Defense in Dark Souls 3 is the numbers listed under the "Defense" section on the right side of the second page of the equipment menu (you can swap between pages with Y on controller and F on keyboard) and is not to be confused with Absorption, the numbers listed to its direct right.  Contrary to popular belief it is not a flat reduction and is calculated with these formulas.


Defense Statistics

- If DEF >8x ATK, deal damage equal to 0.10 * ATK
- If DEF >ATK, deal damage equal to (19.2/49 * (ATK/DEF-0.125)^ 2 +0.1) * ATK
- If DEF >0.4x ATK, deal damage equal to (-0.4/3 * (ATK/DEF-2.5)^ 2 +0.7) * ATK
- If DEF >0.125x ATK, deal damage equal to (-0.8/121 * (ATK/DEF-8)^ 2 +0.9) * ATK
- If DEF <0.125x ATK, deal damage equal to 0.90 * ATK


The maximum damage a player can deal through defense and before absorption is 90% of their attack, conversely the minimum a player can deal is 10% of their attack.

Because defense is in brackets changing damage by even by a small amount can cause a large change in damage. This can cause attacks to do more damage than  expected. For example the Ultra Greatsword weapon class does 175% damage on a fully charged heavy attack, thats 75% more than a light attack, so the player would expect to deal 75% more damage to the enemy than they did with the light attack, however, often times the player will deal more than 75% because they will move into a different defense bracket. The phenomena also occurs with small amounts of damage.

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    • Anonymous

      25 Feb 2021 16:08  

      These formulas are needlessly complex. They should have just made it flat reduction with a floor of 10% and ceiling of 90%. Those three extra brackets in between serve no purpose. All this does is obscure how useful a players gear actually is.

      • Anonymous

        15 Feb 2021 22:09  

        This means one powerful attack will be much more effective than multiple light attacks. It makes sense why bosses' attacks are slow and powerful.

        • Anonymous

          28 Jan 2021 23:27  

          Is the damage calculated this way against players the same for enemies in the game? Basically, if I could find these values from a spreadsheet for an enemy type, could I predict the damage I would deal to them using these formulas?

          • Anonymous

            02 Dec 2020 20:50  

            To simplify things since most players are seeking to understand their dmg output if you have a physical weapon you will deal around 75% of the AR as dmg before considering any absorptions as of split dmg weapons you will deal around 70% of the elemental dmg and 50% of the physical dmg before any absorption. Usually non split dmg deal 11% more dmg than split dmg weapons. I hope this helps.

            • Anonymous

              02 Dec 2020 20:45  

              To simplify what this means: on lower levels when dmg is still low the effect of defense is high the coefficient for atk/def is 0.39 for small weapons and 0.13 for medium and large weapons.
              when dmg becomes greater later on the coefficient for atk/def becomes 0.0066 for medium and large and 0.13 for small weapons.

              Basicly, defense becomes less effective the higher the dmg that is received once dmg is around 300 for medium weapons and large and 120 for small weapons defense becomes near useless.

              • Anonymous

                02 Jun 2020 14:37  

                Extremely useful against small AR value attacks or those with split damage, as defenses are applied to each damage type individually. Weaker spells also get affected. However, against huge AR from a single damage type, like all those ultras or Crystal Soul Spear and such, defense is less useful than absorption. In the end, see which is more deadly against your build, fast attacks with average to weak damage per hit or truck hits from slowest melee and spells.

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