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How do games make meaningful distinctions between HP and Defense systems?

Content of the article: "How do games make meaningful distinctions between HP and Defense systems?"

For many games, it seems like defense is simply a reduction to how much damage you will take in Health. In these case, it seems like on paper, a high HP/Low DEF character is practically the same as a Low HP/High DEF character.

For simplicity sake, I'm ignoring instances of multiple defensive stats (eg Pokemon physical vs special DEF, or Dark Souls fire/magic/lightning def etc)

One of the most distinct implementation is instead of DEF being simply a reduction of damage, it instead acts as a minimum damage wall. If you are not able to hit the damage reqs, then you're attack will either do zero or sometimes just 1 damage. In these cases, the strategy is instead to either slowly tick down the enemy 1 hp at a time, take time buff yourself/lower enemy defense, or try for critical hits that will either hit the damage reqs or bypass defense entirely. The classic example being metal slimes from Dragon Quest.

Mobile game Puzzle and Dragons also implements this for enemies. In these cases, skills that bypass defenses and deal fixed damage (either raw number or percentage) are very effective ways to defeat these enemies if you are not able to hit damage requirements.

Also in PaD, there's a distinction between player HP and shield. Having a 50% shield is the same as having effective 2x HP. Where this comes in play, is when some enemies do HP percentage based attacks, sometimes even 100% or greater. A team with x2 HP / 0 SHIELD will die to a 100% HP damage attack, but a team with x1 HP / 50% SHIELD will survive it. The main caveat being shields require active maintaining, either through active skills OR consistently procing it a certain way, as opposed to the flat 2x HP bonus.

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What are some other games that DO implement distinctions between the two stats?

For games that don't really have any distinctions, essentially… when building my character on level up, how would I judge whether or not to pump my HP or DEF? Is DEF effectively just HP-2?


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