A tech demo of Van Buren was created during the game's development. When asked about it, Bethesda's Pete Hines replied: "[...] releasing someone else's unfinished product, or assets from it, is not something we intend to do." Several screenshots and one video of the tech demo were released at No Mutants Allowed on April 30, 2007, followed by the tech demo itself on May 2.
The plot of the tech demo is not connected to the main storyline and was going to be included in the finished game as a tutorial. It takes place in the United States of America during the Great War, somewhere in the midwestern United States or the Pacific Time Zone. The player character in the demo is referred to only as Citizen, though they share a model with the Prisoner. The PC's parents were reduced to ash, as they didn't believe the government's bombing raid sirens. The Citizen made their way to the relocation center and was escorted to Vault 1 by Corporal Armstrong of the 4th or 13th Armored Infantry Division. To reach the Vault, they must fight communist insurgents. After they enter the Vault, the PC must then help turn on the life support system.
There are a few things of note in the demo. The male PC's character portrait is that of Eric Wu from Eric Conveys an Emotion. The female PC is naked from the waist up, without the prisoner suit with the "13". The female PC also has no character portrait whatsoever.
The tech demo can be found here.
There are many bugs with the tech demo:
- Firing some weapons will result in a crash to desktop (CTD).
- Some weapons have ridiculous AP values (100,000+), rendering them unusable.
- Other weapons can't be fired, even when fully loaded.
- Many of the maps that can be loaded through console commands either cause a crash to desktop or completely freeze the computer.
- While talking to the U. S. Army soldier Armstrong at the start of the demo, the computer may also crash.
A short video demonstrating the Van Buren tech demo created by Black Isle in 2003, presented by No Mutants Allowed.
- Respectively - place of Armstrong's origin or the time zone on Citizen's Lil' Pip 3000 (Pacific Standard Time).