The title screen

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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 Great Midwest Commonwealth or the Pacific Time Zone[1]. The player character in the demo is referred to only as Citizen (even though the Citizen uses the Prisoner's model). The Citizen's parents were reduced to ash, as they didn't believe the government's bombing raid sirens. The Citizen made his way to the relocation center and was escorted to a Vault 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 Citizen must help turn on the life support system.

There are several things of note in the tech demo. The first is that the female PC appears naked from the waist up, without the prisoner suit with the "13" legend. The second and most curious is that the male PC's character portrait appears to be Eric Wu from Eric Conveys an Emotion (or simply Emotion Eric). The female PC has no character portrait whatsoever.


The tech demo can be found here.


There are many bugs with the tech demo, as it is an unfinished game.

  • Some weapons cause a crash to desktop (CTD) when used. Others have AP values in the 100,000s+, rendering them unusable. Still other weapons won't fire, even when fully loaded.
  • Many of the maps that can be loaded through console commands either cause a CTD or completely freeze the computer.
  • While talking to the US Army soldier Armstrong at the start of the demo, the computer may crash.



A short video demonstrating the Van Buren tech demo created by Black Isle in 2003. Presented by No Mutants Allowed.

Black Isle's Van Buren

Black Isle's Van Buren


  1. Respectively - place of Armstrong's origin or the time zone on Citizen's Lil' Pip 3000 (Pacific Standard Time).
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