Although they were two of the main COGs — literally and figuratively — in the Marcus Fenix-led Delta Squad between Gears of War 1 and 3, the games’ campaigns were never bashful about separating Damon Baird and Augustus Cole (aka “The Cole Train”) from the center of the action. Case in point: During the final hours of Gear of War 3 (don’t worry; we won’t spoil the details), the pair went gallivanting to gather reinforcements for a COG assault on Azura as Marcus, joined by the game’s narrative lens, steamrolled his way towards the finale: a face-off with the Locust Queen.

It’s this lacuna in the Locust-fighting series that Gears of War: Judgment, even as a prequel to the main trilogy, will explore with an unlockable mini-campaign named “Aftermath.” Epic Games revealed the mode — which serves as an epilogue to Baird and Cole’s adventures in Judgment — during a preview event this week and released its accompanying video documentary above.

Keeping chronology in check, Aftermath is unlocked after completing Judgment’s primary campaign — but only with some extra panache. As Senior Producer Chris Wynn explains, each mission contains three stars that players can earn provided they accumulate enough points — mainly through completing a mission,  earning ribbons for combat theatrics (“headshots, executions and those kinds of things”), and attempting the more-challenging/dynamic “Declassified” versions of each mission. Earn every star, and Aftermath unlocks.

Gears of War Judgment Aftermath Campaign

If the points system sounds familiar, it’s not a coincidence; “killing with skill” was the central philosophy behind Judgment developer People Can Fly’s previous offering, Bulletstorm. Gears has never been short on myriad opportunities for grotesque, over-the-top combat, but the extra flair feels conducive to the lighter tone writers Rob Auten and Tom Bissel are invoking in Judgment’s story.

That Epic is referring to Aftermath as a campaign suggests a substantial run time for the component, although the developer wasn’t ready to pin hours and minutes on it just yet. In any case, it’s nice to see a game feature additional story-centric content that’s unlocked through gameplay — rather than monetary — investment. (Although yes: expect the game to offer an extensive suite of paid DLC as well.) Hopefully, as Judgement‘s de facto epilogue, Aftermath won’t just lend more closure to the core trilogy’s narrative arc but also to two characters for whom Judgment might serve as a Gears of War swan song.

Ranters, does a Gears of War 3-tie-in bonus campaign have you more intrigued about Gears of War: Judgment?

Gears of War: Judgment releases on March 19, 2013, exclusively for the Xbox 360.

Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.