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If you played the first Borderlands, Gearbox Software would like to reward you for your dedication. They'll be giving exclusive Borderlands 2 extras to all veterans of the first game.
If Borderlands 2 detects save data from the first game on your system, you'll get a set of character heads and skins. The heads enable you to look like a bandit or a Crimson Lance trooper. The outfits are basically Borderlands merch.
There's no mention of whether you need any set amount of progress in Borderlands. It sounds like you just need any old save file from the game. It seems more appropriate, from Gearbox's perspective, to reward someone for buying the game than for beating it. After all, these rewards might inspire someone to buy Borderlands in the coming months.
Borderlands 2 will launch on September 18th in North America and on the 21st in Europe.