In Returnal, overload refers to a procedure you follow to immediately refill your equipped gun’s ammunition without waiting through a potentially lengthy cooling period.
As Selene explores the planet Atropos, she frequently encounters enemies she must eliminate. Unless she relies heavily on melee strikes, which work beautifully on turrets and shielded foes, projectile weapons are likely to serve as her favorite offensive measure. Guns carry limitless ammunition, but they overheat quickly if too many shots are discharged in rapid succession.
Once a gun overheats, the overload gauge starts to fill. Near the center of the gauge is a rectangular box. Watch as the meter fills, and pull the trigger while the indicator is within the designated space (as if lining up a swing in some popular golf video games) to immediately trigger a complete refill of your ammunition without having to wait a potentially fatal few additional seconds.
In addition to projectile type, the different guns feature differing magazine capacity, cooling periods, rate of fire, and overload mechanics. Various parasites and artifacts may also impact how quickly the ammunition refills and affect the overload process in other ways. That’s one more factor to consider each time you decide whether to swap one gun out for another, since you can carry only one at a time.
As a neat bonus, you can acquire the “Surgical Precision” bronze Returnal trophy if you manage to perform five consecutive overloads at any point, even if you’re not battling enemies at the time. It’s good practice!