XFCE and other Sabayon spins have no proprietary drivers, because they are intended to be lightweight and for experienced users, you can adjust the resolution and use the console manually with no Nvidia drivers, it just requires more experience.
To sum it up, you should stick to the KDE4/Gnome releases if you want a more user friendly experience.
No Nvidia proprietary drivers means open source ones, so no Nvidia splash screen.
If you want the proprietary drivers, the package you have to download is nvidia-drivers
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equo install nvidia-drivers
is the Nvidia Control Center, the GUI to setup and tweak the proprietary drivers, it is optional, since it depends on the Nvidia Drivers, if you downloaded it, it automatically pulled the drivers package, so it worked.
The 5.5 release has a lot of updates but is very tested and stable, it is definitely not deprecated (at least not until the next official Sabayon release).
Of course if you cannot afford doing such a huge update, you will have to go for a daily release, but you could run into issues, they are not gone into testing, like the official release version did, even if the packages themselves are stable, so there is some probability to run into problems.