Following on the heels of Bethesda’s official opening of its Fallout 3 forums, Black Isle Studios’ infamous Van Buren tech demo has been released to the public.

Van Buren was the code-name for Black Isle’s aborted attempt at a second Fallout sequel. The game was intended to be set in the American southwest, and a basic storyline had been plotted that expanded upon the events of the first two games, focusing largely on a war raging between the Brotherhood of Steel and the New California Republic. Before work could progress past this early stage, however, the entire Black Isle Studios staff was laid off by its parent company, Interplay.

While playable, Van Buren is a pre-alpha tech demo, never intended for public consumption. Many features, including combat, aren’t fully implemented, the graphics are very basic, and it is extremely buggy. It is also has no connection whatsoever to the Fallout 3 project currently being developed by Bethesda. Nonetheless, its near-legendary status among the die-hard Fallout fanbase as well as the curiosity factor surrounding it for more casual gamers will likely result in the demo’s widespread dissemination.

The 214-megabyte Van Buren tech demo can be downloaded from No Mutants Allowed via this link, and a guide to installing, configuring and playing the demo is available here.

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