I'm currently using the elite knights armor and with havens ring I'm under 50% but I'm considering just switching back to my starting pyromancer armor so I'll be under 25%. But my vitality is pretty low and I don't wanna switch if the defense from the knights armor makes a huge difference.
XB Gamertag - BeardedXBatman PSN ID - BeardedXBatman
The poise it offers (the ability to take hits without getting stunned) is quite useful. The defense isn't that important albeit it does help when you're new and probably taking a lot of hits. However, rolling quickly is the most important thing.
Extra defense is always nice, but ideally, you should strive to have as much defense as you can have while remaining under 25% equip load. But under 50% is...manageable. It's just, fast movement/roll is very valuable. Though I suppose it depends on how much you roll.
I'd say in terms of importance, a good shield and being able to roll fast are both very important, tied in general though personal preference can make one more valuable, and below them, poise and defense are tied for second place importance, again personal preference able to sway that tie.
I am snazzier, hot, hot rant. Warily slight as. Croak rush, OK? Weirder, almighty make out. ::)