|Even the most nimble combatant will eventually be hit. When that happens, your Defense and Absorption stats determine how much of the attack's damage affects you. Defense and Absorption are mostly determined by the armor you are wearing, although some other factors like your Attributes and various Status Effects can affect them. You can see your current Defense and Absorption stats on the Equipment screen.
Defense is a flat number for each Attack Type, and is mostly based on how much of your character is covered by armor of any sort. Cloth gloves provide the same amount of defense as gloves made of steel. Wearing a strong chestpiece but no hat will provide less defense than wearing leather chest and headwear. Defenses are also increased by certain Attributes, like Physique improving your defense to Physical Attacks. Additionally, equipping up to a Heavy Equip Load will grant a bonus to your Physical Defenses.
Absorption is a percentage for each Attack Type, and is derived from the specific pieces of armor you've equipped. Unlike Defense, a heavy chestpiece will have higher Absorption ratings than a light chestpiece of the same Tier. Absorptions are a key differentiator among equipment, and are shown within the items' tooltips.
When you take damage, your Defense and Absorption to the attack's type are used to decrease the amount of damage you take. First, your Defense value is subtracted from the damage. Then, that new value is decreased by your Absorption percentage.
Blocking improves your Absorption to all damage types for the attack you blocked.