine gunners are told that should their weapon overheat and runaway on them that they twist the ammunition belt so that the gun cannot feed and then wait for the gun to cool off.
  • There is a story about an army band who (in keeping with regulations) had to do target practice including with machine guns, but due to inexperience they tended to keep firing for too long which would overheat the barrels and damage the guns. Finally, the range master realized that they were better musicians than they were machine gunners, so he mounted a piece of sheet music on the guns consisting of two bars of music showing one whole note followed by one whole rest. Result: trope averted and no more damaged machine gun barrels.
  • This trope shows up, played perfectly straight, in a very unsuspecting device: the flashlight. More specifically, the small-size and high-power LED light typically fed by a lithium-ion battery. LEDs may be more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs of old, but they still generate a godawful amount of heat if driven hard enough (particularly potent models that dish out thousands of lumens or candelas can put out enough heat to be used as lighters), and that heat can burn up the diode or, in more extreme cases, melt the solders. Heat sinks mostly solve the issue in larger appliances, but when you have to keep it compact for portability's sake, even an entire aluminium body with the user's hand sucking up some of the heat (an uncomfortable practice even in the cold, as depending on its size and power, the light gets HOT) isn't enough. As such, these flashlights for the most part have a step-down feature in their circuits that either drops the output to a lower level or turns the torch off altogether before the heat buildup can become damaging.note 
  • Atmospheric re-entry is not the only way a spacecraft can overheat — without an atmosphere around it to convectively transfer heat away and to protect it from the bulk of the Sun's radiation, spacecraft cooling systems must rely on radiating massive amounts of electronics-killing heat away.
  • Although modern weapons have put a lot of clever thought into averting or at least mitigating this trope, it was a huge concern for early gunpowder weapons, and cannon in particular. A cannon that fired too many times in succession or with too big a charge of gunpowder risked exploding, usually with catastrophic results for the crew. The so-called "leather cannon" were particularly hurt by it because of their construction; they had a typical thin metal barrel, but whereas other cannon had outer layers of metal banded around the bore for strength, leather cannon used much smaller metal straps and, yes, leather wraps. These were strong enough for the light shot used, but caused the barrel to retain heat, limiting the gun to no more than two or three shots per battle.
  • This trope is why rotary cannons are the mechanism of choice for when you really want an extreme rate of fire in one weapon. Single-barrel weapons can't go much past 1,000 rounds per minute before the accumulated heat starts melting the barrels way too fast for comfort. Spreading the rate of fire around multiple barrels means each barrel can have a sane rate of fire while the overall weapon has the rate of fire you need — most ones in use with the US military, for instance, fire at about six thousand rounds per minute, usually distributed at about a thousand per barrel. This is particularly ironic for video games trying to balance such weapons, however, in three aspects: they not only overheat much faster than in reality, but they are also the only weapons that do so in the vast majority of games, or their cyclic fire rate is so low that the anti-overheat property of the design is pointless.
  • Heat management is always important when building or working with a computer. Heat is generated by the main processor, the CPU, which when dealing with normal things like basic programs or web-surfing doesn't put out very much heat. But graphics-intensive things such as 3D modeling and computer gaming can put a huge load on the processor and cause it to heat up to dangerous levels, which is why cooling systems such as fans and water-cooling are needed to avoid damage. Most computers designed for gaming nowadays have a dedicated graphics card just for dealing with advanced graphics, and they can generate even more heat than the processor, requiring it to be vented out or otherwise dealt with. Overheating can cause damage to not only the processor or the card, but to other internal parts such as the motherboard, which can be very bad for the machine as a whole. Which is why it's advisable for any computer owner to regularly check their unit's fan for dust buildup and clean it out periodically. Also, make sure nothing is placed by the computer that would block the fan's output. Nowadays, most systems will automatically shut off or slow way down if the CPU gets too hot, as a failsafe; annoying, but at least your computer survives long enough for you to figure out the issue.
    • This is also why, for a while, dedicated gaming PCs tended to be desktop models; easier to figure out the cooling system of a large desktop tower than a more constrained laptop, especially when it comes to cracking open the casing to clean out the fan (most laptops nowadays don't even let you swap out the keyboard, let alone get to the fan). Fortunately for gamers on the go, the technology is more or less caught up, and gaming desktops and laptops are more comparable in price and performance. Still though, take heed if the keyboard of your laptop starts feeling abnormally hot as you're playing.
    • That is more of a concern for mobile devices as smartphones and tablets, that have few if any heatsinks to speak of and where components are crammed together, and is one of the reasons -other being power consumption- that explain why despite often having specifications comparable to those of desktop and laptop computers, and despite advances in technology, the former lag behind the latter in performance and games and apps must be optimized for them.


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