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For example, does a dagger do less damage than a sword if all other aspects (quality, level) of the weapons are equal?

I'm beginning to think it doesn't matter. The online help under Evaluating Weapons hints that it doesn't matter but fails to come right out and say it.

This whole time I was thinking it was similar to Skyrim: small weapons struck faster but did less damage.

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Not directly. By default there's no difference if stats are equal.

However, the skill lines Two Handed and Dual Wield both offer passive abilities (Heavy Weapons and Twin Blade and Blunt), which grant you bonuses based on the equipped weapons.

Assuming you're using a two-handed weapon or two identical one-handed weapons you'll get:

  • Swords: +3%/5% damage done
  • Axes: 8%/16% chance on melee attacks to apply a 6 seconds bleed
  • Maces: Ignore 10%/20% of a target's armor (applied after armor debuffs, but before Physical Penetration)
  • Daggers (Dual Wield only): +2%/5% Weapon Critical Rating

When mixing one-handed weapons you'll only get half the bonuses of each for obvious reasons.

Besides that (and ignoring different skills being available), two-handed weapons will indeed hit slower, but harder, while dual wielding grants you smaller, faster hits.

So overall, daggers will indeed do less guaranteed damage than swords, but they grant you a higher chance for critical hits.

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  • I would add that 2H weapons have some disadvantage when using set items, as it counts as one piece of a set where dual-wielding daggers is two pieces.
    – Paul
    Jul 19, 2017 at 19:00

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