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A percent is a percent increase, a number is a flat. You have to do some math to figure it out.
If you are dealing 100 energy damage, a 10% increase is better than +8, since 10% of 100 is, well, 10.
But if you are only doing, say, 50 energy damage, +8 is better because the +10% increase will only give you 5 damage.
Also note that for multiple projectiles (Plasma, bullets, etc) that the damage applies to EACH projectile, so it can get silly quickly. Later on percentages seem to be more dominant since, for example, a Beamer at higher levels will be dealing 1000ish damage per second, so 10% of that is another 100 damage.