The Wastelands are a large desert near Vacuo, which is guarded by Vacuo's Grimm Watch and Shade Academy Huntsmen, being home to many Grimm. In order to monitor the desert and its hostile inhabitants, the city has installed perimeter detectors in several locations throughout the sand.
The Wastelands are also home to various underground locations, such as abandoned Mistral Trading Company Dust refineries, as well as hideouts for dark groups such as The Crown, who use The Mirage and the Crown Bunker as their bases of operation in the desert. There is at least one CCT relay tower in the desert, near the bunker.
The first time the Wastelands appears in Chapter and is the area for Team ROSC's mission. It is the main location where Coco Adel runs into Carmine Escaldos again and battles her. Carmine attempts to bury Coco under the sand only to be stopped when Coco's teammates arrive to help her out. As Carmine retreats Team ROSC become outnumbered by Grimm and are forced to hold out around the nearby CCT Tower. Fox would turn up with a team of students with Nolan bringing spare ammo for Coco and Scarlet.
The group of students investigated strange caverns within the Wastelands and discovered the main base of The Crown and the primary location for those kidnapped that were being used as Aura Batteries for Gillian to syphon the Aura onto the stronger soldiers. Later on in Before The Dawn, Velvet is tasked with heading to Wastelands alongside Sun Wukong and Octavia Ember to deal with Gill and cut off her Aura supply by freeing the trapped people. On the way through the Wastelands Velvet sees a Grimm caravan of Dromedons, Ziraphs and Jackalopes heading towards Shade Academy.
Through the use of Octavia's Semblance and Gravity Dust loaded into her kris dagger, Octavia is able to create a whirlpool to enter the hidden base by moving the sand. Once inside the trio notice all the bad guys including Gill are gone. Velvet tasks Sun with freeing everyone as the other two search around. Eventually Octavia and Velvet have to engage Carmine and Gill alongside three other Huntsmen catching them by surprise. While fighting Carmine Velvet spots Octavia dealing with the three Huntsmen, Velvet releases that the cave they we're fighting in was being cleared by Carmine by her Semblance but said cave had been sealed off since an avalanche since The Great War and orders Octavia to launch a wave of fire into the cave igniting the Dust vein that was still active.
The ignition causes the cave to explode and the base buried the duo in rubble. Sun and Bertilak remove the rubble and help Velvet and Octavia out. Bertilak leaves intent on hunting Carmine down whilst Velvet, Octavia and Sun head back to Shade Academy to join the battle.
Following the battle of Shade, Ruby Rose's message to all of Remnant is sent in "Amity" thanks to Amity Communications Tower being temporarily operational. During her broadcast, Sun and Neptune Vasilias were shown watching it in an area of the Wastelands as she revealed the existence of Salem and asked for help with the situation in Atlas.
Later when Ruby's Group manage to evacuate the citizens of Atlas and Mantle using a magic portal, they are taken to the area of the Wastelands right outside the city of Vacuo. When they arrive however, they learn they cannot go back through the portal and are attacked by the Grimm in the desert. Once everyone makes it through the portal, Winter Schnee arrives to take out the Grimm herself.