Dragon Age is a lot of fun. I had defected to the Mass Effect crowd when the second was released for the PS3. But it had a save corrupting bug (the patch was just released) so I stopped playing it. With Dragon Age II coming out soon, I picked up the original again. It's so much deeper than Mass Effect.
I found out that Dragon Age II will import your save from the first game. I didn't think they were going to do that, because the "sequel" follows a completely different character, and actually starts its story right after the first big battle of the original game.
But what happens is II actually covers 10 years of story, where as the first one is probably a couple months at most. So it does become a true sequel. But why import the data from the first one? Because you make world altering choices throughout the adventure. The imported save makes it so the DA2 world is consistent with the one you created in the first.
The first game, called Origins by the way, has some downloadable content that takes place after the game too (and some that takes place during, even one that is set before). Dragon Age II, can incorporate the events of:
- Dragon Age: Origins
- Awakening (a $40 DLC because it's enough content to be another full game)
- The Golems of Amgarrak
- Witch Hunt
So if you play those in order always importing your data from the last (each also give you the option of creating a new character) every major event will end up reflected if the last save of Witch Hunt is brought into Dragon Age II.